Eddie Kingston defeated Claudio Castagnoli in front of a rabid New York City crowd tonight at AEW Grand Slam, capturing the Ring of Honor World Championship and successfully defending the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship. This is Kingston’s first time holding the ROH World Title, and Kingston made it happen in front of his hometown crowd, putting a definitive end to his highly personal feud against Castagnoli.
The match started off with the two men exchanging strikes before things soon moved to the outside. Castagnoli then took control, inflicting some damage before getting Kingston back into the ring. It was clear that both men were very familiar with one another, with Castagnoli and Kingston each having an answer for the other’s offense. Despite some very close calls, Kingston was able to hang on long enough to land a spinning back fist and powerbomb to put Castagnoli down for the three-count. Following the match, Castagnoli offered up a handshake as a sign of respect, which Kingston reluctantly accepted.
Castagnoli and Kingston are longtime rivals, with their in-character animosity dating back to their time in Chikara together. Prior to tonight, their most recent meeting came in March, when Castagnoli successfully defended the Ring of Honor World Championship against Kingston at ROH Supercard of Honor 2023. Since then, Castagnoli has continued his dominant run with the Blackpool Combat Club, while Kingston spent time recovering from an injury before traveling to Japan to compete in this year’s G1 Climax tournament. Kingston captured the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship on July 5 by defeating KENTA, and then went on to pick up victories in the G1 against Shingo Takagi, Tama Tonga, and Mikey Nicholls.
Kingston is a native of Yonkers, just outside New York City. Before making his AEW debut against Cody Rhodes in July 2020, Kingston made a name for himself in promotions like the NWA, EVOLVE, Absolutely Intense Wrestling, and the aforementioned Chikara. As for Castagnoli, he competed for a number of years in WWE as Cesaro before making the move to AEW last year.