Claudio Castagnoli Explains Why He Let His WWE Contract Expire

Claudio Castagnoli's mind was ready for a change of scene, a change of pace. "I kinda felt that it was time to try something new, to look for a new challenge," the Ring Of Honor World Champion told Kurt Angle on the latest "The Kurt Angle Show." The former Cesaro said that when it came to not renewing his contract with WWE, "to an extent my mind was made up."


"I'm always happy and grateful," Castagnoli continued, "but I also kinda knew where I was thought of. So, I was just looking for something different." Outside of rare wins in the Andre The Giant Battle Royal at WrestleMania 30 in 2014 or his victory over Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 37 in 2021, Castagnoli had found himself with a lack of forward momentum in WWE. "When I look at AEW," Castagnoli said of his new home promotion, "there's so many guys that I want to be in the ring with that I haven't necessarily been in the ring with." Cesaro goes on to praise Wheeler Yuta and Daniel Garcia for their lauded ROH Pure Championship match on "Dynamite". "Those guys, they're like 24 years old. It's insane. Imagine how good they're gonna be when they're 30." 


Castagnoli credits the talented locker room with drawing him to the promotion. "There's so many young people there that I was like 'this is amazing. I want to be part of that.' You're only as good as your last match and you need to be doing stuff with people that push you and are better than you."  Castagnoli says he looked at AEW and said to himself, "I want to wrestle those young guys and I want to see if I still got it." Many would argue Castagnoli recently proved he does indeed still have it, defending his title in an acclaimed match against Dax Harwood of FTR on "Rampage."