WWE: The Top 5 Contenders for Antonio Cesaro's US Title

Bryan Haas@@thehaastileoneFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2012

WWE: The Top 5 Contenders for Antonio Cesaro's US Title

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    The WWE Universe has been scratching its head as of late, wondering where exactly the new United States champion Antonio Cesaro has disappeared to.

    Since defeating Santino Marella for the title nearly two weeks ago, Cesaro has been a virtual ghost on WWE programming, possibly as the company decides exactly where to take his character and with whom he will have his first feud as champion.

    This prospective opponent will have a difficult task ahead of them. While most fans can agree that Cesaro's in-ring work is innovative and brutal, at times his character seems to be a bit boring. The introduction of Aksana as his valet was meant to aid this issue, but it may be doing more harm than good.

    Prior to his WWE run, Cesaro made a name for himself on the independent wrestling scene by letting his wrestling do the talking and making his character a secondary feature.

    However, now that he has the belt—and in turn a share of the spotlight—is it time for the Swiss superstar to ramp up the charisma?

    Is this run meant to make him better and launch his mainstream wrestling career? Is it just a temporary solution until the company can decide which other superstar might be more deserving of the title?

    Either way, the all important issue is who Cesaro will compete against going forward, as there are many hungry and deserving superstars that would be champing at the bit for the opportunity.

Santino Marella

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    True, he is somewhat of a joke. However, until recently, he was the reigning U.S. champion. In addition, he has also held the Intercontinental title twice, as well as the WWE tag titles (with Vladimir Kozlov).

    While “the Cobra” may be one of the strangest finishing maneuvers in the business, Santino has the ability to kick into high gear at any time. Let us not forget that he came within an inch of winning the Elimination Chamber match in February, but was the last man eliminated by Daniel Bryan.

    Silly sock-like puppet on his hand or not, for some reason Santino never seems to be too far from the title picture. Could it be just a matter of time before this crowd favorite takes a stand and reclaims his prized title?

Zack Ryder

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    Where is Zack Ryder every week?

    Buying hair gel? Fist pumping with celebrities? Filming the vignettes that launched him to WWE stardom and laid the groundwork for his own United States title reign late last year?

    Plainly put, the WWE Universe wants Zack Ryder. Due to his lack of television time lately, they're truly beginning to miss him.

    The company is missing a huge opportunity by not placing him on one of it's shows on a weekly basis.

    Wrestling fans want to see Ryder. The crowd reaction when he walks the aisle is among the loudest of the night on a consistent basis. Why not place him in a program with Cesaro, a budding superstar that could use the cocky, Long Islander's attitude as a jumping-off point for his contempt?

    Imagine Ryder's putdowns of the U.S. champ on a weekly basis. Picture him calling Aksana a "hoe-ski."

    As an added bonus, Ryder's in-ring work is incredibly solid and he and Cesaro could play off each other incredibly well.

    Ryder has been there before, why can't he do it again and begin the Ryder Revolution?

Ted DiBiase

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    Since his WWE debut in 2008, huge things have been expected of DiBiase, and he didn't disappoint early on.

    DiBiase formed a team with Cody Rhodes to win the WWE tag titles in his first ever match on the main roster.

    From there, he and Rhodes formed a union with Randy Orton and billed themselves as Legacy, a group hellbent on cashing in on their famous names and making everyone pay attention.

    However, since the group disbanded, injuries and sub-par storylines have plagued DiBiase.

    He is now returning from ankle and shoulder injuries, and it seems like it's time for something big to happen. A program with Cesaro, a proven worker and innovative technician, might be just the thing to inject some life back into DiBiase's career.

    The time may have finally come for the company to put DiBiase on the front line and let him reach his full potential.

Wade Barrett

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    For weeks now, the company has been hyping the return of Wade Barrett, who looks to make an immediate impact upon re-debuting.

    Since winning the first season of NXT, big things have been expected of Barrett. He has headed both the Nexus and the Corre, he has won the Intercontinental title and he has been involved in some huge matches with John Cena and Randy Orton. Having said that, he has yet to really carve out a permanent place for himself as a bonafide superstar.

    Upon his return, it stands to reason that he will receive the planned push that was intended for him before an elbow injury sidelined him back in February.

    What better way to do that than by putting him in a program with a fellow European? Cesaro is capable of matching him in terms of size, strength and brawling ability.

Randy Orton

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    It would be very easy to make a joke about the WWE's "Apex Predator" wanting to chow down on some Swiss cheese or Swiss chocolate. However, since his return from suspension, the reality of the situation is that Orton has seemingly been a man without a purpose.

    Of all the superstars on this list, the most intriguing option seems to be Orton. The bouts between the two would be hard-hitting, enthralling and a fantastic jumping-off point for Cesaro's career. It would also give Orton's a much needed shot in the arm.

    As a nine-time world champion, Orton is far from an undecorated superstar. He has been near the top of the ladder for the vast majority of his time with the company, but since losing the world heavyweight title to Mark Henry a year ago, Orton has failed to win any coveted prize.

    Gunning for Cesaro's U.S. title would be just the step that he needs to make it back to the stratosphere of the WWE Universe.

Is This Decision Make or Break?

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    Before winning the United States title, many speculated that Cesaro's position in the company was somewhat shaky.

    As mentioned, his ringwork is excellent, but at times his character seems slightly bland. In a company filled with larger-than-life personalities, Cesaro's seems to be lacking.

    A feud with Marella or Ryder might be able to help him get over, as his reaction to their childish antics would likely be entertaining.

    A program with Orton or Barrett would likely provide a hard-hitting war, one that might leave fans salivating for more.

    DiBiase is the wild card, but in terms of attempting to build a big push, both he and Cesaro could greatly benefit from feuding with each other. They are both attempting to establish a foothold in the company at this point.

    Whoever the company chooses to be Cesaro's first real opponent, it will need to be someone that he has good chemistry with. It is imperative at this point that management looks as if they are behind him, and prove that throwing their support behind him was not a mistake.