Claudio Castagnoli's AEW Debut Was PERFECT - Monster Push Imminent?

The former Cesaro's grand AEW X NJPW Forbidden Door arrival couldn't have gone any better.

Claudio Castagnoli

Claudio Castagnoli was unveiled as Zack Sabre Jr.'s mystery opponent at AEW X NJPW Forbidden Door last night, defeating the cocky English technician, joining the Blackpool Combat Club, becoming #AllElite, and emerging as the show's centrepiece in a busy evening.

The former Cesaro drew a monster pop on arrival. Then, having shockingly left WWE in February, the 41-year-old defeated Sabre Jr. in his first match in over four months, continually leaning on his superior strength and power even when his opponent's surgical technical onslaught effectively took one of his arms away from him.

Later, Castagnoli became Forbidden Door's standout star. A pre-Blood and Guts brawl between the Blackpool Combat Club (and affiliates Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz) and the Jericho Appreciation Society broke out following Jon Moxley's Interim AEW World Championship triumph over Hiroshi Tanahashi. Claudio arrived last, cleaning house with an uppercut flurry before spinning Angelo Parker dozens of times, sending the JAS scarpering - and the crowd home happy.


Tony Khan hit Twitter with the #AllElite announcement after the show:-

Castagnoli's night one presentation suggests an imminent mega-push for the ultra-talented Swiss star, who was recently linked with what would have been a sensational WWE return. He joins the rest of the BCC, Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz in AEW's second Blood and Guts match on this Wednesday's Dynamite.

Senior Reporter
Senior Reporter

Andy has been with WhatCulture for six years and is currently WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A writer, presenter, and editor with 10+ years of experience in online media, he has been a sponge for all wrestling knowledge since playing an old Royal Rumble 1992 VHS to ruin in his childhood. Having previously worked for Bleacher Report, Andy specialises in short and long-form writing, video presenting, voiceover acting, and editing, all characterised by expert wrestling knowledge and commentary. Andy is as much a fan of 1985 Jim Crockett Promotions as he is present-day AEW and WWE - just don't make him choose between the two.