Tony Khan Reveals How Claudio Castagnoli's AEW Debut Came Together

Tony Khan reveals how Claudio Castagnoli came to appear at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door

In a major moment at Sunday's Forbidden Door pay-per-view, it was revealed that Claudio Castagnoli was Zack Sabre Jr.'s mystery opponent and the latest member of Blackpool Combat Club. The Swiss Superman and ZSJ then had a spirited contest and the former Cesaro would pick up the win with the Ricola Bomb.

That wasn't the original plan, though, as Bryan Danielson was initially set to face Sabre at Forbidden Door but the match was scrapped after Danielson picked up an injury, believed to be a concussion, at the May 29th Double Or Nothing pay-per-view. If The American Dragon had been in action at Forbidden Door, Tony Khan noted during the post-Forbidden Door media scrum there is a good chance Castagnoli would have debuted at the upcoming ROH Death Before Dishonor show. The AEW President ultimately pivoted to Claudio after he discovered Danielson wasn't feeling 100%.

"I asked him [Claudio] about coming in before I knew for sure that Bryan was out, though I had a pretty good idea that Punk would be out. I could tell there would be a lot of changes. We already had a lot of injured people, I had no idea we would have even more on the run-up to the show. It was the day after the Forum, so June 2, I called and had interest, there was definitely mutual interest. At that point, I felt there was a good chance. I wasn't sure if it would be here or another thing or Death Before Dishonor, July 23, on pay-per-view in Lowell, Massachusetts. Ring of Honor's return event," Khan began. 

"I figured there was a chance that if Bryan made it back, there was a good chance that he would have started at Death Before Dishonor and it would have been a great moment there. As long as Bryan is okay, that's the most important thing. It was a great moment to have at Forbidden Door. I talked to Bryan on the phone last weekend and he told me that he wasn't feeling 100%. As soon as he said that, we're eight days from the pay-per-view, 'If you're not feeling 100%, don't even think about wrestling on the pay-per-view or Blood & Guts' because he had been feeling well," the AEW President continued.

"I talked to him in St. Louis and he was feeling great and he was so optimistic and was that fired up Bryan Danielson. He wanted to go. I didn't want to take another chance as soon as he said (he wasn't feeling 100%). He mentioned Claudio and I said, 'That’s funny, I have Claudio under contract.' I hadn't told anybody. It worked out before for all of us." 

Following his AEW debut, Castagnoli will be involved at Blood & Guts on Wednesday's Dynamite when he teams with Eddie Kingston, Jon Moxley, Santana, Ortiz, and Wheeler Yuta against the Jericho Appreciation Society.

H/T to Fightful

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Aidan Gibbons

Written by Aidan Gibbons

Journalist/Editor-in-Chief of Twitter: @theaidangibbons