Sting surprised the wrestling world when he joined AEW in December 2020.
Sting had been signed to WWE since 2014, but had only made sporadic appearances since his final match with the company in 2015. Sting's AEW appearance was kept a surprise to many, but Cody Rhodes was one of the few who was in on it.
"Sting is entirely Tony’s. He let me in on the process of it and I got to be there to help facilitate it to a small degree but, more than anything, I think he did that out of respect for my fandom. Sting was my favourite wrestler growing up and he’s a big part of my childhood. I’ve modelled a lot of the babyface I’d like to be after the babyface that Sting was. So for him to be involved in what we do is massive," Cody told Kenny McIntosh in issue 11 of Inside The Ropes Magazine.
Many were uncertain Sting would be able to wrestle again after suffering a neck injury in 2015 and retiring in 2016. But Sting was cleared for competition upon joining AEW.
“The process of getting him cleared really comes down to having a great medical team. I can’t say enough about Doc Sampson and what he’s set up for AEW. I came back through the curtain after Double Or Nothing and someone handed me a bottle of electrolytes, one of the Young Lion type medical trainees that he has because he always has a group of interns and students. I mean, really, I don’t believe in so much of that stuff. I’m a dumb old school wrestler. At least I try to pretend to be. But that’s how you prolong your career. It’s the ice baths, it’s the kinesiology, it’s the actual attention to detail on nutrition," said Cody. “Sting joined the healthiest company he could possibly join. And it wasn’t a matter of ever getting him cleared, he’s got to do that through his doctors and our doctors, but more than anything, I don’t know if we thought Sting was going to have a “match” match. Until I saw the level of intensity that the cinematic was—probably more intense than an actual live 12-15 minute match—that’s when I knew, personally, he can have a match. You’re only as good as your dancing partner and when people talk about somebody who might be medically—they might have a handicap, they might have an issue—what we do, we protect that. That’s our job is to protect that.”
Sting returned for a cinematic match at AEW Revolution, teaming with Darby Allin to defeat Ricky Starks & Brian Cage. He would wrestle his first live match at AEW Double or Nothing when he and Allin defeated Ethan Page & Scorpio Sky.
For Cody, he's hoping to get in the ring with Sting at some point.
“I absolutely was adamant about wanting to do a match with him and it’s not something that’s been discussed or contracted or anything like that but, while he’s here, I still would hope that it happens. He’s such a huge part of who I am and he was such a d*ck to me on the second week when he showed up, and I love that. And I love his love for my dad as well. Sting is a big part of what we do. What a different company when you can have Sting there and Jack Evans in the same company. That’s what AEW does better than any. It’s such a diverse roster," said Cody.
Right now, Cody has his hands full with Malakai Black.
The two men are set to square off on the August 4 episode of AEW Dynamite.