|Photo from Miami Herald - http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/24/2766361/experienced-cesaro-getting-his.html|
BackgroundBefore joining WWE, Cesaro competed under his real name, Claudio Castagnoli, in various promotions across America and Europe, but he is best known for his work in Ring of Honour as part of the 'Kings of Wrestling' tag team with Chris Hero (now Kassius Ohno, someone who will also feature in the series). The duo won the Ring of Honour World Tag Team championship twice, as well as earning the 'Tag Team of the Year' award from Wrestling Observer Newsletter in 2010 amongst their many other accomplishments, which include a grand total of six tag team championships across four different promotions and the longest reign as tag champions in Ring of Honour history (364 days).
Cesaro has also won titles as a singles wreslter, most notably the Pro Wrestling Guerilla World Championship, and placed 44th in the 'Pro Wrestling Illustrated 500' in 2011, but he remains best known for his tag team work, and many fans of indy wrestling hope to see a KoW reunion in WWE in the near future.
My TakeI have already discussed Cesaro in this article, and although many of my opinions remain the same, I do feel that, having seen more of his work in WWE & FCW, I underestimated his mic work slightly in that article. His promos of late have been very good, and he's been backing it up with excellent ring work, including a fantastic match against Tyson Kidd on Superstars. Even though I do think his promos are better than I initially gave him credit for, I still feel he lacks charisma, and that could be the thing that holds him back slightly. His promos have been good, but they're just missing that spark that makes you really interested in a performer.
His European style is (like former partner Ohno's) very different to most of the current WWE roster, as, despite being very technical, it is also based around a lot of powerful strikes and grappling (in a good, William Regal-esque way, not a Zeke/Khali way), with the standout move clearly being the 'Very European Uppercut', formerly known as the 'Swiss Death' - a devastating European uppercut delivered to an opponent who is in midair. Sadly though, it seems like that is merely being used as a setup for his actual finisher, the 'Gotch Style Neutralizer', which looks a lot weaker and less impressive. Nonetheless, his style helps him standout, which is always desirable in WWE, and he undoubtedly has the in-ring ability to work at or near the main event.
In terms of where he currently fits in, that's an area where I think I was pretty close to the mark in my inital assessment. In the article I linked to in the previous paragraph, I suggested that Cesaro would struggle to get out of the midcard if he debuted as a singles competitor (more because of the number of people ahead of him than his actual ability), but he has performed very well and already looks like a credible challenger to the Intercontinental title. Whether he'll get a shot at the belt is another question, considering he's competing with guys like Damien Sandow, Ryback, former champ Cody Rhodes and possibly even a returning Sin Cara, but he certainly merits consideration for a shot at the IC title because of his unusual & interesting style and ability to put on a good match. Cesaro, for me, currently sits at in a good position for someone who has only recently debuted, as a rising member of the midcard, but how much higher will he be able to climb?
Assuming there is no Kings of Wrestling reunion in the pipeline, I think that Antonio Cesaro will find himself as a solid upper-midcarder, competing for the Intercontinental and United States titles, and he may even occasionally find himself sniffing around the main event, but I don't believe he will ever become a true main event WWE superstar.
In a way, though, that's a good thing, because the midcard will benefit greatly from having such an accomplished wrestler in its midst - Cesaro's in-ring skill and ability to craft a match will make him invaluable when it comes to helping other talent break into contention for main event status, and he will help to bring back prestige to a couple of titles that have been devalued almost to the point of irrelevance in recent years. I can see him holding both the IC and US titles at least two or three times, and developing into a vital part of the upper-midcard, but let's be honest...we all want a Kings reunion somewhere down the line, don't we?
As previously mentioned, there is a similar series to this on YouTube, which inspired me to do my own version here, so if you wish to compare my opinions to those of someone else I encurage you to click on this link and listen to Eonizzle's 'FCW Superstar Spotlight' for Antonio Cesaro.
Part two of my series will look at Damien Sandow. It'll be up...somewhen.