Claudio Castagnoli On How Johnny Gargano Promo Led To WWE Exit

Claudio Castagnoli

Claudio Castagnoli has revealed that a promo from Johnny Gargano helped him realise that he needed to move on from WWE.

On February 24th 2022, Cesaro, real name Claudio Castagnoli’s WWE contract expired ending his 11-year association with the company, meaning he became a free agent.

The star then proceeded to lay low despite speculation linking with a move to AEW. However, the rumours proved to be true as Castagnoli made a surprise appearance at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door on June 26th where he defeated Zack Sabre Jr.

Speaking during an appearance at Starrcast V with Chris Van Vliet for his Insight podcast, Castagnoli was asked about his departure from WWE. When asked what led to his exit, the former United States Champion said that a lot of little things built up to his decision, but pointed to Johnny Gargano’s farewell promo in NXT as the tipping point.

“A lot of thought, a lot of thought actually. I felt for a while that I needed a change, and then leading up to it there was just a bunch of signs. A bunch of stuff that different people said that they probably didn’t even realise that they said it, that kind of helped me make up my mind.

On of the things that just popped in my head was was Johnny Gargano’s last promo in NXT when he said to always bet on yourself, and that was maybe the last straw, one of those, like ‘yep he’s 100% right.’ Rather go out on your own horse. Is that even a saying? It is now! [Laughs]

Claudio Castagnoli went on to explain that he wanted to keep his WWE departure quiet as he believes the element of surprise is a key component of professional wrestling.

“So it was just a lot of things kind of leading up to it. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, because a lot of people do. A lot of people, you know when Cody left he made that list of everyone he wanted to wrestle? Then after that everybody made that list and it was the new favourite thing.

So I just wanted to do it different, I’m against the grain a lot, where I’m ‘everyone is doing this, let me try and do this over here’ and I felt it was better that way because if I want to keep wrestling, then I pop up somewhere, it’s gonna be a bigger surprise.

And I feel wrestling is all about moments and if I’d have been like ‘Oh I’m leaving’ people would have know. Like, oh he’s gonna show up somewhere, but it’s kind of quiet nobody really knows what’s gonna happen, or when it’s gonna happen and that’s the beauty of wrestling. You wanna be surprised. Yeah you wanna know, but you want to be surprised. To me that’s a very important thing.”

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