Sting can change professional wrestling once more with final match at AEW Revolution

The Post’s Joseph Staszewski brings you around the world of professional wrestling every Tuesday in his weekly column, the Post Match Angle.

Sting has been a game-changer throughout some of the biggest moments in professional wrestling, and he can be so again as he leaves the business.

The 64-year-old icon, whose real name is Steve Borden, is set for his final match after 39 years in the wrestling business as he and Darby Allin put their AEW world tag team championships on the line against The Young Bucks at Revolution on Sunday from the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina, the site of arguably the most important match of his career.

It was there in 1988 that “Surfer Sting,” the NWA’s first modern colorful superhero, proved himself in the main event of the inaugural Clash of Champions on free TV up against WrestleMania IV in a 45-minute draw against world champion Ric Flair.

The nWo storyline in WCW was taken to the next level thanks to the creation of “Crow Sting” — a new twist on the babyface in the late ’90s. He finally gave the nWo a credible foil at the highest level. Sting showed you can build a compelling storyline — despite the lackluster Starrcade ’97 ending in the most-bought PPV in company history — for more than a year without uttering a word.   

It was Sting who has proven time and time again to be a stamp of approval on a new brand trying to provide an alternative to WWE for talent and fans. He joined TNA less than a year into its launch and AEW two years after it began. Outside of his injury-shortened WWE run, Sting has been the champion for the opposition at the main event level and it may be something that is never replicated with the way wrestling is today.

Sting will have his final match at AEW Revolution. Lee South/AEW

Sting could do one more favor for the wrestling business and its legends on Sunday.

For years, the practice has been for wrestlers to “do business” and lose on their way out of a company or in retirement — when a performer doesn’t return for an extended run. And when done well, like Ric Flair’s WWE retirement, or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin losing to The Rock at WrestleMania, or the Undertaker sending Shawn Michaels home, that way can be magic.

But why can’t our heroes just go out on top, and vanquish the villain one more time in the center of the ring with their hand raised or with gold around their waist when the situation calls for it? 

(Yes, the Undertaker did just that at WrestleMania 36, but it was a cinematic match that wasn’t originally planned to be his last and Flair got to book himself to victory in his third retirement go-around.)

That’s what Sting has the chance to do, and likely will do, at Revolution. To reset the thinking about how we can say goodbye to our legends. Sting and Allin are unbeaten (25-0) during their time together in AEW and are the reigning champions. Sting will be in the ring with three of AEW’s top workers and not another aging veteran in an attempt at nostalgia.

The Young Bucks, even as newly turned obnoxious heels, don’t need the rub or the heat that would come from beating Sting in his final match. They can simply issue a $1,000 fine to the ref who counts the fall or claim they were doing something else other than tapping out.

The story itself with the Young Bucks attacking Sting’s sons, bloodying Allin and Sting’s real-life father passing away last week, screams for the need for a triumphant ending. Sting took it to another level on Wednesday with a chilling and intense promo that might be the best of his AEW run.

The Young Bucks will be Sting’s final opponents. Lee South/AEW

Sting and Darby Allin enter Revolution as AEW tag team champions. Lee South/AEW

Flair complaining about not being around Sting enough and exploring his options by taking a meeting with the Young Bucks could certainly throw a monkey wrench into that. But Sting getting screwed over by Flair feels like a terribly flat and overplayed angle. The “Dirtiest Player in the Game” double-crossing the Bucks after some suspense and everyone getting their hand raised in celebration of a Sting victory feels like the way to go.

Then it would be on Sting to make that moment last by — unlike so many others — actually having this be his last match and the last image we see of him as an in-ring competitor.

It could be a game-changing moment for wrestling legends and proof that the old way isn’t the best all the time.

This Means War

It’s the babyface promo we’ve been waiting for from Wardlow during his AEW run. He spoke with fire, conviction and natural disgust at the truth that his initial big push was short-circuited and despite his dominance, he never got a world title shot. He spoke of CM Punk barely beating him, squashing MJF before he became champion and choking out current champ Samoa Joe.

