Last weekend the WWE’s live events came close to home, with a live show in Kalamazoo, Michigan. For me that’s a little under two hours away. I didn’t go, but one of my close friends did and brought his girlfriend’s six year-old with him. He said it was a great time, but what was most shocking was the huge reception given to Cesaro, who was clearly one of the favorites on the entire show.
Personally, I’m not as shocked by this as he was, and I’m very happy that others see what I see. Cesaro, in my eyes, is hands-down the best performer in WWE right now. You might argue with me, and that’s fine (it’s not), and I’ll defend that statement in just a moment. With my Smackdown reviews every week you see me drool over this man’s in-ring abilities, and with the injury to his tag team partner, Tyson Kidd, you’ll also see that I have begun to express concern over what direction the Swiss superstar is going to have now that his run in the tag division is being torn from him.
As someone heavily invested in Cesaro, it’s an emotional roller coaster. He came to WWE with guns blazing, took the US Title, had a very long run with some incredible matches, then lost it and sorta faded away. Then he started to re-surge as part of the Real Americans tag team, then really resurged after his victory in the first Andre the Giant Battle Royal and his pairing with Paul Heyman, then faded away again, then came roaring back in his tag team with Tyson Kidd…and now he’s where he is. Even week-to-week it’s up and down. Two weeks ago he took on Kevin Owens in an amazing (though far more brief than I would like) match for the NXT Title, then the following week he wasn’t on the show at all…followed by him accepting John Cena’s US Title open and putting on another phenomenal match. Jesus Christ. My heart.
That’s the story of the artist formerly known as Antonio Cesaro, though. He works and he works and he works to get to a place. By the very admittance in a public forum of the CEO of the company, Vince McMahon, the reason Cesaro isn’t featured more is because he’s, “Missing something.” What, Vince? What more can this man possibly need?
This is the part where I defend that statement about how great he is. I told you it was coming.
The great thing about Cesaro is that he can play whatever role is needed. Put him in a match with a guy like Mark Henry and suddenly Cesaro is a high-flyer. Put him in there with Neville and he’s going to be a powerhouse. Hell, he’s also going to be the high-flyer who can effortlessly lift The Big Show and toss him over the top rope. Put him in the ring with Daniel Bryan and now you have him transform into a technical grappler, but then he immediately flips the switch to become a brawler when he hits the ring with Kevin Owens. Meanwhile, he’s speaking five languages and pulling off moves that we’ve never even seen before.
The best part, by far, with Cesaro is something that I’m not sure everyone picks up on. His matches just feel…different. I don’t have any way to explain this because it’s just how his style has managed to mix with the more standard WWE style. His suplexes are from crazy positions where his opponent should have far too much leverage to be suplexed. He hits crazy diving moves, lands on his head, and gets up without it seeming to affect him. He hits one single uppercut over and over and over and it looks like the most barbaric thing ever, then can turn around, hit a ridiculous overhead press, and slap on the Sharpshooter. But that’s not even all of it. He has strange spots when in the ring with multiple opponents that you just don’t see every day. I recall a triple threat with Natalya involved against two other divas where she powerbombed one of them as they were suplexing the other from the top rope. My first thought was, “That felt like a Cesaro spot,” which isn’t shocking, considering how closely she is working with him.
There’s no way to deny the sheer genius of Vince McMahon. We don’t agree with him on a lot of things, naturally, but the brutal truth we all have to face is that we are watching his product even when we don’t always like it. Yet, I find myself completely opposing McMahon when it comes to Cesaro. He claims he’s missing an “it” factor? I will argue that Cesaro has an “it” factor that we’ve never really seen before. The odds of him actually being a human and not a Terminator are like…like…low. He would compute the odds in a split second, being a mechanical monster sent from the future to eradicate Sarah Connor and whatnot makes him proficient at calculations.
The infamous “brass ring” comment from McMahon has a lot of people worked up, since he basically openly admitted that he doesn’t think Cesaro can do it. I’m one of those worked-up individuals because it’s almost like that interview doomed Cesaro to a career of making other guys look great while basically never really getting the spotlight he is so deserving of. He’s just another guy in the eyes of the one man who matters the most, but to me and many others, he’s something special that is being wasted.
On Raw we saw Cesaro take on Cena, as I mentioned, and the next day a flood of dirt sheets released the images of him “flipping off” the Champ. However, upon closer inspection (cuz I am Batman, after all) you’ll see that it was actually Cesaro flipping him the ring finger, a subtle nod to the McMahon “brass ring” comment thrown right in the face of the man who has infamously carried the proverbial jewelry for the better part of 15 years.
In an alternate universe, which, yes, I did indeed visit for a little while because I have an expertise in inter-dimensional relocation, Cesaro was the one who issued the US Title Open Challenge every week. In this dimension, the 15-20 minutes of time given to Cena is, instead, allotted to Cesaro. Do you know why that’s so great? I don’t even need to explain it. Cena, by all means, has carried the US Title and made it mean more than it probably ever has in WWE. That’s commendable. Yet, what if it had been Cesaro? What if Cesaro had those long matches week-in and week-out on our televisions? Can you imagine such a perfect existence? I think you cannot because Adam and Eve at that stupid apple and now Cesaro isn’t getting pushed, I have to wear clothes in public, and basically they ruined it for all of us. Theoretically, of course.
While I can only assume Cesaro is carved from diamonds, crafted from adamantium, or made of some sort of mimetic poly-alloy that allows him to look and move like an actual human, he’s still in the ring with actual humans who likely do have limits. Aside from his work with Cena on Monday and Kevin Owens two weeks ago, it’s worth your time to look up Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn at the first NXT event, his work with Jack Swagger in The Real Americans, his match with William Regal at NXT on Christmas of 2013, his match with Orton on the February 14, 2014 edition of Smackdown, his match with Daniel Bryan on July 22, 2013’s Raw, or a whole slew of other matches he’s just been added to on a whim.
In my eyes, Cesaro isn’t just the best wrestler in WWE, it’s possible that he’s the best wrestler in the world. Yes, you’ll build a Hell of a case with a little homework if you try hard enough, but it’s hard not to look at the body of work that the Swiss Superman has and at least put him in the running for that title. Does that mean he’s even better than Daniel Bryan? Well, to me…yes. I love Daniel Bryan, but Cesaro just has something that other guys don’t, even if it’s not the ability to make catchphrases that crowds get into.
Do you agree? You don’t have to. That’s fine. You can argue all you want. I won’t listen or acknowledge it, but you can give it hell. Still, you’re welcome to your invalid opinion in the comments below, as well as on my Twitter, @JakobDraper. Feel like being my real-life comrade? Well, find me on Facebook by searching my name, Jake Draper, and checking our mutual friends and seeing if John Canton is one of them. Odds are, you got the right guy.
I’ll see all of you (not literally, figuratively) for this week’s Smackdown review, which will include hefty amounts of snark and a whole heaping helping of logic shoved into an illogical form of entertainment. It’s a fun time for me, and that’s what’s important.