Claudio Castagnoli is All Elite.

During the AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door pay-per-view, Claudio Castagnoli (FKA Cesaro in WWE) debuted when he was the mystery opponent against Zack Sabre Jr., who was slated to face Bryan Danielson, tonight. However, on the 6/22 episode of AEW Dynamite, Danielson confirmed that he wasn’t medically cleared to compete but stated that he had a suitable replacement to face Sabre Jr. at tonight’s event.

The match against Sabre Jr. would mark Castagnoli’s first appearance in a non-WWE ring since signing with the company in 2011. Before his decade-long run in WWE, Castagnoli was a star on the independent scene, most notably having runs in Ring Of Honor, PWG, CZW, and Chikara. Castagnoli initially signed with WWE in 2011 where he quickly rose the ranks, going from the company’s development territory FCW and quickly making his main roster debut in April 2012. The former Cesaro would win his first singles title just four months following his SmackDown debut, defeating Santino Marella to win the United States Championship. The ‘Swiss-Superman’ is a seven-time WWE Tag Team Champion, holding the titles with Sheamus (5 times), Shinsuke Nakamura (1 time), and Tyson Kidd (1 time). Castagnoli quietly let his WWE deal expire this past February, ending an 11-year tenure with the company.

Following his WWE departure, Castagnoli was reportedly ‘laying low’ and taking some time off to be with his family before making his in-ring return. It was reported that Castagnoli had a high asking price when being approached by several companies to make an appearance but it appears as if he and AEW President and CEO, Tony Khan reached an agreement.

Wrestling Inc. has ongoing coverage of AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door, which can be found by clicking here.

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