McGuire’s Mondays: After Sting says goodbye, what happens to Darby Allin?


By Colin McGuire, Staffer

Everybody’s definition of a star differs. There are levels – a star, a superstar, an icon … the list goes on. In my mind, some people rush to anoint wrestlers with any of those titles. No, despite what WWE tells you, not everybody you see on their television programming is a “superstar.” If anything, they’re (cue Matt Menard’s voice) a sports entertainer and little else. Roman Reigns? A definite superstar. Cody Rhodes? It sure feels like he is these days. Ivar? Sorry, man.

AEW, while I know everyone debates this until they’re blue in the face because conversations about AEW are usually anything but reasonable conversations, has very few stars. Chris Jericho felt like a star when he came on board at the beginning. These days, that’s probably changed. Jon Moxley benefited from the same aura when he arrived, but he’s morphed into some weird undefinable space that isn’t necessarily a star, but isn’t not a star. Bryan Danielson was one of WWE’s biggest acts, but these days, he’s just a guy who wants to wrestle for 30 minutes a night all while annoying Eddie Kingston.

It’s all to say that in my mind, there is only one true bonafide superstar in The Land of All Elite. That guy?


If AEW has done nothing right in its short existence, it has used Sting perfectly. Ten out of ten, no notes. If the book was in my hands, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. He’s been used sparingly. He felt important. He’s pulled off some wild in-ring spots for a 60-something-year-old. He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been perfectly utilized, which means AEW deserves all of the awards (if there are awards for these types of things) for the way they have handled the guy. It’s been beyond impressive.

As a result of that, his running partner in AEW, Darby Allin, has enjoyed the fruits of the operation’s perfection. And yet, after Sunday night at Revolution, those fruits are fixin’ to run dry as Sting will say goodbye for the last time (or at least so he says). It will be sad to see him go, and yet at the same time, there’s a feeling of happiness that the man named Steve Borden was able to finish his career in such a memorable way.

As I wrote here a handful of weeks ago, I think Sting should be on the winning side of things against The Young Bucks, but perhaps AEW tipped its hand when it advertised this week’s Dynamite as Sting’s final Dynamite appearance (i.e. he ain’t showing up at next week’s TV if he doesn’t have a belt to relinquish). Whatever the plan is, Sting is set to ride the bungee cord up to the rafters one last time and that last time is in six days. And so, then, it seems like a good time to ask this question:

… Um, what happens to Darby Allin now?

In no way am I knocking Allin’s ability to be an entertaining pro wrestler on his own. Because of Sting’s sporadic appearances, Allin has been left to sink or swim in the interim and he’s mostly kept his head above water. But as the years added up and the pairing of he and Sting became cemented as the only thing AEW refused to eff with, Allin benefited greatly being aligned with the Stinger. Each time we saw the two together on television, Allin’s profile rose – and it stayed risen. Sting’s star was so bright, Allin perfectly positioned himself as a cut above a lot of his peers, especially as the Four Pillars story played out last year. The duo provided Allin a road to never-ending relevancy – as long as the two remained buddies.

And while they might just remain buddies beyond Sunday, they won’t remain buddies on our television sets (or at least not nearly as often), and what happens on our television sets is the only real currency the wrestling community has (well, that and dumbass star ratings, but let’s not even dip our toes into that). So, without Sting by his side, how is Darby positioned in AEW moving forward? He’s a human wrecking ball who clearly has no regard for his own well-being (I say admiringly), but we’ve already seen him do everything from Coffin Drop into a coffin to fall down a large set of stairs to whatever it was that happened between him and Jericho in the company’s early days.

There’s something charming and intriguing about that, of course – a sort of “can’t turn away from a car crash” type quality that appeals to the twisted side of us human beings. But does that mean we just tune into whatever he’s doing each week to see how far we can take it until he perhaps takes it too far and then that’s the end of Darby Allin in a pro wrestling ring? That seems a bit morbid. So, then what? Do we expect a 20-minute grappling classic between him and Kazuchika Okada on some random Collision? That’s doubtful. Maybe another run with the TNT Championship is in store? Well … OK.

My point is that the marriage between Darby Allin and Sting turned out to be one of the most unexpected success stories in the last few years of pro wrestling. We all knew it was going to come to an end – Sting wasn’t signing up to wrestle for another decade when he signed his AEW contract – but I’m not so sure a lot of thought has been given to the notion of what happens next for Darby once Sting levitates his way into the sunset. Even now, as Sting’s final match approaches, the attention is (rightfully) on him and his farewell. But beyond climbing Mount Everest, Darby Allin’s professional future feels flimsy if not almost entirely ignored.

It’s a testament to the value of true superstars in the pro wrestling sphere. It’s hit or miss – who knows what the hell WWE was thinking when they had Solo Sikoa dominate John Cena on WWE Crown Jewel only to have Sikoa lose the next one hundred thousand matches – but when the stars align and the marriage of weathered superstar and upstart go-getter turns out to be one made in heaven, there is very little that’s more affecting in the genre. Sting came to AEW and played his part perfectly. Darby, to his credit, did the same. Sting now gets to say goodbye and go out on his own terms while Darby …

… Well, while Darby writes a new chapter. We think. We hope. It’s not impossible, and Allin seems to have a strong share of charisma to help push him forward towards whatever is next. But the void that Sting will leave after Sunday won’t just effect AEW’s questionable star power (and don’t talk to me about Will Osprey or Okada just yet; the last thing I ever thought I’d see one year after Jay White signs with a company is White being one-third of a trios championship team on the secondary brand). It’l also affect the trajectory of Darby Allin’s life in pro wrestling.

That, of course, begs this question: Does Darby Allin want to have a long life in pro wrestling? Only he knows that. Even so, and whatever his answer might be, I have to think that he at least wants a life in pro wrestling, even if the plan is for that life to expire after five or so years. And so, how does he spend it, even if it’s just in the short term? It’s hard to reinvent a character like Allin’s (no, I don’t think he should turn on Sting this Sunday, but I’m not closed to the idea that his heel run could work), so does he just fade into the obscurity that so many very good AEW wrestlers find themselves in after so long? Does he find a new running mate? Does he take a long time off, climb Everest and reassess everything?

There are a million scenarios in play. No matter what shakes out, we know this: Darby Allin won’t be the same without Sting by his side. Whether that turns out to be for better or for worse should be one of the more low-key compelling things that AEW has to explore in its immediate future. In the meantime, cheers to one final ride for Sting – and cheers to The Icon for elevating his face-painted brethren in ways no one saw coming.


Readers Comments (4)

  1. >>…because conversations about AEW are usually anything but reasonable conversations<<
    Because you, and everyone else of your view regarding AEW, think your negative opinions about AEW are facts, not opinions, so anyone that disagrees is being "unreasonable".
    Also, Darby was a big deal before Sting and he became a storyline, so he'll just feed off the additional push he got while being Sting's partner and continue to grow.
    You wasted a whole column when its that simple.

  2. Just turn him heel!

  3. “Because you, and everyone else of your view regarding AEW, think your negative opinions about AEW are facts, not opinions”

    While you, OTOH, think anyone who’s not fellating AEW balls deep is being excessively critical and unreasonable. YOU cannot accept that YOUR opinion of AEW’s greatness and perfection is ALSO not a fact and that the idea of someone having an opinion of AEW that doesn’t kiss it’s ass as hard as you do just sets you off, EVERY SINGLE TIME.

  4. I think it’s obvious. He just hangs with other middle-school sized kids and stays a “big deal” to the little group of fans that knows who he is.
    I only know because I check in on Sting via .net and YouTube.

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