He called himself the “uncrowned king” and declared “war” before a “Meat Madness” match at Revolution against Lance Archer and Powerhouse Hobbs. Wardlow’s promo made him sound more like someone who will need an uneasy alliance with a returning MJF down the road than someone ready to turn a world championship over to Undisputed Kingdom leader Adam Cole. After a lot of toiling and false starts, Wardlow feels back. 

Coming up Gold

It was a great week to be an ex-WWE star in a new company as New Japan Pro-Wrestling booked Matt Riddle to beat real-life president Hiroshi Tanahashi to become NJPW World TV champ and Nic Nemeth to defeat David Finlay for the IWGP Global championship in the same night so quickly into their tenures. It felt like an attempt by NJPW to grab some headlines and get more attention on their brand in the U.S.

Then over in TNA, Mustafa Ali defeated Chris Sabin for the X-Division championship in the main event of No Surrender in his first match there. The first major championship for Ali in 20 years will be the first test of his rising star and further proof of how fruitful life outside WWE can be for talents in the current wrestling climate.

The 10 Count

Loved Cody Rhodes’ fire and determination to go on the offensive and “hunt” The Bloodline this time around to end Raw, but not sure having him beat Paul Heyman’s protection, which he claimed were suspended NYPD officers, was the best thing in that segment.

AEW’s signing of former WWE writer and Emmy-winning daytime soups producer Jennifer Pepperman as vice president of live programing, to work alongside Tony Khan, is significant. It should mean a great commitment from AEW to telling more layered stories, and she is a needed high-ranking female voice in creative just as it appears the women’s division is set to take off with Mercedes Mone’ — with whom Pepperman not so coincidently has a close relationship with — set to come in.

The Good Brothers showing up in NXT really does make it feel like the place talent goes when the main roster has nothing for them. Hopefully it’s the start of a bigger angle across brands then WWE just finding something do with them.

Bayley better not be falling for any of Dakota Kai’s potential tricks after being one step ahead of Damage CTRL this whole way. 

I get Lexis King has a storyline brewing with Mr. Stone and he cost him the match, but I’m still not sure seeing King end up getting squashed by North American champion Oba Femi was the best optics for this character. I would have preferred him losing a match he was supposed to win.

Mark Briscoe’s feud versus House of Black could be the best use of him yet. He feels less like a punch line and more like the true sympathetic babyface he is.

Mark Briscoe AEW

Found Dominik Mysterio and The Judgment Day going after Gunther’s Intercontinental championship and Imperium rather odd as WWE is already floating a WrestleMania match with Sami Zayn and Chad Gable. Could this be the beginning of the Judgment Day failing miserably in the coming months and finally unraveling?

I find it pretty coincidental that with the full list of DLC wrestlers for WWE 2K24 set to be announced that CM Punk was somehow left out of the base game, and it took a viral movement led by the Voice of the Voiceless to get him put in the season pass hours later.

Count me in for Jake Hager’s hat unlocking his wrestling superpowers.

Seth Rollins placing the idea of the Bloodline taking over WWE even more so right at Drew McIntyre’s feet after the Scottish Warrior has gotten plenty of help from the group he once hated creates the perfect WrestleMania dilemma for their match and Cody vs. Roman.

Social Media Post of the Week

Wrestler of Week

Rhea Ripley, WWE

Ripley’s rise in WWE earned her as special an opportunity as there is — to wrestle in your home country (Australia) for the first time in seven years with your family in the front row in the main event in front of 50,000-plus people. It’s another thing to also nail it with one of the best matches of your championship run — a victory over Nia Jax in the main event of Elimination Chamber — and be celebrated as a conquering hero and show your heel character may be over enough for a babyface run without changing a thing.

Match to Watch

Samoa Joe (c.) vs. Swerve Strickland vs. “Hangman” Adam Page for the AEW World championship at AEW Revolution. (Sunday, 8 p.m., Bleacher Report)

The AEW world championship scene is filled with possibilities. Strickland seems destined to become the promotion’s first black world champion, but Page continues to be a roadblock and Joe’s reign is only a few months old. Oh, and an angry Wardlow is waiting in the wings. AEW has a ton of options with how to place this that will have ripple effects for months to come.  

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