One of the most underutilized superstars in WWE according to its fan base has been Cesaro. It’s been that way for quite some time, going all the way back to 2012 when Cesaro initially made his debut with the company. When the Stone Cold podcast debuted on the WWE Network (subscription required) Vince McMahon was Austin’s first-ever guest. Not long after the podcast started did Stone Cold bring up Cesaro to the chairman. Here was Vince’s feeling in December 2014 regarding the King of Swing.
“He’s not connecting yet, I hope he will. I mean he doesn’t quite have the charisma. He doesn’t quite have the verbal skills as well. It may be because he’s Swiss. I don’t know in terms of the European style. But those are the big things that he’s lacking. The audience needs to care about you. They need to be able to feel your presence. You need to be able to project that. Extraordinary, physical talent. Extraordinary. But at the moment, and hopefully he’ll get it, he lacks it.”
Many felt Vince McMahon was wrong. Cesaro may have not been able to express himself verbally at an elite level, but he was connecting through his in-ring abilities. The WWE Universe didn’t give up on him, and Cesaro didn’t either. Cesaro sat down with Michael Cole for Cole’s weekly interview on WWE at the time and admitted he got “white-knuckled” upon hearing Vince’s criticism. He vowed to prove his boss wrong and even told him, “Vince, challenge accepted.”
Cesaro would go on to capture the tag team titles alongside Tyson Kidd in a mini-push, but a push nonetheless. Kidd would suffer a career-threatening injury, derailing any momentum the duo had earned. Then Cesaro got hurt himself and disappointment fell over the WWE Universe again. Yes, he would go on to miss WrestleMania 32, but the theory of absence making the heart grow fonder began ringing true in Cesaro’s favor.
According to Daily Wrestling News, many WWE officials began campaigning for a Cesaro push upon his return from injury. And this time, Vince McMahon appears to have come around, understanding that the connections he gets are due to his unique and magnetic style. Cesaro returned to WWE on the Monday Night RAW the night after WrestleMania and was immediately inserted into the spotlight. He competed in the show’s main event, a fatal four way to determine the new number one contender to Roman Reigns’ WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Now, Cesaro finds himself mired in a feud with The Miz over the Intercontinental Championship. WWE Creative appears to be split on who should win the title at Payback, but if Cesaro stays healthy, this run could and should be much more meaningful. It’s not known whether The Miz’ IC title win over Zack Ryder was simply a means to transition the belt to Cesaro, but it did aid in vaulting The Miz back into relevance, especially since his real-life wife Maryse rejoined the company as her husband’s valet.
Incidentally, there’s also those in WWE who are urging Vince and others to push The Miz back into the top of the card, with this program being the catalyst for such a push. In fact, that’s been the case since the beginning of last year. So, whoever loses at Payback may be in line for bigger things despite not winning the Intercontinental Title.
Subtle additions to Cesaro’s entrance like the spotlighting, sunglasses, and tearaway suit are all part of his re-packaging which hearken back to his time on the independent circuit. And much like the Payback main event, the IC title match features an Indy darling in Cesaro vs a home-grown WWE product in The Miz. But for the long-standing supports occupying the Cesaro Section, brighter days are ahead.
[Image via WWE]