Claudio Castagnoli‘s surprise appearance at AEW x NJPW’s Forbidden Door took many by surprise. For company president Tony Khan, it was a necessary backup plan that wound up working out wonderfully well.
During an appearance on My Mom’s Basement with Robbie Fox, the AEW president recalled how he had to pivot and make a new plan when it was apparent that Danielson wouldn’t be ready to compete at the pay-per-view. Thankfully, he had already signed Castagnoli, so he had a substitute in place.
“I talked to him on Saturday, the weekend before Forbidden Door, and he wasn’t feeling as good, and he just said ‘I don’t feel as good today, I’m just a little concerned,’ and I told him ‘Bryan, if you’re not feeling 100%, we’re eight days out from the pay-per-view, there’s no way I want you to even consider wrestling. Please just relax,” said Khan. “And he said to me ‘Okay that’s great, I think Claudio could be awesome for this, if there’s any way we can work it out,’ and I told him ‘Well, it’s funny you mention that, Bryan, because I have Claudio under contract already. I had anticipated we might need him, and he’s here for us.’ So, Bryan was so relieved to hear that, and of course, I called Claudio and told him ‘Hey, you’re in, and we’re going to do this,’ and it worked out amazingly well.”
Khan went on to describe how Castagnoli reacted after he scored the victory for his team in the Blood & Guts match, as the fan-favorite star was clearly happy with how his first week with AEW turned out. The company president stated that he was glad that the Swiss star felt that way because he’s a fan of Castagnoli, and he’s confident that bringing him in was a good move from a business standpoint.
“After the Blood and Guts match, I stood up out of my chair in guerilla, and he walked back through and shook my hand, and Claudio said, ‘This is amazing, I could not have asked for a better first week. I’ve never had a better week, this is awesome,'” said Khan. “And I really took that to heart, because like you Rob, I think he’s one of my favorite wrestlers, and he’s a great person in real life, and coming into AEW, to be in All Elite Wrestling, and to wrestle Zack Sabre at Forbidden Door, and then to have that Blood and Guts match, and for him to get the big win, and the way it came all together, it was perfect.
“And I’m glad it made him happy, I know it made me, and it sounds like you, and a lot of fans all over the world happy, and it was a big box office success for us. You know, it is a business, and business wise, it was very good. It was the number one show on cable, we had over 1 million live viewers just in the United States, and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of fans all over the world also watching. And it was one of our most special days, and Claudio made it happen.”
Time will tell what Castagnoli’s future holds; in the short-term, he will face Jake Hager on the July 13 episode of AEW Dynamite.