Claudio Castagnoli has set the wrestling world abuzz by making his surprise AEW debut at Sunday’s Forbidden Door PPV, defeating Zack Sabre Jr in a hell of an encounter.
But not only will Claudio make an excellent addition to the AEW roster, but he will make an even better addition to the Blackpool Combat Club. When Bryan Danielson announced on Dynamite that his replacement in the match with Sabre Jr would also become the newest member of Blackpool Combat Club, we knew it was going to have to be someone special. With a pedigree as highly talented and successful as that held by Regal, Mox, and Danielson (Wheeler Yuta serving his apprenticeship if you like), you couldn’t have any old grappler joining the ranks.
Claudio Castagnoli’s credentials speak for themselves. Known as one of the best in-ring technicians in the world today, he has won championships in promotions as notable and varied as Chikara, CZW, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, NOAH, RevPro, ROH, wXw, and, of course, WWE. Much traveled, much acclaimed and much revered over the course of his 21-and-a-bit year career, Claudio Castagnoli is a main event-level wrestler who has never really had the opportunity to prove it on the biggest stage in WWE. Now he has the chance to do it on the new biggest stage in town.
What has me really excited though is Claudio’s union with the Blackpool Combat Club. I know, I know, Claudio Castagnoli is here and I’m more excited for his joining a stable than what he can do on his own with the handcuffs taken off. But hear me out. Blackpool Combat Club may have mixed opinions from the fans but the addition of Claudio to the group suggests the Club might be heading for a major push and that’s exciting.
When it comes to modern wrestling, as much as I like high-flying, Lucha Libre-style action, my heart really sings when confronted with hard-hitting, technical, Greco-Roman Violence. Strong Style, Pure wrestling, the British and European styles: that’s where the best contemporary wrestling can be found for me. Yuta has much potential for the future, but the real joy of BCC comes from the quality of its remaining members. Danielson and Regal are two of the best wrestlers of all time, especially Danielson; when he finally hangs up his boots, he will be seen as the Ric Flair or Bret Hart of his time. Meanwhile, Mox is surely one of the best brawlers in the game right now, having introduced MMA-style combat into his fight game convincingly (see his Bloodsport matches for evidence of his legitimacy).
The point is we are talking about three of the top talents in the game. While you could argue that Big Tony Khan has taken the slow route in building the BCC up, especially after Danielson had such a hot start to his AEW career. But with their ‘Blood & Guts’ match coming up against the Jericho Appreciation Society on this Wednesday’s Dynamite, it appears that the BCC is moving up towards the higher end of the card, exactly where they should be. Claudio Castagnoli is going to be a big part of that.
AEW is suffering a little on the main eventer front, what with CM Punk, Danielson himself, Adam Cole supposedly and Kenny Omega all out injured. Even Jungle Boy’s on the shelf! That leaves a lot of room for others, particularly those names that have main event pedigree already but perhaps have been utilized more in the mid-card in recent months.
Factor in that Mox is now back at the top of the promotion by having become the AEW Interim Champ and that the BCC will follow wherever Mox goes, and that means that the Club is going to the top of the card, or as close to, with him.
Having Claudio Castagnoli with them is going to make a hell of a difference to their legitimacy. Regal is great but he’s not wrestling, being as he is the group’s coach. Yuta has a lot of potential but he’s nowhere near the level of the others just yet—that would be a tough ask at this stage of his career, but this experience will do him lots of good. Still, that leaves Mox and Danielson as the only two legit top-level in-ring competitors they have in the group.
That changes with the addition of Claudio Castagnoli. Not only does Claudio’s brand of technical wrestling violence fit in well with the Club’s philosophy and style, but he can match Danielson blow for blow in quality in the ring, and while he can’t go as insane as Mox, he can certainly out-wrestle him. With Regal on the mic, there are no worries about Claudio’s promo skills. Simply put, if the Blackpool Combat Club is heading to the top of the card, Claudio Castagnoli only legitimizes the Club further.
I’ve talked before about who should be the next grappler to join the Blackpool Combat Club, but I never thought we’d be lucky enough to see Claudio be that member. If you’re a fan of high-quality, high-technicality, high-violence wrestling, you should be excited to see where the Blackpool Combat Club goes next. And you should definitely be excited to see the re-emergence of Claudio Castagnoli.