WWE: Cesaroing The Moment by Marc Madison

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, its Superman..the Swiss Superman, Cesaro. On the evening after Wrestlemania, Cesaro returned to competition as part of the four way match to determine the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight championship. Cesaro’s return reminded fans what they’ve been missing for such a long time. If there was ever something that stood out about Cesaro, it is his no nonsense style and his ability to convince the audience, and regularly display what has made him one of the most underrated workers in wrestling today. However, despite fans knowing what he’s capable of and how talented he is, Cesaro is equally known for being on the receiving end of bad booking and failed pushes. While some may want to say he’s guilty of squandering his pushes, the counter argument to that would be that he wasn’t given ample time to see his character develop. It would be fair to say that each time Cesaro was on the cusp of breaking through, something happened and there isn’t any clear reason why that had to happen.

During one of Steve Austin’s Stone Cold Podcasts, he had as his guest WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, and a question about Cesaro’s usage was posed. McMahon responded that he thought Cesaro didn’t ‘connect.’ This was a dubious opinion; fans are convinced by his strength and moveset, and there isn’t anything that Cesaro does in the ring that isn’t believable. He is deceptively strong, versatile, and he works hard; it isn’t hard to warm too Cesaro. When he first came into the company, very little was made of him because he was primarily competing on Smackdown and had Aksana as his manager. So it was fair to not think much of him or what he was capable of. Of course that just applies to the common WWE fan who wasn’t familiar with Cesaro’s backstory. Fans of wrestling all over the world know all about Claudio Castagnoli, one half of the Kings of Wrestling and former Ring of Honor tag team champion.

It took time and patience, but the WWE Universe began to see what the rest of the world was already talking about. When he was the United States Champion, very little was done with Cesaro, despite the title. Vince McMahon ‘s speculated that Cesaro’s inability to ‘connect’ could be attributed to his being of European descent. It wasn’t really fair to do that, as we live in multicultural countries where we all come from different backgrounds, so making him a heel because he’s European is dated booking on Vince’s part.

As time passed, he was eventually booked as part of The Real Americans with Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter. It worked because Vince must have realized that immigration is what America is built on, so why couldn’t Cesaro be on that team. While working alongside Swagger and Colter, there were solid tag team matches and promos delivered by the group. It didn’t matter who was in the ring with them, Colter would handle the promos and convince fans to dislike them, while at the same time Swagger and Cesaro had the freedom to simply impose their will and carry on the gimmick. As time passed, however, fans gravitated to Cesaro because of his moveset and his feats of strength. Most will recall the fan demand have him split from Swagger and go on his own.

What exactly did that mean? Cesaro worked as a heel before, and was given the opportunity to deliver promos in various languages, and fans were convinced he was a heel because it. The problem in the eyes of creative, and likely even Vince to an extent, was that fans would cool on him because he had an accent. So rather than have him attempt to get over on his own, the night after Wrestlemania 30, where Cesaro captured the first ever Andre the Giant Battle Royal, he split from Colter and was aligned with Paul Heyman. The criticism here has little to do with the pairing of Heyman and Cesaro, but rather that it reflects the promotion’s belief that he couldn’t get over on his own. It did make sense because it gave Heyman an onscreen role while Brock Lesnar’s time was away since he had so few booking dates. However, the relationship with Heyman didn’t last and was quickly cut short, with no real reason given for the split. After that, Cesaro was in limbo for some time. He continued to be him, and everything he did on screen was getting him over. He carried himself more like a face than a heel, but it was a more organic turn.

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Fans knew that Cesaro was something special so they weren’t going to jeer him, and the company needed to use him in some way, shape, or form. This was when the tag team alliance with Tyson Kidd took place. Kidd and Cesaro worked so well with one another; they were a perfect combination of finesse, speed and technical skill, and appeared to have the creative freedom to be themselves and have fun. And while having fun, in the process they were achieving a great deal of success. That success was parlayed into multiple tag team championships. Despite their early efforts to get jeered as heels, fans came around to them and the eventual face turn came about. However, just as quickly as things were turning in their favour and success was coming their way, it was quickly dashed. In a one-on-one contest between Tyson Kidd and Samoa Joe, Kidd suffered a major neck injury. In the process, the tag team came to an end. Cesaro wasn’t one to neglect his relationship with Kidd and in fact continued to allude to Kidd each time he competed afterward.

Creative knew that Cesaro was gaining more and more popularity with or without Kidd, and continued to push him. Once again he was used in singles competition, and it seemed things were all working out well for him; then injury struck. The momentum he was building was cut short by a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder. It has been reported that Cesaro competed with the injured shoulder for a couple of months before it was diagnosed. It says a lot about Cesaro that he was able to persevere and was willing to sacrifice his long-term health to achieve success. And can we honestly blame Cesaro for continuing to work hurt, considering how his push has come and gone throughout his time with the company? And even as time passed and he worked to return to action full-time, the fans didn’t forget Cesaro. What does that say about him, and everything he’s been able to achieve, and how he’s been able to connect with the fan base? His recent return was very well received.

Upon his return it seems as though the promotion is using him in a way that is both convincing and reflective of his character. My wife has made mention of how Cesaro happens to look good in a suit. He wears it well and when he tears it off to show that he is ready to compete that also says the company knows it. And if they are going to call him the Swiss Superman, then why not play up to it? There appears to be more of a conscious effort to make the character fit the wrestler. It is often been said that the most effective characters are ones that are an extension of the actual performer.

That isn’t to suggest that he could lifts cars or has x-ray vision, but he is deceptively strong and fans enjoy watching it. One of the most notable things that stood out about him recently was that, while walking to the ring wearing his tear away suit, the background graphic resembled something from a James Bond film. His character has a suave and mild-mannered quality about him. However, when the suit comes off that is when he is ready to deliver.

A week after competing in the number one contender match, Cesaro was a surprise opponent for Kevin Owens, with the winner slated to face The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. The opportunity to compete for the Intercontinental title has been a long time coming. When Kevin Owens held the title, and Daniel Bryan before that, the belief was that the title wouldn’t be passed around and that someone could hold the title and defend it prominently. That opportunity exists for Cesaro now as he faces The Miz at Payback. While it resembles Wade Barrett regaining the title after he returned from injury, it was something fans wanted. This chance is a refreshing change.

For all the time he has been with the company and devoted his time to simply being himself and never swaying away from doing that, how can that not be rewarded? He is liked by the fans. He is respected by his peers, and most importantly he appears to now have an opportunity with sound character development and booking behind him. It is hard to believe that he won’t walk away the champion at Payback because of his early impact upon his return and the response he’s received from the fans. What we can safely say is that he is fully seizing the moment the only way he can, by remaining true to himself.

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