In a rematch that was six months in the making, Eddie Kingston finally got another shot at the ROH World Championship and Claudio Castganoli. Castagnoli defeated Kingston at Supercard of Honor in March. Shortly after, Kingston announced that he needed hernia surgery and would miss six weeks.
Following his recovery, he competed in NJPW. In July, he won the STRONG Openweight Championship from KENTA. He then entered the legendary G1 Climax tournament. He spent a grueling three weeks in Japan before returning to compete at ALL IN in a Stadium Stampede match.
In order to get a rematch, Kingston had to put his STRONG title on the line as well. The Title vs. Title match took place at the annual AEW Grand Slam show. Grand Slam takes place at the famed Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York. Kingston came into the match with the hometown advantage. The match opened Dynamite and there was immediately a big fight feel, made even bigger by the giant pop Kingston received.
Twenty years of friendship and hate came through in this match. Castagnoli wanted to prove that Kingston didn’t deserve to be anywhere near the title, while Kingston wanted to not only defeat his nemesis but take his title too. The men were fiercely locked in and gave everything that they possibly could.
In the end, it was “The Mad King” who dethroned his foe. The crowd erupted for him. Castagnoli did shake his hand. In a recent promo, Castagnoli said he “has no personal attachment” to the title. To him, it’s just a job and he is “really, really, really good at my job.” On this night, Kingston was better at the job.
In a bittersweet moment, Kingston became the ROH World Champion on the eve of the 21st anniversary of the late Xavier winning the very same title. Xavier was the second ROH World Champion. He was a good friend of Kingston’s and after the match, he dedicated the match to Xavier.
After the match, Kingston shared some thoughts. He doesn’t respect Castagnoli as a person but respects him as a wrestler. “I’m proud. I’m happy. When I get back to the hotel, I’m not going to be proud and happy because now I know I have to defend this championship and this championship. It’s going to be hard, but I like it. Without struggle, there is no progress.”
Putting the ROH World Championship on Kingston was the right call. It’s long overdue. What a journey for him. When he answered Cody Rhodes’ open challenge for the TNT Championship in 2020, he was close to retiring and getting a “real” job. He instantly resonated with AEW fans and quickly became a fan favorite. For fans who had seen him in IMPACT Wrestling and on the Indies, these last few years have been incredible to see.
Kingston couldn’t defeat Jon Moxley to become the AEW World Champion. He came up short against his arch-rival earlier in the year. Now, Kingston has two titles in two companies.
Castagnoli versus Kingston has been the perfect feud for the early episodes of ROH. Castagnoli was a great champion and he’s a phenomenal wrestler, but he spent a lot of time away from ROH. Some that wasn’t his fault. Kingston is someone who the ROH fans can identify with and get behind. He can do like his predecessor and defend his title in AEW as well. ROH under Tony Khan is still trying to find its identity and Kingston can be the anchor (ATHENA is the star).
Long may “The Mad King” reign, partna.