Claudio Castagnoli (fka Cesaro) made his AEW debut less than three weeks ago at Forbidden Door. His current push for All Elite Wrestling is going well; in addition to defeating Zack Sabre Jr. and Jake Hager in singles action, Claudio also got the winning fall on top of the cage at Blood & Guts. It’s too early to know how far up the ladder he’ll make it in AEW, but he’s off to a promising start.
Climbing up the ladder of success as a singles star in WWE was always difficult for him. It was never going to be easy after Vince McMahon buried him on Steve Austin’s podcast in 2014. Cesaro tried his best to overcome Vince’s preconceived notions about him; he did manage to land one pay-per-view main event against Roman Reigns in 2021 and a WrestleMania victory over Seth Rollins that same year. By the time his contract ended in February 2022, however, Cesaro was jobbing to Happy Corbin in less than five minutes on television.
In a new interview with Sports Illustrated, Claudio was asked about his decision to leave WWE and eventually sign with AEW. He knew it was time to go after WWE didn’t book him as one of the 30 entrants in the Royal Rumble match in January. That being said, Castagnoli didn’t talk any trash towards WWE:
“It can be hard to take the high road, but that’s the road I am going to take. All the memories, they matter. I’m grateful for everything I have accomplished and I’m grateful for all those opportunities. And they make me work so much harder to get where I want to be.”
He wanted to sign with AEW after becoming a free agent, but first needed some time away to recharge his batteries:
“Once I left, I knew what I wanted and where I wanted to go, I just didn’t know if it would happen. That was also time for me to take a break mentally, recharge, and come back better. My goal is always to be better than I was yesterday, to be better tomorrow than I am today. I want to be even better now than people remember.”
Claudio came to AEW to pursue new challenges. That includes a world title run in the main event:
“I’m extremely excited to find out what the future holds...This is my pursuit—the main event and the world heavyweight championship. I’ve seen that pursuit destroy people. Those sacrifices ate them up, always seeking one more run. I’ve never sacrificed my authenticity or integrity.”
He vowed to deliver a memorable run for his fans:
“It’s been a long journey, but the fans have stayed with me. I’m going to take people on a ride they won’t ever forget.”
Do you think Claudio Castagnoli will ever win the AEW world championship? Let us know in the comments below, Cagesiders.