Claudio Castagnoli has returned back to the squared ring after being released by WWE in late February. Castagnoli stunned viewers and the audience when he was named as the wrestler to compete against Zack Sabre Jr.
The match was originally scheduled to feature Zack Sabre Jr vs Bryan Danielson but with Danielson unable to compete, Tony Khan had to look for an adequate replacement. In his place he found former No.13 on the Pro Wrestling Illustrated 500 and WWE wrestler Claudio Castagnoli.
“Sometimes the stars align for a perfect moment and that is what happened tonight,” Castagnoli said.
“I just talked to (Jon) Mox. We’ve been going back 10-12 years which is a long time. We use to ride together, we use to work out together and we still do. It just fits and at the end of the day I’m always looking for new challenges.”
Nicknamed the ‘Swiss Superman’, Castagnoli has competed on the wrestling circuit since 2000 with stints at Chikara, Combat Zone Wrestling, Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Pro Wrestling Noah. His career also includes an 11-year tenure with WWE, in which he was released from earlier this year.
“I was so excited to share the ring tonight with Zack Sabre Jr, I wrestled him last in 2009. You always look for a challenge like ZSJ. I’m like a kid in the candy store.”
It didn’t take long for him to get back to his sensational best as he opened the match with a devastating uppercut followed by his signature move the Neutralizer. Unfortunately, this didn’t get him the win so he had to battle it out until a powerbomb kept Sabre Jr down for the three count.
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The match was a complete technical clinic from both wrestlers and kept the fans on their feet and entertained. After winning the match, Castagnoli was out of breath and couldn’t believe he had beaten such a fierce competitor.
“You always look for a challenge like Zack Sabre Jr. That’s a challenge.”
While working at WWE, Castagnoli competed under two names Antonio Cesaro and Cesaro. Here he achieved many high honours and titles. These include the United States Championship, Raw and SmackDown Tag Team Championship and Andre the Giant Memorial Trophy in 2014. Many fans believed he could have gone on to win the WWE Championship, but was underutilised by the company.
Known as the strongest pound-to-pound individual in wrestling, he will undoubtedly put on many five star classics, just like the one at Forbidden Door. As the new face in the locker room, many of his colleagues will be looking to show him what it means to be ‘All Elite’. Castagnoli himself doesn’t have anyone in particular in mind for his next match-up but insists he is ready for any challenge that presents itself.
“I can just name everyone I run into the locker room and backstage. I can tell you who I don’t want to step in the ring with and that is nobody,” Castagnoli said.
“Who is my dream opponent? I don’t care, who do you guys [fans] want to see me wrestle.”
Claudio Castagnoli ended the media scrum with one simple statement to the rest of the wrestlers backstage.
“If you have a problem, call the Swiss man.”
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