AEW's Claudio Castagnoli Compares Being An Ex-WWE Guy To Soccer

Since AEW was founded in 2019, a number of former WWE names have joined the company. Wrestling has a notoriously tribalistic fan base, and such additions to the roster have drawn stigma simply for their prior stint with the competition. Claudio Castagnoli spent over a decade with WWE before joining AEW in 2022, and shared his take on the "ex-WWE guy" discourse during an interview with WrestleTalk

"Before AEW, if you wanted to make it or, like, work on a more consistent basis or just all the time, that [WWE] was the goal; WWE or maybe New Japan if you want to do the tours and stuff. So before AEW, if you wanted to do this full-time as a valuable job, you can do the indies towards the end, or you become a WWE guy," he reasoned. 

Castagnoli shared his appreciation for his time with WWE, explaining that he learned much about the business after thousands of matches with the promotion. He said it's where he got to cut his teeth and sit under the learning tree of the greats, and he wouldn't want to take back the time he spent with WWE. But he doesn't think he should be identified by his prior employment. 

"If you want to look at it in [soccer], if you go through Manchester Academy and then you start playing for Fulham, you're going to be the ex-Manchester guy? It's kind of like you going to the new team and then that's who you are. You're not just going to be like, 'Ah, why is this ex-Barcelona player on my team?'"