The year is 1991.

I was nine years old. I had just started getting into wrestling for the first time in my life, thanks to my Dad borrowing a copy of WWF WrestleMania 7. It was the first wrestling event I remember watching (although I’ve been told I watched events before it). I was mesmerized by the action, the characters, and the energy of the crowd. Nine-year-old me was hooked instantly! I didn’t need superheroes (although Batman was cool)—I had pro wrestlers!

Midway through 1991, my Uncle made me aware of another wrestling company that wasn’t WWF. You know it as World Championship Wrestling (WCW), I only knew it as “more wrestling.” It wasn’t until I was older that I realized it had a name, and the biggest name I cared about, perhaps at times the only name I cared about was Sting.

He had the charisma, the look, he was a good guy who stood for good things. He was everything I looked for in my heroes! Nothing complex, nothing deep or paradoxical. He was just a good guy going up against the evils in the “more wrestling” company. Evil, such as Cactus Jack, The Dangerous Alliance, and so on. I wasn’t a WCW fan; I was a Sting fan. I cheered when he won, I cried when he was defeated, and through it all I was hooked. It was a great time to be a wrestling fan, to be a kid who was into pro wrestling.

This isn’t about my childhood, though. This was just the prologue. This is about March 3, 2024, one of the most magical moments in pro wrestling I ever witnessed live. This is about a legend, a bonafide icon in pro wrestling, getting the curtain call, the swan song, the send-off he always deserved but many of us thought he would never get. This is about Sting.

When Sting called his shot and told us when his retirement would be, I knew instantly, “I need to be there.” There was no debate, there was no hesitation, no question. I was going to go there. Then, it was revealed it would be at the historic Greensboro Coliseum. Damn right, I was going now. There would be no stopping me (or my best friend who was going with me). We did not leave anything to chance, the moment tickets went on sell we nabbed us some and that was that. March 3, 2024, we would see our childhood hero retire after 40-plus years in the business.

My anticipation built as days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. I hoped this send-off would exceed all expectations. Over the years, the sour taste of his WWE run and ending had grown more distasteful. The putrid stench of how WWE treated him in his short stint there has been a disgusting and off-putting smell for years, and it had just grown stronger. I hoped this farewell would properly purify the air that WWE had polluted. When the Young Bucks (who Sting chose himself) ended up being the final opponents, I smiled. This was perfect. Two brash, unspoken pricks (when they want to be) heeling it up against one of the most beloved men in pro wrestling? That’s formula for magic my friends. That’s a formula for success. That’s pro wrestling 101. That is the essence of fantastic booking.

The night arrived, and as we headed down to Greensboro from Virginia I can’t pretend there weren’t nerves going through me. He was in his sixties and limited, after all. What if his final match sucked? What if he got injured? What if AEW pulled a WCW at Starrcade 1997 and bumbled a sure thing? The closer we got to the coliseum, the more those nerves evaporated. Instead, they were replaced with excitement, thrilling, heart-pounding excitement. And I said something to myself. I said it to myself because I knew it was true in my heart.

“My hero is going to knock it out of the fucking park.”

This wasn’t a 41-year-old semi-jaded wrestling fan anymore. This was nine-year-old Jeri coming out of hibernation, ready and willing to watch her hero go against the odds one final time. This was nine-year-old Jeri who had watched her hero through adversity, bad booking, disrespect, and revisionist history, getting a chance to watch him get the sweet, sweet ending he deserved. Happy endings in wrestling are rarely deserved and rarely achieved.

The night started, and it was amazing. Even removing Sting’s retirement was perhaps the best night of wrestling I’ve ever attended live. Bryan Danielson and Eddie Kingston went to war, FTR and the Blackpool Combat Club started slow but were able to cook up a hell of a tag team match, Will Ospreay and Konosuke Takeshita absolutely killed it in a high energy match that left us all speechless.

But I’m not here to talk about the rest of the card. If you haven’t watched it though, do so, it is pro wrestling done at its high octane best. I try not to gatekeep, but if you hated AEW Revolution, maybe just stop watching AEW; it’s not for you.

But no, after the very good three-way was finished, it was time. The anticipation began to build, and you could feel the excited tension inside the arena. The Young Bucks came out to thunderous boos and disdain. Fuck these punks. How dare they show nothing but disrespect and disdain to our hero. They were WWE in tag team form, looking to embarrass and ridicule the legend just like the actual company had. Darby Allin came out, and we gave him his flowers. He had been an excellent tag team partner to Sting and deserved praise for his role.

Then the moment came, Sting’s video package began to play. “Thank you Sting” echoed throughout the arena. I had tears in my eyes. I can get very emotional over wrestling; this was a perfect moment to let the tears come out. Then the music played, and his sons came out as past iterations of Sting. Beautiful. Then the man himself came out and we all applauded, we all cheered, we all called out to our hero one last time.

I won’t play by play the match; I will say it was as perfect as I could’ve asked for. The stain of WWE’s treatment was washed away by the magic of pro wrestling, by the magic of Sting. In his sixties, Sting took bumps he had no need to take, but he did it for the love of it all. Darby Allin took an absolutely insane swanton through glass putting him out of commision and leaving our hero to fend for much of the rest of the match. I clutched my heart, because it was in that moment nine year old me realized…she needed Sting to over come and win. “Going out on your back,” be damned. I wanted Sting to win. We ALL wanted Sting to win. And it was unlikely. At every pin attempt, we felt it would be the end, that his career would come down in defeat… THEN IT WOULDN’T BE THE END. Sting kept defying, kicking out, and hyping up, surviving and being the never-dying legend we always knew he was.

Then Sting won with his Scorpion Deathlock, and we all exploded. SWEET RELIEF! SWEET REJOICING! PRO WRESTLING AT IT’S ABSOLUTE BEST. A beautiful five star spectacle. Yes there was smoke, yes there was mirrors, and yes in any other situation this probably wouldn’t of hit five stars, but it all clicked, it all mattered, it was all special, and it was all special. I started to cry as Sting gave his post-match goodbyes.

Not a person was leaving, not a person was exiting. We hung on every word, taking it in, soaking it in, showing our hero nothing but respect and appreciation. Then the entire AEW locker room came out to show respect and Sting exit the ring for the last time. Nine-year-old me and 41-year-old me embraced in that moment. Child and adult joined together, in that moment, tears coming from our eyes as we watched the most magical ending to a pro wrestling career ever. Chills. I hope every wrestling fan can feel how I felt on this night at some point in their fandom.

I will never forget March 3, 2024. A night of appreciation and admiration to a legend that truly deserved it. A legend that got the send off we never thought he get. Wrongs, righted. Injustices corrected, and I will always be thankful to AEW for the magical few years we got of Sting. It was handled masterfully and with class, and I will always treasure it. Pro wrestling is an ugly business, but this, all of this, was beautiful.

Thank you Sting.