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Claudio Castagnoli made an immediate impact the moment he stepped into All Elite Wrestling at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door, joining the Blackpool Combat Club and defeating Zach Sabre Jr. Castagnoli’s debut came after he quietly left the WWE in February, deciding not to renew his contract and move on from wrestling’s biggest company. The Swiss Superman had spent a decade working in the WWE prior to becoming All Elite, winning multiple midcard and tag team championships but never taking what many saw as his rightful place in the main event.

According to Castagnoli himself during an interview with Sports Illustrated, he wanted to rewrite his own future as a member of AEW, a decision he came to after being left off the Royal Rumble show entirely this past January, despite being healthy.

“It can be hard to take the high road, but that’s the road I am going to take,” Castagnoli said, opting not to criticize his former employer. “All the memories, they matter. I’m grateful for everything I have accomplished and I’m grateful for all those opportunities. And they make me work so much harder to get where I want to be.

“Once I left, I knew what I wanted and where I wanted to go, I just didn’t know if it would happen. That was also time for me to take a break mentally, recharge, and come back better. My goal is always to be better than I was yesterday, to be better tomorrow than I am today. I want to be even better now than people remember.”

Castagnoli labeled his AEW debut as a star-aligning moment and called his signing “a perfect fit.” He’s scheduled to face his former Real Americans tag team partner Jake Hager on tonight’s AEW Fyter Fest. Hager has been chirping the former Cesaro since he got to AEW, calling him out for his lack of holding a World Championship in the WWE.

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Sports Illustrated with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.

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