Claudio Castagnoli revels in his chance to lead ROH, enters Final Battle: ‘Beacon of Faith’

For Claudio Castagnoli, it’s a matter of confidence.

He feels it will show when All Elite Wrestling President Tony Khan takes on world champion Chris Jericho for the title in the Final Fight (4 p.m., Bleacher Report) at the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas. saturday Being in the main event of pay-per-views hasn’t been a role Castagnoli has had much of during his career, as he was often stuck in the mid-card during his WWE role as Cesaro. That’s why he loves this opportunity and responsibility.

“It means my work speaks for itself and you can count on me with the pay-per-view main event and you know I’m going to deliver,” Castagnoli said in a phone interview. “To me, that shows a lot of confidence.”

It’s somewhat uncharted waters for the 41-year-old Castagnoli, who won his first career world title when he defeated Jonathan Gresham for the ROH belt at Death Before Dishonor in June. Being a Ring of Honor world champion means something special to him because it was “for the best wrestler of all time” and “for those who have honed their skills and need a place for the world to shine.”

Claudio Castagnoli

If Castagnoli can defeat Jericho and become a two-time Ring of Fame World Champion, that would make him the face of the promotion at a crucial time leading up to 2023. Khan bought the promotion in March and is trying to secure weekly television. or a streaming deal for Ring of Honor. So far, he’s been featured on AEW’s weekly shows, but doesn’t have a place to call his own. Hopefully a deal for Ring of Honor will happen as AEW is also negotiating its new TV rights deal. Khan said in a media call on Wednesday that he will address the issue after the final fight. Castagnoli believes he is the ideal representative for the company and believes AEW and Ring of Honor have the ability to succeed on separate shows.

“Looking back, my entire career has been one of honor and integrity, and he’s been a guy you can send anywhere in the world and you know he’ll do the company justice and represent it well.” said Castagnoli. “I would love to do it for Ring of Honor, bring it back to TV and then showcase more talent on that show because the talent in Ring of Honor and AEW is so deep.”

To do this, he will have to defeat Jericho, whose story is based on a months-long feud between the Jericho Appreciation Society, a heel stable that prides itself on being “sports players”, and Castagnoli’s “professional wrestlers”. Blackpool Fight Club. Jericho defeated him for the title at AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam in September, using a low blow to win. But if Castagnoli loses again on Saturday, he’ll have to join the Jericho Appreciation Society and become a “sportsman” again. It’s something he’s not interested in.

“The worst thing is probably being around Magic Dad [Matt Menard] “He’s been shaking after hearing his anger for so long,” Castagnoli said. “And [Jake] Hager’s [purple] hat. Just, oh God, please, no. I should have a great Saturday.”

Castagnoli said he went to AEW to become a professional wrestler again after 11 years in WWE, rather than a sports player, but believes the line between the two is closer than people think.

Claudio Castagnoli pinned Chris Jericho.

“While I feel there are athletes who are really good wrestlers, being a professional wrestler is a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s where you set your priorities.”

Although Castagnoli and Jericho don’t currently see each other on screen, he said he would “be a fool” not to respect the champion for helping to build visibility and interest around the title during his reign. Jericho, who is in great shape at the age of 52, has had great televised matches with Bandido, Dalton Castle, Brian Danielson, Tomohiro Ishii and Colt Cabana since winning the belt. But Jericho also attacked the likes of ROH ring announcer Bobby Cruise and player Ian Riccaboni after the matches for his lack of respect for the promotion.

“It just feels like the Ring of Honor World Championship has not been presented and treated with the respect it deserves, and I want to restore the Ring of Honor World Championship honor,” Castagnoli said. “I’d say Chris did his job. That’s what Chris Jericho does.”

Castagnoli, Jericho, Danielson and Sammy Guevara had a show-stealing four-way match for the Rings of Honor world title at Full Gear last month. The story of how any alliance between the four friends is gradually thrown out the window. Jericho got the win with a Judas Effect elbow drop on Castagnoli while Guevara was in a big swing. Despite the finish, Castagnoli was very pleased with the performance they put on.

“Sometimes the four paths can be a little confusing and or a little hard to follow, and I think that’s been really fun because I’ve had a lot of different moments between the four members. I thought it was, no matter who you like, no matter what style you like, no matter what you expect, I think it delivered all of that and maybe more,” he said.

Claudio Castagnoli hits Chris Jericho

One of the reasons it was so important to him was to form the Blackpool Fight Club with Danielson and John Moxley, both of whom had been with Castagnoli for a large part of his career, to promote the pure style of fighting. According to him, the group is a perfect fit. It was as if the three of them had never been apart and things “clicked instantly”.

“I have a lot of respect for those guys, and they’ve always made it their way,” Castagnoli said.

The band looks a little different going forward without their mentor and on-screen manager, William Regal. His tenure with the company would end after a sabbatical as he asked not to have his contract renewed so he could return to WWE to work with his son Charlie Dempsey. Regal was taken off TV last week after being attacked by MJF. Castagnoli said fans will have to watch “Dynamite this week and next week and the week after that” to see how the band will adjust without him.

When asked if the company and individual wrestlers are taking full advantage of Regal’s wealth of wrestling knowledge, Castagnoli noted that Regal goes the extra mile for those willing to participate.

“He helped the talent by going early and doing training and stuff,” he said. “Everybody that’s used it, I think it’s grown a lot.”

Castagnoli joined the group, which also included Wheeler Utah, after coming to AEW in June and taking on Zack Saber Jr. at the Forbidden Door, which was still a technical wrestling show. counts his first match with and then the Blood and Guts riots. a few days later, became his two favorites in the promotion because “they were so opposite”. Going forward, he aims to fight All-Atlantic champion Orange Cassidy at some point.

“I believe in the style of the match and I’ve known Orange Cassidy for a long time, and maybe even without him being Orange Cassidy, I’d love to get in the ring with him,” Castagnoli said. “I think it’s going to be an interesting time.”

He would love the task of defeating Jericho in the Finals on Saturday, winning the World Championship Ring of Honor, winning the ball and leading the promotion at a pivotal time in its history.

“It’s a beacon of confidence,” Castagnoli said. “It’s a show of confidence that you can do it, that the company believes you’re the kind of person who can do it. And it proves to me that all the pain and sacrifice to get to this point is worth it and I can win big. I can win the last fight.”


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