The last few weeks have been pretty excellent for the career of the former Antonio Cesaro. For a while he has been considered one of the “internet darlings,” but apparently he has evolved past that label and is now considered one of a handful of talents currently in WWE that management is finally starting to see a bright future for.
The news came out last week that WWE decided to drop the first name of “Antonio” and from this point forward will be referring to him as simply “Cesaro.” Make of that decision what you will, but the fact that they care about him enough that they felt the need to change his name proves that he’s at least somebody that matters to WWE management.
A quick side note, for those who didn’t hear, the reason WWE dropped his first name was due to Vince McMahon’s belief that the name “Antonio” sounds like the name of a guy who isn’t tough.
Anyone ever heard of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira or Antonio Rogerio Nogueira? How about Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva? Antonio Tarver? Antonio Margarito? I could go on …but I won’t. Whatever.
The fact remains, WWE is finally seeing dollar signs when they look at the former Claudio Castagnoli. He had an awesome match against John Cena at RAW this past Monday night, and although I didn’t see it yet, apparently had perhaps an even better match against Randy Orton on SmackDown last Friday night. Making believers out of the top two guys in the company isn’t the worst thing in the world, as it certainly helps knowing guys like Cena and Orton will want to work with you because they know they’ll have an excellent, crowd-pleasing match. After the Cena match on Monday, Cesaro reportedly received a standing ovation from the guys as soon as he passed through the curtain backstage.
So to recap: management is starting to dig Cesaro, the top guys in the company have been won over by him (how many times have we heard Cena sing his praises in promos and at live events?) and he has the respect of pretty much everyone in the company for being a good worker with incredible natural strength. So, what does that leave?
Go back and watch last week’s RAW from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which is considered by WWE to be the Madison Square Garden of the west coast. The fans were as hot for Cesaro as they were for anyone else on the show, save maybe Daniel Bryan. It’s a pretty well-known fact that if you’re over with the fans in the major markets, Vince-and-company will start to take notice.
While I don’t expect Cesaro to win the Elimination Chamber match this Sunday, the fact that WWE put him in the match means he’s at least a talent that they recognize as having a bright upside. Then again, Christian is in the Chamber and lately he’s pretty much been reduced to comedic fodder for Vince McMahon to filter through JBL on commentary. So maybe that isn’t such a big deal. Then again, main eventing one of the bigger B-level pay-per-views can’t really be a bad thing, especially if you’re as talented in the ring as Cesaro is. He lost against Cena on Monday night, and even in losing, he arguably boosted his stock. Put him on a bigger stage like a pay-per-view main event, and I’m sure he’ll come up with something to have people talking about him when they’re going to their cars after the show.
NXT: “Arrival” is coming up, which is one of the first big, live specials that will take place on the new WWE Network. It’s pretty much a given that Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn will be attempting to steal the show with the rematch of their classic two-out-of-three falls match from last year. So he’s about to shine on another big stage.
One would think all of this stuff has to add up and force management, who is starting to turn the corner on viewing him as a potential star already, to take notice.
The only real negative I can see for Cesaro is his promo skills. Unfortunately for him, that’s a pretty big one. There’s always an easy fix for guys like that — he goes by the name of Paul Heyman. Hell, Zeb Colter isn’t too shabby in that role either, but unfortunately that Real Americans act has started to get stuck with a mid-card perception from fans. The gimmick itself doesn’t have a ton of main event potential, unless we jump in a time machine and go back to the 1980s, where they would be perfect foes for the “All American” Hulk Hogan.
One thing is for sure, Cesaro has a ton of potential, and I for one am pretty happy to hear that management is finally jumping on the bandwagon. I’d be a liar if I said I was totally confident that they’ll give him a legitimate shove, but the mere fact that they’ve changed their position from “he’s not money,” a label stuck on him by Vince McMahon about a year ago, is good enough for now. If they give him a fair chance, and simply give him opportunities to sink-or-swim based on his talent and abilities, I’m pretty confident that ole’ Antonio …I mean, Cesaro, has a pretty bright future ahead of him.
What do you guys see in Cesaro’s future? Glance at your crystal balls and share the findings in our “Comments” section below. Additionally, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if you added me as a friend on Facebook, which you can do by heading over to Facebook.com/MattBooneWZR.