Bryan Danielson’s handpicked opponent to take on Zack Sabre Jr. at AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door was none other than Claudio Castagnoli, formerly known as Cesaro in WWE.
At AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door, Bryan Danielson was scheduled to take on Zack Sabre Jr. in a battle to see who was the best technical wrestler in the world. Unfortunately, Danielson revealed that he is not cleared to compete for the event. But, he did announce that he will handpick his replacement to not only take on Sabre at the pay-per-view, but join the Blackpool Combat Club stable and participate in the Blood and Guts cage match on the June 29 episode of AEW Dynamite.
There was much anticipation heading into the event as to who would be the person to take on Sabre at the supershow. As it turned out, it was none other than Claudio Castagnoli, formerly known as Cesaro in WWE.
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In the match, Castagnoli got off to a strong start with a vicious running uppercut and a Gotch-Style Neutralizer to Sabre, which resulted in a two count. Castagnoli showed off his strength by carrying Sabre from the floor, up the ringside steps and to the ring with one arm. The two would exchange submission holds, but it was Castagnoli who was victorious after hitting Sabre with a Ricola Bomb.
Castagnoli had been a free agent since this past February after his contract with WWE expired and both parties could not reach an agreement on a new deal.
Fightful Select (subscription required) reported in the lead up to the pay-per-view that the company had promotional material produced for the Blood and Guts match that featured Castagnoli. However, the outlet noted that they were not explicitly told that Cesaro would be Danielson’s replacement.
Castagnoli is now in AEW as the newest member of the Blackpool Combat Club, and he will take on Jericho Appreciation Society.