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AEW’s Claudio Castagnoli knew ‘where I wanted to go’ after leaving WWE

The former Cesaro debuted for his new promotion at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door.

Claudio Castagnoli knew where he wanted to take his career after WWE, he just didn't know if it would happen. 

The 41-year-old was with WWE from September 2011 up until his contract officially expired on February 24 of this year. During an interview with Sports Illustrated, Castagnoli noted that he's going to "take the high road" when speaking about his former employer.  

“It can be hard to take the high road, but that’s the road I am going to take,” he said. “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."

Castagnoli continued to say that he knew where he wanted to end up after leaving WWE but was happy to take some time to recharge before returning to the ring. 

“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 debuted as the newest member of the Blackpool Combat Club at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door. Being part of the faction has contributed to him feeling as though everything is clicking so far in AEW. 

“I came to AEW for new challenges,” Castagnoli says. “That’s why I fit perfectly in the Blackpool Combat Club. Like [William] Regal said, ‘You either step up or get stepped on.’ I loved coming in with the BCC because I’ve known those guys for such a long time, and I know they have my back no matter what.:

“It feels like everything here is clicking in AEW. It doesn’t feel like it’s only been a couple weeks. I’m extremely excited to find out what the future holds.”

Castagnoli is scheduled to face Jake Hager Wednesday on AEW Dynamite.