Home AEW ‘Revolution’ review: Khan finally gets something right with Sting finale

AEW ‘Revolution’ review: Khan finally gets something right with Sting finale

Chris Graham
sting aew retirement
Photo: AEW

Pro wrestling as an art form is best when the fans, the vast majority of whom know the outcomes are predetermined, don’t know how a particular big match is going to go.

In retrospect, it was probably obvious that AEW was going to send Sting out a winner in his retirement match at Sunday’s “Revolution” pay-per-view.

But Sting, Tony Khan and EVPs Matt and Nick Jackson did enough to make us wonder.

I went into the show at the Greensboro Coliseum, where Sting entered the main-event realm with his 1988 45-minute time-limit draw with Ric Flair at Clash of the Champions I, convinced that The Young Bucks were going to be booked to win.


For starters, it’s tradition: the retiring superstar is supposed to lose, the time-honored practice put in place to have the star use his last big match to put over someone younger, who can take the win over the great and use it to build on their career.

The Young Bucks don’t need a win over Sting in a tag match to put them over, but then, did Brock Lesnar need to be the one to end The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania winning streak? Did Shawn Michaels need to beat Flair in The Nature Boy’s WWE retirement match?

Khan put the tag belts on Sting and Darby Allin: This was chef’s kiss good booking. The conventional wisdom at the time that it was announced that Sting would wrestle his retirement match at “Revolution” in Greensboro was that he would wrestle his protégé, Darby Allin, put Allin over, and ride off into the sunset.

When Sting and Allin were announced in a tag match with the Bucks, that was … interesting.

Then when Sting and Allin won the tag belts, you had to wonder: there’s no way Sting can walk out of the Coliseum with the belts, right?

There’s the fact that Tony Khan loves him some tournaments, but even so.

Are the Bucks really dicks behind the scenes in any way resembling how they come across on TV? This is a fair question, because, man, the Jacksons come across as major-league dicks on TV, and I’m saying that based on how they’ve presented themselves dating back to when they were trying to get over as babyfaces in AEW.

Their new turn as heels, in which they’re embracing the image of them that they can’t like is out there, in which they’re embracing the inner dick-ness at the core of their Rancho Cucamonga beings, has almost been too good, as in, are they just that good at acting like colossal dicks, because it sure seems natural.

If it’s life imitating art, might they, then, exert whatever clause you assume they demanded in their contracts for creative control to say, you know, Stinger, baby, we’re going over in the main event, and putting you out to pasture.

The way the match was laid out wasn’t classic Sting, in the sense of harkening back to Sting-Flair at the Clash in 1988; it was more late-1990s ECW, with tables, ladders, chairs, glass, fighting all over the building.

Credit to Khan, his booking team and his backstage producers for how they laid out the show leading up to the main event: the tables, ladders, chairs, etc., that we saw in the main event were the first instances of any furniture being used all night.

AEW, in the past, has, rightfully so, gotten criticism for overdoing it with the furniture, the gimmicks, the blood – the only other blood that we saw, until the blood that flowed through the aisles in the main event, was on the forehead of Dax Harwood in the FTR-Blackpool Combat Club match.

Aside from the gimmick eight-man match to determine a #1 contender for the world title, we got ourselves a night of actual wrestling – Bryan Danielson working the arm of Eddie Kingston, Roddy Strong working the back of Orange Cassidy, FTR making Jon Moxley, for the most part, work within the confines of the ring and ringside area.

There was mat wrestling, working body parts, a match between Will Ospreay and Konsuke Takeashita that felt like an homage to Randy Savage-Ricky Steamboat from Wrestlemania 3.

And then, mayhem.

I’ve read the hot taek criticisms of the Darby Allin ladder-to-glass spot, which, fine – because, yeah, that Allin kid is going to have a hard time living past 35 the way he works.

To trash the match because of one dramatically overdone high spot is, well, it’s what people don’t deserve good things do these days for fun.

Sting got the win, appropriately enough, with a Scorpion Deathlock, then serenaded the fans in attendance and the AEW locker room in an emotional in-ring farewell.

In the process, he breathed back some much-needed life into a company in AEW that desperately needed something positive, after a run of several months of bad news, injuries and booking missteps.

How long Tony Khan, who hasn’t seemed to find a surge of positive momentum that he can’t reverse in an instant – see: 70,000 fans in Wembley one day, firing CM Punk for WWE to snatch up almost literally the next – can take advantage is anybody’s guess.

Khan can put on good one-off shows – again, see: Wembley.

Success in pro wrestling isn’t hotshotting a show.

Sting didn’t pass the torch, as has been the tradition in the business.

Even so, he gave the business something to build from.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].