The first time fans heard from Sting in AEW, he was involved in a talking segment with Cody Rhodes on the December 9, 2020 episode of AEW Dynamite.
Though Sting would return to the ring in 2021, first in cinematic fashion and then in a more official capacity, Rhodes and Sting never squared off.
According to Cody Rhodes, the plan was for him to eventually face Sting as part of his "heel" run during his final months with the company.
"I was going to wrestle Sting," Rhodes told ComicBook.com. "I don't think I've ever shared that with anybody and nothing was on paper or anything like that. But I can say I got a tremendous offer from AEW creatively, financially, the full package. You won't hear me say anything bad about AEW or Tony (Khan) or my time there. It was a tremendous offer, but the offer wasn't right for me. What I wanted to get back to was the first goal that I ever had (winning the WWE Championship). But yeah, that probably would've been the endgame. That's what had been discussed, was to get one (match) with one of my heroes, Sting.
"And it's one of those things, you can wrestle one of your heroes or you can work with one of your heroes and he can be the head of creative (Paul Levesque), you can't have it all. And I think one thing I do pride myself on as a wrestler is I will make a decision. It might be a left turn, it might be exactly where you think I'm going, but I will make a decision. I will not get stuck because I felt like I'd been stuck early in my career and never want to be that way again."
Rhodes previously said that his final months in AEW were a little too meta as the fans wanted him to be a heel, and while he had some heel tendencies, he never made an official heel turn, thus he was a heel.
Rhodes left AEW in February 2022 to return to WWE, making his official return at WrestleMania 38.
If you use any of the quotes above, please credit the original source with a h/t and link back to Fightful for the transcription.