A new report has revealed that the stars of WWE were just as shocked as the rest of the wrestling world when Claudio Castagnoli made his AEW debut at Forbidden Door.
Claudio Castagnoli was part of the WWE roster for over a decade under the name of Cesaro. During his time there, the Swiss Superman reigned with the United States Championship and later became a tag team specialist, capturing different versions of tag team gold an impressive seven times with three different partners. Despite his success, Cesaro was only ever able to challenge for the top title once, unsuccessfully clashing with Roman Reigns over the Universal Championship at WrestleMania Backlash in 2021.
Castagnoli decided against re-signing with WWE when his contract expired in February 2022 and kept a low profile ever since.
When Bryan Danielson announced he couldn’t compete at either Forbidden Door or Blood & Guts, he revealed he had hand-picked a replacement for both shows. Speculation immediately mounted that it would be Claudio Castagnoli, and at Forbidden Door, that proved to be the case as he made his debut for the company and defeated Zack Sabre Jr. in his first bout there. Later in the week, he also picked up the victory for his team at Blood & Guts.
While the wrestling world had a positive reaction to Claudio Castagnoli becoming All Elite, a new report has noted there was shock within the WWE locker room that he didn’t sign a new contract there.
Dave Meltzer wrote in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that a lot of talent in WWE were shocked because of the big money offer he had received from the company. Many are said to believe that AEW must have matched WWE’s offer to Castagnoli or surpassed it, something people in WWE thought AEW was no longer doing with contract offers.