Superstar Breakdown: Cesaro
This entry of Superstar Breakdown will focus on one of the most beloved wrestlers to never get a world title shot in WWE, Cesaro. Many fans have longed for the day that Cesaro would, as the saying goes, ‘grab the brass rings’ and reach the top of the WWE roster.
While he has yet to do that, per se – he is still teaming with Sheamus – there is a lot of evidence that suggests that Cesaro is, in fact, being featured more prominently now than he ever has.
Of course, the big question on everyone’s minds is whether or not Cesaro will continue to grow as a performer going forward. Here, we’ll look at his strengths and weaknesses (minimal as they may be) to see if he actually could reach the highest echelon of the WWE.
It isn’t hard to see why WWE signed Cesaro in the first place: standing at 6’5 and weighing around 232lbs., Cesaro is a big man with an outstanding physique. If WWE were truly about body image alone, Cesaro would’ve been thrust into the main event picture long ago. He has that desired chiselled body that Vince McMahon adores, but it also comes with a twist.
Cesaro has described his physique as ‘100% natural’ on several times, and most people believe him. That makes him rare among wrestlers in that he managed to get an excellent look and be in outstanding shape without any HGH or steroids.
With pro wrestlers and other athletes being scrutinized constantly over allegations of substance abuse (see Jinder Mahal, Brock Lesnar, Lance Armstrong, among others), WWE is in need of more ‘natural’ athletes to counter-balance the surplus of wrestlers that, based on their physiques, clearly abuse drugs and other enhancement materials.
This is something that Cesaro could do, which would make him a better role model for fans that want to see someone succeed without having to take shortcuts.
Of course, Cesaro’s look is also complemented by actual natural strength. Many wrestlers have described Cesaro as being freakishly strong, as seen with his impressive spots. Over the past number of years, he has demonstrated John Cena-level super-strength.
Among his feats of strength include: Scoop slamming Big Show à la Hulk Hogan, performing both a Neutralizer and a giant Swing on the Great Khali, deadlift-Gutwrench Suplexing several wrestlers, and his deadlift over-the-top-rope Superplex.
These things have made him into an exceptionally popular athlete, which makes his current position even more perplexing.
There is only one aspect of Cesaro’s look/appearance that works against him: his entrance music. How a wrestler enters an arena plays a critical role in making the first impression with those that might not have seen him before.
And entering to the sign of an annoying ambulance siren accompanied by equally-annoying scratching sounds and generic rock music doesn’t do Cesaro any favours. In fact, he once said it himself: “my music sucks.” If he’s complaining about it, it must be bad.
Cesaro is what you’d get if you combined John Cena’s physique and strength with Kurt Angle’s grappling ability (and his bald head). Cesaro is one of the most dynamic and versatile wrestlers on the roster, capable of doing virtually anything and everything in a match. Cesaro’s athleticism and sense of timing are crisp and picture-perfect, as seen with his springboard corkscrew flying European uppercut.
No matter how many times he does that move, it will always look amazing. That’s because Cesaro executes the move so perfectly, and the combination of body movements needed to pull off such a manoeuvre look incredibly difficult, especially for a 230-pound man.
Cesaro also has an innate ability to transition between moves quickly, creating a sense of unpredictability in his matches. Even though Cesaro – like most WWE wrestlers – has his own signature moves and repetitive ‘superstar comeback’, he still shows more versatility on average than most of WWE’s wrestlers.
Over the years, we have seen Cesaro put on outstanding matches against a wide variety of opponents: against smaller and faster ones (vs. Sami Zayn at NXT TakeOver: Arrival), against wrestlers that match his size and strength (against John Cena in February 2014 and in June-July 2015) and against bigger opponents (in any match involving Cesaro and a super-heavyweight).
It takes an exceptional athlete to be able to not only show off dynamism against such a wide variety of opponents but to also make the crowd lose their minds at feats of super-strength, especially since those tend to get done way too often as a rule.
So for Cesaro to be able to do all of this makes him one of WWE’s biggest assets. Yet he’s still one of the most underused wrestlers on the roster. Why is that?
Promo Skills & Charisma
On one hand, Cesaro’s promo skills aren’t up to par with the expectation set by WWE’s power-brokers. For someone to be considered worthy of the main event scene, they must be capable of speaking well and being able to control the audience with their words as much as with their wrestling. Though Cesaro is more than capable of doing the latter (we’ll get to that shortly), the former is something of a challenge for him.
