On the surface he is the model WWE wrestler. He’s tall, muscular and takes his training seriously. He is capable of phenomenal feats of strength. He’s a capable promo and can speak five different languages, a combination that makes him ideal for media appearances in foreign countries. And, of course, he can turn out cracking matches against opponents of all shapes and sizes. This year alone he’s given us great bouts opposite Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus and John Cena.
Think back to the first half of this year. Cesaro entered a number of sterling performances as half of The Real Americans, caused the crowd to explode when he last eliminated Big Show to win the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania, took on Paul Heyman as his agent, and then became a pseudo-face in a three-way rivalry with Jack Swagger and Rob Van Dam. After that he was entered into the ladder match for the vacant WWE championship at Money in the Bank, a match otherwise populated by former champions and men clearly earmarked for great things. He was even using the Big Swing and getting audiences to react to it. Things were going well for Cesaro.
But around Money in the Bank things faltered. Since then WWE has seemingly become reluctant to use him in a prominent role. This goes beyond punishing him for speaking out about the abundance of Cena versus Orton matches. The treatment has been going on too long for that to be a suitable explanation.
|This guy could be a goldmine! Geddit? Because he's Swiss...|
It looks to me as though WWE doesn’t know what to do with ‘The King of Swing’. This is hard to understand because, as already stated, he possesses all the qualities required to become a headline fixture for the group. He would clearly work well as either a top line heel or a top line villain. If that’s shooting too high, and knowing WWE’s track record over the last several years with regard to elevating talent it might be, then he would be an excellent choice for a prominent upper mid-card role.
The second half of the year has seen him drifting aimlessly. He was dumped into a battle royal at the Battleground pay-per-view, with nothing about the booking designed to call back to his winning performance at ‘Mania. From there he was dropped into a pre-show at SummerSlam opposite RVD and split from Heyman despite their partnership still having bundles of potential and not having actually resulted in Cesaro’s standing being raised. Since then he’s been on the losing end of title feuds opposite Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler.
To me the sudden change looks like admission that they do not know what to do with Cesaro. So does the number of entrance gear looks he’s spun through this year1. They can’t settle on whether they want Cesaro to be loved or loathed or what role they want him to play.
Despite this fumbled use ‘The Swiss Superman’ remains popular. And it’s not just “internet smart fans” who are keen on him. His reactions in arenas are routinely strong, indicating that the majority of the ticket buying public (of whom “internet smart fans” are a minority) see something in the guy. He has what is regularly referred to as the X factor, that indefinable quality that sets a wrestler apart from his peers. Something in the way Cesaro carries himself or the way he looks so assured in the ring speaks to people and they respond to his performances.
On the plus side this kind of support rarely peters out. WWE can mismanage Cesaro pretty much indefinitely before they finally get it right with him. But, y’know, it would still be preferable to use him correctly sooner rather than later.
1 There was the sparkly black number he’d seemingly borrowed from Chris Jericho. Then there was the Bond villain-esque white jacket with the adapted mid-90s King of the Ring logo on the back. And there’s the current long robe with head towel look which makes him look like a cross between Taz and Rick Rude. There have been others, these are just the ones that stand out.