Sting Opens Up About How His Return To Wrestling In AEW Came About

Sting's return to in-ring wrestling with AEW and how it's taken shape over the last two years is at the heart of a new feature by The Ringer. After believing his wrestling career had seen its end — the result of injury suffered during a WWE match with Seth Rollins at 2015's Night of Champions — it was a 2017 text message that got the ball rolling on his eventual comeback.


"(I) got a text message out of the blue from some guy named Tony asking me if I'd sign a baseball bat and give it to his team, the Jaguars," Sting explained. Learning who this particular Tony was – chief football strategy officer for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL — he'd receive another text from the same number two years later. "He said something along the lines of 'Steve, hey, I hear that your deal with WWE might be over with,' or 'you might be leaving' or whatever, and just want to know if you might be interested in coming back to play over here for a little while." Sting's response: "Great to hear from you, and I hope to see you down the road." 

After being recommended surgery by doctors stemming from a buckle bomb in the Rollins bout, Sting consulted both "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Edge, who'd had their own neck injury history. They had elected to have surgery for their ailments but advised Sting not to, telling him to wait it out and see if he could heal on his own. After some time, Sting saw his pain reduced, and he was able to get back to exercise and training. Then, in early 2020, Sting decided to pick up the phone and engage Khan on his initial inquiry.


Sting explains how he was originally only going to do cinematic matches in AEW

"'I got your text a year ago ... what were you thinking?'" Sting sent to Tony Khan. "And he just said, 'Man, I just want to know if you're willing to come back and play a little while.' And I said, 'Well, Tony, I'm not going to be able to wrestle these young guys. I'm not going to be able to do half the stuff that I used to do. I'm not sure what I have to offer at this point.' And he asked me if I would do or if I was interested in cinematic matches," he continued. "I knew that WWE had done some of those. And I said, 'well, if it's filmed ... like a Hollywood movie, basically. OK, let's light the scene and set it all up.'"


During the filming of that cinematic match — with Darby Allin vs. Ricky Starks and Brian Cage at Revolution 2021 — both Cody Rhodes and Tony Khan really liked what they were seeing and verbalized as such to the Stinger in basically the equivalent of fans' "You still got it." 

"And then the guys I was in [the] ring with were saying the same thing, and I thought maybe I could try a couple," Sting added. "So we renegotiated." Including the Revolution bout, Sting has had 13 AEW matches to date; the most recent was at Full Gear where, again teaming with Allin, he defeated Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal in a No Disqualification match.