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For the first time since 2001, Sting is back on TNT.
The legend made a surprise appearance on Wednesday night’s AEW Dynamite, coming to the aid of Cody Rhodes, Darby Allin and Arn Anderson during an attack from Team Taz.
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AEW subsequently announced on the broadcast that Sting signed a multiyear contract with the promotion.
It’s unclear if the 61-year-old will compete in an in-ring capacity. Sting has not competed in the ring since a match against Seth Rollins in 2015, when he suffered a serious neck injury as a result of a buckle bomb. He subsequently announced his retirement at his 2016 WWE Hall of Fame induction.
The Icon was the lasting face of World Championship Wrestling from 1987 to its disillusion in 2001. WCW had a longstanding relationship with Turner broadcasting, including broadcasting Nitro from 1995 to 2001. During that time, it’s arguable that Sting was the face of TNT.
While Sting spent more than a decade in Impact after WCW went out of business and had a brief WWE run, he’s forever linked to wrestling on TNT—making his relationship with AEW an obvious fit after his legends contract with WWE ended earlier this year.
When WWE pulled Sting’s merchandise from its website, it led to natural speculation that he might join AEW. Sting’s one of the most valuable commodities from the WCW era. He had obvious value to WWE for Network specials and the occasional television appearance in perpetuity, so it’s likely Sting left because he felt he had unfinished business in wrestling.
AEW has made excellent use of legends like Anderson and Jake Roberts in managerial roles. Diamond Dallas Page, who is 64, has also made a couple of one-off in-ring appearances with the company, including his first match since 2011 at January’s Bash at the Beach.
It seems likely Sting will compete in at least one AEW match, likely in a tag team format similar to how the company used Page. His most natural partner would be Allin, the new “face of TNT” who also has an affinity for hanging out in the rafters and wearing black and white face paint.