I’m not saying that Cesaro cannot speak or cut a promo well; watch his post-draft ‘shoot’ promo for proof of him being capable of speaking well. The supposed brass ring that Cesaro seemed to have not yet grasped was that which would enable him to cut a promo like John Cena, who has become an unofficial measuring stick for regular promos in WWE.
The company tried to hide this weakness of Cesaro’s by pairing him with Paul Heyman at one point. But for some reason, that pairing wasn’t accompanied by any high-profile wins or even consistent positive booking. It ended up being a waste of everyone’s time, as Cesaro was much better off not being seen as a second banana to the other Paul Heyman Guy, Brock Lesnar.
Of course, as a singles wrestler, Cesaro proved he has ample charisma, which comes out in his actions as opposed to his words. Just watch virtually any match he’s had in the past three years or so and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Cesaro’s raw power, dynamism in the ring, signature spots and pure athleticism make him simply fun to watch.
Whether he’s hitting multiple European uppercuts, hitting multiple revolutions with his Giant Swing, or locking in the Sharpshooter, Cesaro always gets an enormous reaction from the crowd. It seems that a lot of people simply like seeing a guy that can do different things in the ring, which translates into tons of fan signs and loud crowd noise.
Those are both important metrics for determining a wrestler’s popularity with the audience, so hopefully, WWE is still paying close attention to how the fans feel about Cesaro.
While I once discussed how Roman Reigns is often lambasted for being forced down fans’ throats and is being pushed to the top despite not doing enough to deserve such treatment, Cesaro is in many ways considered the opposite. Cesaro is the poster boy (poster man?) for someone that puts in so much effort into their everyday work yet doesn’t get the credit that most people think he’s due.
Not only is Cesaro widely considered a consummate professional by both fans and by his peers, but he’s also someone about whom no one ever says anything bad. Keep in mind, this is the pro wrestling business we’re talking about; the one that’s dominated by personal jealousy, politics, and egomania.
So for people to always say nice things of Cesaro and for him to be respected so deeply by his peers for his dedication and work ethic should be enough for the man to be thrust into the main event picture at some point in the future.
After all, how many other wrestlers would botch a catapult spot into the steel ring post and get their teeth pushed deeper into their gums and end up bleeding all over their faces and still continue the match as if nothing had happened? The answer is, very few.
Many people have voiced their support for Cesaro to be given a stronger push in the past. John Cena was reported to be one of Cesaro’s most vocal supporters in WWE’s current backstage environment, which is incredibly important given how much weight his opinion has at this time.
Moreover, three certified legends all made high-profile comments expressing support for Cesaro: Mick Foley, Ric Flair, and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. These three men are among the greatest legends of all time and have brought millions of dollars to WWE through their work over the years. As such, their opinions about someone like Cesaro should be taken more seriously, especially since they also have both his and WWE’s best interests in mind.
For years, Cesaro toiled away and was considered a good worker that never got his due. This was made very clear by both Steve Austin calling Vince McMahon out about this matter on his podcast and through Cesaro winning the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Most Underrated Wrestler award a record four years in a row.
It took Steve Austin calling Vince out for his ridiculous ‘it’s because he’s Swiss’ argument, countless inconsequential matches and a sea of fans showing ‘Cesaro Section’ fan signs for WWE to finally realize that despite his few flaws (especially around promos, which WWE seem to think are much bigger than they really are), Cesaro is popular with the audience and is respected by more people than they might’ve initially realized.
Cesaro proved this point with his excellent singles match against John Cena in July 2015, and has been relatively prominent on the RAW roster since. Oddly, though, it wasn’t in a singles competition that Cesaro found success, but in a tag team with, of all people, Sheamus.
Though the tag team now known as ‘The Bar’ started off slowly, the duo has since morphed into one of the most entertaining tag teams on RAW. Although they are booked as heels, it’s difficult for many fans to boo them with true gusto because Cesaro still has that much popularity.
As something of a payoff for his hard work and toughness (I can only imagine how painful it is to have your teeth jammed further up into your gums), it appears Cesaro will work a high-profile 6-man tag team opposite a now-reunited Shield. That in itself has the potential to be a big money match, which could be a sign of things to come for the Swiss Superman.
At 36, there’s still a chance for Cesaro to finally reach the very top of WWE. He’s one of their most dynamic wrestlers, he has a vocal fanbase that supports him no matter what, and he’s respected by most if not all of his peers.
It seems that the only thing that really stands in his way right now is the indecisiveness and unpredictability of one man that wields the final say in all creative matters in WWE, Vince McMahon. Who knows, maybe one day Vince will finally cave in and give Cesaro a chance with the title.
Based on his assets and positive attributes, I for one think that day will be one on which Vince McMahon will make a lot of money.