Rising to the top is never an easy thing. For Claudio Castagnoli (WWE’s Antonio Cesaro) found that making it Ring of Honor would take more than attacking one of the company’s founding fathers. From the 16th edition of The ROHbot Report, I write about being disappointed in Castagnoli’s losing ways.
Pleasing as those announcements are, I can’t help but be a little perturbed by the current situation a rather large ROH name is currently stuck in. For those who have been keeping up with the Reports, you know whom I’m talking about. For those who don’t, I’ll give you a hint: he’s a loser. Wait, don’t think I’m bashing the guy or hating on him for no reason. I’m a fan of this international grappler and been a fan for a while. But the way he’s been presented lately wouldn’t make me think of him as anything other than a loser. The man I’m referring to is Claudio Castagnoli.
Lets take a trip down memory lane. Last summer, Claudio was on the rise to what many thought would be a nice Ring of Honor World title reign. After a year of losses and frustration, Claudio snapped at “Death Before Dishonor VI”, stomping Bryan Danielson’s head in with a steel chair. I was really excited about this shocking turn of events. Claudio, while unable to wrest the ROH World title from Nigel McGuinness for several months, began to vent some frustration. The frustration boiled over into a psychotic rage that, I thought, would lead to an immediate series of matches with Danielson; or some slaughtering from Castagnoli before seeing the Danielson-Castagnoli series continuing. Instead, we’ve seen Claudio lose time and time again. Actually, I looked it up and found that Claudio hasn’t won a match since “Vendetta II” back in June (almost five months as I write this). Even before the attitude change, Claudio Castagnoli has been seen as a loser.
I wouldn’t feel this way if his bad guy persona actually brought forth good results in his win/loss record. It hasn’t helped him, and it certainly hasn’t made him look any better. Claudio is in worse shape than he was this time last year. Claudio’s in worse shape than he was six months ago! It was half a year ago when Castagnoli was headlining “A New Level” in ROH’s Hammerstein Ballroom debut. Now he can’t even win one of those wacky Six Way Fray bouts featuring mostly under card wrestler. And look at his opponent from “A New Level” – Nigel McGuinness.
Nigel has been the complete opposite of Claudio in terms of a heel turn. Both men faced the same frustration of not being able to win the ROH World title, with both ROH competitors turning against the fans not long after tasting main event status. Yes, Nigel won the belt, but he’s appeared vulnerable in almost every defense since winning the belt, for real reasons and from great booking. Claudio hasn’t come across as vulnerable because he hasn’t looked credible. The Swiss wrestler hasn’t appeared credible because he can’t win a match. The dramatic moment of attacking Bryan Danielson at “Death Before Dishonor VI” should’ve caused him to change his overall perception, allowing him to win a majority of his matches leading up to the inevitable Danielson clash.
I know you’re probably thinking that I think a win over Danielson will make everything better for Claudio. It will help, but it won’t erase the erosion of Claudio’s losing streak. ROH is going to have to put some work in to get Claudio back in the position he was last year this time. A high intense, and more importantly victorious, feud with Bryan Danielson should be the first step. While this is going on, Tyler Black rises to ROH supremacy as the new World champion. And the rest writes itself. Who knows, with this plan, Claudio could become one of the hottest heels in ROH history…or it could lead to the end of another era in Ring of Honor.