Darby Allin took a merciless beating from Brian Cage but still managed to leave AEW's New Year's Smash Event as the reigning AEW TNT Champion. Cage, having more than 100 pounds on the champion, tossed Allin around like a ragdoll before tossing him out of the ring and through a table at ringside. He eventually got the busted-open champ back in the ring and hit consecutive powerbombs, but couldn't keep Allin down for more than a one-count.
Things eventually took a turn when Allin stopped Cage from using the steel ring steps, then nailed a coffin drop after Cage fell on them.
The final sequence saw Allin back on the top rope for another Coffin Drop attempt, but Hook and Ricky Starks quickly interfered. The lights then went out, allowing Sting to make the save by nailing Starks with his baseball bat twice. Allin rolled up Cage via a Crucifix Bomb from the top rope to retain.
"The Icon" has been apart of AEW since the "Winter Is Coming" special last month, and has repeatedly foiled Team Taz's attempts at attacking Allin. The two have yet to make any sort of comment about working together.
Meanwhile, the WWE Hall of Famer has also teased competing against Cody Rhodes at some point. The AEW EVP addressed that speculation in an interview with Daniel Trainor earlier this week.
"It's no secret that Sting was my favorite wrestler. I had Sting in WCW and Shawn [Michaels] in WWF. But really I wasn't supposed to watch WWF. So, Sting was everything," Rhodes said. "I got to see him live so often and I got to see the connection he had. I honestly am scared to answer that. Obviously, as a wrestler, to stand across the ring from your hero is everyone's dream, to share that field. So, yes, I would love and envision that. However, when you put yourself in that position, you're no longer a fan. You're now out to outperform them, out to beat them, however you look at wrestling. You are opposite of them. You are their dance partner, their competition. You're all these things. That is a big responsibility and that is also just scary, especially if you're somebody like me who loves the memory and the legacy of wrestlers.
"I never want them to feel like they have to carry on," he added. "Their memories carry on enough as they get older. However, just to put a bow on this, he doesn't seem to be moving around slowly. He doesn't seem to be moving around slowly. So, I have my eyes on him hopefully as much as he has his eyes on me. I'm curious to see where things with Darby [Allin] and him go and how that unfolds. It's such a terrifying question to answer."