The 26th annual Survivor Series has come and gone, and everyone will be discussing the fallout of the three mega-hyped main events. But a lot more went on at Survivor Series than the two controversial world title matches and Team Foley vs. Team Ziggler.
Although his match was quick and drama-free, Antonio Cesaro made quite a statement with his decisive victory over R-Truth.
WWE has a tendency to push new superstars in exactly the right way initially, only to job him out and blow all of the work they put into him. Take a look at what I assume were the "captains" of the opening match for this pay-per-view.
Brodus Clay and Tensai both received huge pushes as unstoppable monsters when they returned to WWE programming. Clay had an extended undefeated streak. Tensai pinned John Cena.
And now? They are the first two guys eliminated from a Survivor Series match that opened the show and included lower-rung superstars like Epico and Primo.
Antonio Cesaro has yet to suffer this recurring WWE creative curse. His match at Survivor Series was booked perfectly. Cesaro dominated most of the match that last just under seven minutes. Truth got in some offense, but it paled in comparison to Cesaro's repertoire for this match.
Making the whole thing even better was Cesaro's ability to do all of this without making Truth look bad. When you can be both as solid and as brutal as Antonio Cesaro, but still make your opponent seem legitimate even after you pin them cleanly, you have a rare gift.
With a clean title match victory over R-Truth on a major pay-per-view, where does Cesaro's path go from here?
[Note: a significant portion of what remains is essentially fantasy booking. I'm just presenting a case for how I feel Cesaro should be booked as the US Champion.]
I'm glad that they got a love-interest angle out of the way from the get-go. As much as I love to see Aksana on television and as well as she seemed to fit with Cesaro, I think a relationship with the Lithuanian beauty would be holding him back now. He's an impressive US Champion and all of the credit goes to him—the glory is not shared with a valet or manager.
If they continue to book it properly, I think Cesaro can continue to ride his anti-American US Champion gimmick for quite some time.
If you've ever watched any sort of WrestleMania comprehensive history, you will likely hear about the emotional intensity that fueled Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter in the main event of WrestleMania 7. The heat was built based on an angle that isn't so different from Cesaro's gimmick.
If you recall, Slaughter had turned his back on America, playing the part of an Iraqi sympathizer in the midst of the Gulf War. The one match that served as the culmination of an entire year of WWF programming was based on a champion with strong anti-American sentiment against a challenger defending the red, white and blue.
I think Cesaro's US Title reign could take a similar path. But before we get to WrestleMania, we have three more pay-per-views to book. First up: Tables, Ladders and Chairs.
TLC is the type of pay-per-view that will give Cesaro a chance to further establish his tough-guy persona, and I think a Ladder Match for the US Title Match could steal the show. Who would I put him up against? Christian.
How long should Cesaro hold the US Title?
And William Regal.
It would be an easy set-up. On this week's SmackDown, Cesaro can give another promo in which he tears down the United States, saying that he's tired of even giving Americans a chance. At this point, he's interrupted by William Regal.
Regal says that although he's English, he doesn't approve of Cesaro as champion or of his attitude as champion. On behalf of the States, Regal challenges Cesaro to a title match at the December PPV. After Cesaro accepts, Christian's music hits.
Edge 2.0 expresses similar sentiment as Regal and says that he also wants to be a part of the match, and suggests his own specialty: ladders. The match is set, and at TLC, Cesaro successfully defends in a Triple Threat Ladder Match against Christian and Regal.
As we enter the year 2013, Cesaro's opposition becomes more challenging. We hook him up with someone currently in WWE creative's favor, The Miz.
The Miz can put on a really entertaining match, especially with someone the likes of Cesaro, and his mic skills would challenge Cesaro in a way he hasn't been challenged since performing for Vince's company.
At the Royal Rumble, Cesaro successfully defends against The Miz in a US Title match, although the ending is questionable at best. Post-match, Cesaro continues to abuse The Miz until he's pulled off by several officials.
In the Royal Rumble match, Cesaro is an early entry. After a solid performance, eliminating a few different superstars, The Miz enters. In the same way we've seen the Royal Rumble match used to further a feud before, The Miz heads straight for Cesaro, eliminating the US Champ and himself in the process.
The heat remains between Cesaro and Miz after the Royal Rumble as the Elimination Chamber qualifying matches are played out over Raw and SmackDown. Since the WWE brand rosters are irrelevant these days, they both qualify for the same Chamber match.
Of the six men in their chamber, Miz and Cesaro are part of the final four competitors. To put an end to their feud without making anyone look especially weak, Miz eliminates Cesaro (or vice versa) only to be eliminated next by the superstar that will eventually win the match.
Finally, we are ready for WrestleMania. If Cesaro can hold the belt until April, a successful defense would make his US Title reign the sixth longest of all time, the second longest since it was a WWE belt.
To build some of the same patriotic emotion for Cesaro's match at WrestleMania, he puts the anti-American shtick into overdrive. At WrestleMania, he faces off against a newly repacked All-American American, Jack Swagger. Finally receiving another solid push, most fans assume Swagger will finally put Cesaro in his place.
As the cherry on top of the sundae that is his brilliant title reign, Cesaro gets a solid victory in an impressive match at WrestleMania 29. He holds the strap until Extreme Rules, at which Swagger gets his revenge by winning the championship in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
From there, Cesaro sets his sights on the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship, having one of the most impressive US Title reigns of all time on his resume.
On a pay-per-view that was booked as impressively and intelligently as anything else WWE has done lately, Cesaro's match was no exception. If they continue to book Cesaro this well, his match in Indianapolis will be one small part of an outstanding stint as the United States Champion.