Cain A. Knight
Many pro wrestling fans are still buzzing about the return of Sting. Sting signed a multi-year contract with AEW and will not be on a part-time schedule. It’s not clear how much Sting will wrestle, but that option does appear to be on the table despite his age and health concerns.
Booker T has the perfect opponent in mind for Sting when he does get back in the ring for an actual match, and it’s Chris Jericho. Here is how Booker explains the logic behind this choice on The Hall of Fame podcast:
“Sting being 61 [years old], he could still go out there and go. He could still go out there and move. He could still go out there and do a little something in the ring. How much? I think it really wouldn’t matter with him and a guy like [Chris] Jericho. I really think they could go out and pretty much smoke and mirrors and tell a story. Even at the age Sting is right now, even still at the age of Chris Jericho right now…I still think those guys got enough knowledge in their head to be able to go out there, literally smoke and mirrors…
I say that because here in Houston, we had Shawn Michaels versus the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Between the two of those guys at that time, it was about 100 years [old], because both of them were about 50 at the time. And they went out and had the best match on the card by far that night. They told the best story by far that night on the card. So my thing is, the perfect person that’s gonna go out there and dance with him properly, make sure he walks out of that ring more importantly than anything…Chris Jericho.”
Booker T specifies that he wants to see Jericho’s Painmaker persona for this hypothetical match due to the similar face paint to Sting. He also makes sure to emphasize that the ultimate goal with Sting should be to pass the torch and get over young talent like Darby Allin.
Sting vs. The Painmaker might sound great in a video game, but there are a few problems with Booker T’s comparison. First, the combined age of Undertaker and Shawn Michaels was around 88 years old when they wrestled in 2009 at WrestleMania 25. The current combined age of Sting and Jericho is 111 years old. It’s not in the same ballpark, primarily because Sting is just so much older than everyone else.
The next problem with Booker T’s idea is that Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels was not a success based on smoke and mirrors. Yes, Undertaker’s streak story is a big part of why that match felt like such a big deal, and it enhanced all the near falls and finisher kick outs. But we’re talking about Shawn Michaels, one of the greatest workers of all-time, still performing at a very high level in 2009. Even that late career version of HBK blows away what Sting and Jericho can do in the ring right now. Sting in his prime was never known for being a top tier worker. It’s a tremendous leap of faith to think that because HBK and Undertaker had one of the greatest WrestleMania matches ever at an older age, that it somehow suggests old man Sting and Jericho can go out there and have a quality match.
Third, there’s another famous wrestling Texan out there named Mark Calaway who specifically resisted doing a match with Sting for years now, despite fan demand, because the match looks better on paper than it would in the actual ring. Ouch. In other words, there’s good reason to doubt Booker T’s belief that all the knowledge in Sting’s head can overcome his age related physical decline. If the brain knows what to do but the body can’t do it anymore, it’s going to be tough to work around that.
Finally, we don’t actually know that Sting can still go in the ring. Sting has not wrestled in five years; we just don’t know what to realistically expect from him in the ring at 61 or 62 years old.
I’m probably focusing too much on Booker T’s comparison to HBK and Undertaker. It’s hard for any match to live up to the standards of HBK vs. Undertaker, and Booker T seems to understand that Sting is too limited to actually pull off anything like that match. He pretty much admits this with his faint praise, where the best compliment he can come up with is that Sting can still “move” and “do a little something.” That’s setting the bar as low as possible for a pro wrestler.
Booker T is right though when he says a Sting match will have to involve a whole lot of smoke and mirrors. If Sting is going to compete in the ring again, which AEW wrestlers do you think make the most sense for potential opponents? Is Chris Jericho near the top of your list?