Following Claudio Castagnoli’s shock AEW debut at Forbidden Door, Tony Khan has revealed what his original plans were for the Swiss star’s debut.
Bryan Danielson set the rumour mill into overdrive when he announced he was injured and would be missing both Forbidden Door and Blood and Guts. Danielson was originally challenged for Forbidden Door by New Japan star Zack Sabre Jr. but promised the world a worthy replacement for both bouts.
At Forbidden Door, the world got its answer, and Blackpool Combat Club got its newest member as Claudio Castagnoli – formerly known as Cesaro in WWE – made his AEW entrance to a rapturous reception.
Speaking at the post-show media scrum, AEW President Tony Khan discussed how the signing came together and says if Danielson had remained healthy, Claudio Castagnoli’s debut wouldn’t have been at an AEW event but rather on Ring of Honor’s comeback show:
“I asked him about coming in before I knew for sure that Bryan was out, though I had a pretty good idea that Punk would be out. I could tell there would be a lot of changes. We already had a lot of injured people, I had no idea we would have even more on the run-up to the show.”
“It was the day after the Forum, so June 2nd, I called and had interest, there was definitely mutual interest. At that point, I felt there was a good chance. I wasn’t sure if it would be here or another thing or Death Before Dishonor, July 23, on pay-per-view in Lowell, Massachusetts. Ring of Honor’s return event.”
“I figured there was a chance that if Bryan made it back, there was a good chance that he would have started at Death Before Dishonor and it would have been a great moment there.”
According to Tony Khan, Bryan Danielson also brought Castagnoli’s name up as a possible replacement and was the first to know that the former WWE United States Champion was All Elite:
“As long as Bryan is okay, that’s the most important thing. It was a great moment to have at Forbidden Door. I talked to Bryan on the phone last weekend and he told me that he wasn’t feeling 100%. As soon as he said that, we’re eight days from the pay-per-view, ‘if you’re not feeling 100%, don’t even think about wrestling on the pay-per-view or Blood & Guts because he had been feeling well.”
“I talked to him in St. Louis and he was feeling great and he was so optimistic and was that fired up Bryan Danielson. He wanted to go. I didn’t want to take another chance as soon as he said (he wasn’t feeling 100%). He mentioned Claudio and I said, ‘that’s funny, I have Claudio under contract.’ I hadn’t told anybody. It worked out for all of us.”