What's the story?
In case you didn't know...
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has 37 different awards that its readers/listeners vote on at the end of each calendar year. One of these is the ‘award’ for ‘most underrated wrestler’. This distinction goes to the wrestler who puts in such a considerable amount of effort into their work on a regular basis but doesn’t get the recognition many people think they deserve.
In a way, you could describe this as ‘the unappreciated worker’s award’ because previous winners of this distinction were some of the hardest workers active during the years they won the award but weren’t compensated accordingly for their work. This is in stark contrast to the award for ‘Most Overrated Wrestler’, which went to the wrestled believed to have put in the least amount of work to get the top spot in their respective promotion.
Past winners include: Chris Jericho in both 1999 and 2000; Booker T in 2002; Shelton Benjamin (who won the award three years in a row between 2005 and 2007) and Dolph Ziggler in 2011. With this year’s decision, Cesaro becomes the first person to win the award four years in a row, having received the award every year since 2013.
The heart of the matter
Unlike some other awards, Cesaro wasn’t a runaway leader for ‘most underrated’ wrestler. According to cagesideseats.com, there was actually a fair bit of competition for the top three spots:
1. CESARO (217) 1,571
2. Neville (124) 1,106
3. Sami Zayn (108) 865
4. Luke Harper (42) 532
5. Donovan Dijak (49) 448
6. Rusev (32) 247
7. Tomohiro Ishii (9) 190
8. Dalton Castle (14) 176
9. Chris Hero (18) 144
10. Mark Andrews (12) 139
As you can see, the wrestlers that hold the top four spots are all WWE wrestlers. What’s more, many of them have been employed in WWE for some time, but they’ve been vastly underused or have not been given proper recognition for their efforts.
Neville’s arguably the biggest-drawing cruiserweight in WWE but wasn’t inserted into the division until the tail end of the year. Before that, he spent most of his time wrestling in nothing pre-show matches, which was a huge waste of his talents.
Sami Zayn was on fire during the first half of 2016, but once his main roster feud with Kevin Owens came to an end, Zayn was essentially forgotten. He wasn’t on the SummerSlam card, and was, in his own words, ‘directionless’ all throughout the fall.
There have been attempts to give him a meaningful storyline through a rivalry of sorts with GM Mick Foley, but that too has been a waste of his talents. Clearly, he’d be better off on SmackDown, where his talents would stand out more.
Finally, Luke Harper has been the workhorse of the Wyatt Family ever since they first debuted. He’s an excellent, well-rounded wrestler that has gotten great reactions whenever he’s been wrestling. Unfortunately, his 2016 was uneventful, and even though he’s been a great worker, he has spent more time losing than winning.
Cesaro’s short-term future is uncertain. He’s currently stuck in a tag team alongside Sheamus, with whom he won the WWE RAW Tag Team Championships at Roadblock: End of the line, only to lose them just over a month later. His most recent storylines have suggested a feud with new champs Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows, but there’s no certainty that it will lead to a marquee spot on the WrestleMania card in a month.
While Cesaro is indeed underrated in terms of booking, he didn’t deserve this award for 2016. On the contrary, he actually enjoyed consistent booking throughout 2016 and was part of the team that dethroned the New Day, ending their historic reign after 483 days.
The issue here seems to be that Cesaro is a main-event calibre star stuck in a mid-card storyline. He has proven time and again that he has the look and the technical abilities of a top-tier WWE superstar. He has managed to elicit a huge reaction from the audience with whatever he does, and he’s even managed to make the commentators cheer in approval over his in-ring antics.
Unfortunately for Cesaro, unless he can convince Vince McMahon that he deserves that main event spot, he’s likely to remain in mid-card purgatory. And given that Vince isn’t likely to change his tune on Cesaro anytime soon, Cesaro’s current position is likely to stay the same for quite some time.
send us news tips at firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished 03 Mar 2017, 20:47 IST