The heat between Claudio Castagnoli and Eddie Kingston in AEW is no shoot
Wrestling, regardless of whether it’s done in an AEW, WWE, or any other ring, is built on feuds.
AEW x NJPW’s Forbidden Door was chocked full of intriguing in-ring battles between performers who have been passing like ships in the night for years – Jon Moxley and Hiroshi Tanahashi – white-hot, livewire rivalries between an odd-couple who genuinely don’t seem to like each other – Eddie Kingston and Chris Jericho – and even friendly rivalries between friends that rapidly fell apart when preparation met opportunity, as Adam Cole and Jay White will surely tell you.
And yet, the biggest feud that sparked at Forbidden Door wasn’t between two performers who met in the ring, but instead a pair who are set to team up on the next episode of Dynamite, where The Blackpool Combat Club plus Eddie Kingston’s New York Possee – unofficial name – will take on the Jericho Appreciation Society, who, in case you haven’t heard, are the recognized symbol of excellence of sports entertainers: Eddie Kingston versus Claudio Castagnoli, or, as you may know him from his time in WWE, Antonio Cesaro.
‘But how could this be? How could two performers who just met presumably for the first time during the post-main event beatdown between the JAS and the Moxley Maniacs – again, not an official name – be more heated than Adam Cole versus Jay White, Ortiz versus Chris Jericho, or even Eddie Kingston versus Chris Jericho?’ If you fall into that camp then you, friend, are in for a treat, as there’s a long and contentious history between Castagnoli and Kingston that should prove both compelling and captivating on AEW television – which, considering Kingston once attempted to douse one of his AEW co-workers with gasoline and literally set them on fire, is really saying something.
Well look who has grown a pair! Hahahahahaha https://t.co/pLzwmoXLPg
— Eddie Kingston #BlackLivesMatter (@MadKing1981) June 27, 2022
Claudio-Kingston is going to be a box office attraction in AEW.
Eddie Kingston and Claudio Castagnoli have shared the ring officially on 31 occasions, first in October of 2004 in a “tag-team three-way dance” at IWA Mid-South Autumn Armageddon when the former was tagging with Jack Marciano as The Wild Cards and the latter was teaming with future ROH booker Delirious, all the way up until March 13th of 2011, when then man about to become Cesaro in WWE took down “The Mad King” in a 24-minute slugfest at Chikara’s Creatures From The Tar Swamp.
What happened in the six-plus years sandwiched between those two matches, however, is what led Kingston to give the following quote to Sean Ross Sapp about his feelings on Castagnoli.
Eddie Kingston told me if he ever had to eat lunch with Claudio Castagnoli he'd stab him with a fork
— Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com (@SeanRossSapp) June 27, 2022
You have to give it to Kingston, he’s certainly an evocative talker.
Castagnoli and Kingston didn’t face off in the ring in singles competition until January of 2006, seven months after they teamed together as The Swiss Money Husslaz at Golden Voice Entertainment’s Memorial Mauling. At the time, Castagnoli was part of a faction called The Kings of Wrestling that also featured Chris Hero and Kingston was wrestling as part of BLKOUT with Joker, and the duo were tasked with a single match at IWF’s Motown Meltdown in-between title matches between the two factions at promotions like CZW and Chikara. While Castagnoli would share the ring a few more times, with the former consistently getting the best of his Yonkers-born foe, they weren’t quite at the level of on-sight anger they are now just yet, as they would go to team up as part of Team CZW alongside Hero, Necro Butcher, and “Spyder” Nate Webb in a cross-promotional Cage of Death match versus Team ROH.
No, the real contentious stuff wouldn’t come into play until 2009, when, after years of feeling like the little brother in their relationship, Kingston snapped and started an all-out war with Castagnoli, whom he felt never respected him or his work. This thought, though maybe a bit overly dramatic, wasn’t completely unwarranted, as Castagnoli had fully embraced a cocky heel persona during his time in Team Uppercut with Bryan Danielson and Dave Taylor. With his team, The Roughnecks – which also featured Brodie Lee – officially eliminated by Team Uppercut in the King of Trios 2009, Kingston turned his attention to Castagnoli, whom he would go on to wrestle nine times in either singles or tag team competition, including one particularly brutal Respect match that would have required the “Swiss Superman” to say he respects “The Mad King” if he lost, which ultimately didn’t happen.
Though things would cool down for a bit in 2010, with the duo only wrestling together in tag and/or multi-man matches, Kingston ratcheted things up considerably in early 2011, when, after Castagnoli addressed the crowed at Clutch Of Doom about his future following a loss to The Colony – then featuring Orange Cassidy as Fire Ant – at Clutch of Doom in Easton, Pennsylvania, he charged the ring and demanded one final bout against his long-time rival, which took place at Creatures From The Tar Swamp and effectively iced out the feud six months before Antonio Cesaro debuted for WWE developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling.
Goodness, Kingston, Claudio, and Bryce Remsburg all had hair in that video; 2011 was a long time ago indeed.
Will Tony Khan pick up this long-dormant Chikara feud in AEW or will he take things in a different direction? Well, if Kingston’s reaction to seeing Castagnoli in the flesh at the end of Forbidden Door is of any indication, it would appear the answer is firmly the former, as fans will see soon enough when they are tasked with working together in Blood and Guts on the next episode of Dynamite.