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AEW’s Sting sendoff was perfect in so many ways

Darby Allin crashed some 20 feet through a plate of glass onto the floor, spent a good five to 10 minutes having ringside medical staff picking shards out of his back, leaving Sting to perform his last-ever comeback and win, and it might have only been the third or fourth best match on the card for AEW’s “Revolution” on Sunday night. Such is the way of AEW, which always seems to ace the test of their PPVs even if the week-to-week television can get wonky from time to time.

“Revolution” was an apt title for not only AEW’s show, but where it stands in between what was and what’s coming. While the show was built around Sting’s retirement match, it was also the in-ring debut (at least as full-time on the roster rather than just as a guest) of Will Ospreay as well as a week or two before AEW welcomes Kazuchika Okada and Mercedes Mone (nee Sasha Banks) into the fold. Add to it that Bryan Danielson is winding down the clock on his full-time career, and AEW is definitely shedding one skin for another.

Perhaps Sting’s match was the perfect metaphor for what AEW has been and what it will be — a healthy and passionate reverence for the past (the montage preceding Sting’s entrance was masterfully done) while adapting it to a different sort of wrestling not on TV before the company’s start. Sting’s sons accompanied him to the ring dressed as different eras of their father’s character (Surfer Sting and nWo Wolfpac), and a few minutes later Allin was hurtling through that pain of glass. The Young Bucks paid homage to Ric Flair’s last match by both kicking him in the head (feel free to repeat) and then mocking the “I Love You” from Shawn Michaels in that match before superkicking Sting. Which, of course, cued the ending phase of the match, Sting overcoming all. Here was a legend of the past in a modern match, not only looking right in place but his status only enhancing it.

AEW has played Sting’s last hurrah in wrestling perfectly, ever since he showed up during the pandemic. Only bringing him out just enough to make it feel like a special occasion, using him to make stars out of everyone he came into contact with, and treating him like some demigod bestowed upon them. His goodbye was no less perfect, a salute to nearly 40 years in the ring while thanking him for the way he propelled the newest big company forward. And for being nuts enough to leap off of stuff through other stuff in his 60s. Sting was more Jeff Hardy than Jeff Hardy in AEW.

While Sting’s last match was the culmination, it would be easy to argue it wasn’t the highlight. Danielson and Eddie Kingston walked out and simply had an All Japan Wrestling “King’s Road” match because they felt like it, heavy on strikes and submissions with every move feeling like it was meant to reveal the innards of the opponent. Every facet of the match was built on Danielson finally relenting and showing Kingston the proper respect, and though Danielson will be around some months yet, it was also built on Kingston taking his torch as the Wrestler Of The People after Danielson exits. They’re both guys who grew up watching the grainy tapes and feeds the fans did, and somehow just got let over the barricade and into the locker room.

Not long after that, Ospreay announced his presence and claim to be the best wrestler in the world by having a Wrestle Kingdom main event in North Carolina with Konuske Takeshita. It can feel sometimes that Ospreay is still fighting off the criticism of his match with Ricochet years ago which featured all sorts of flips and leaps, but was derided by some as a gymnastics exhibition. He had the perfect dance partner in Takeshita, as both are Grade A athletes, but have nailed the blend of acrobatics with power and impact moves that pop a crowd and make for a much more layered match. They could do this:

Or this:

Or this:

They hit every gear, mood, and speed, and Takeshita once again looks like the kind of star to backstop the company for a decade or more.

If all that wasn’t our flavor of vodka, Christian Cage and Daniel Garcia opened the show with an old-school, conniving-heel outmaneuvers the more talented, younger face for the TNT title. It may have been Wrestling 101, but it was executed flawlessly, as most of Cage’s run as the biggest dirtbag in wrestling has been.

Oh, and Blackpool Combat Club and FTR balled out in a tag match, and Toni Storm and Deonna Purazzo put on a banger for the women’s championship. These would have been the best matches on a Dynamite in a normal week, and probably by some distance.

AEW is on the precipice of something with the huge names arriving, and isn’t necessarily saying goodbye to what it did before. Sting and Danielson/Kingston were nods to what influenced and built the company. Takeshita-Ospreay was a teaser for what’s to come next. It’s tough to ride both of these at the same time, but that’s kind of AEW’s thing.

Anyway, enjoy Cody and Roman doing one move every five minutes next month. Sure it’ll be great.



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