Antonio Cesaro is ready to make his move to the WWE uppercard, but there seems to be one glaring obstacle in his way.
He wears it around his waist.
As long as Cesaro holds the United States Championship belt, he will never jump from the midcard. So if the WWE Creative Team was smart, they would create a match for him at TLC 2012 and have him ditch the belt.
Then, and only then, can Cesaro focus on carving his path to the WWE uppercard.
You could say he started carving that path when he beat Santino Marella for the U.S. belt in the SummerSlam pre-show last August. He sharpened that path-cutting tool with a sparkling performance on Raw last Monday night against Sheamus.
Even though he lost to the Celtic Warrior, it was not by pinfall or submission. If you are looking to get to the top, submitting or being pinned by a top-tier talent is like an express train back to the midcard.
Just ask Tensai.
Cesaro was counted out after being hit with a Brogue Kick by the Celtic Warrior, but the countout followed a match in which Cesaro often had the upper hand on Sheamus.
It’s still a loss, but it is not a clean loss.
It shows that Cesaro is developing the chops to give the top talent a solid program. Sheamus actually put Cesaro over even more by winning the match on the countout.
Cesaro has an arsenal of weapons that are worthy of the uppercard.
In addition to his brute strength, he has a pretty impressive finishing move in the Neutralizer, a combination of a Piledriver and a Pedigree. He has used that move to finish off many opponents on the midcard, particularly big, beefy Brodus Clay.
But Cesaro has added some other moves to compliment the Neutralizer, including one that is a mix of a Torture Rack and a body slam.
He also has a lethal-looking European uppercut that he uses to ground an airborne opponent.
Monday night, he hit Sheamus with both of those moves and almost got a pin. He tried to hit the Neutralizer, but Sheamus was able to backdrop his way out of it, before sending Cesaro out of the ring with the Brogue Kick.
Cesaro is a solid midcard heel. His smugness and apparent disdain for anything American has generated major heat among the WWE Universe.
Outside of Wade Barrett, there is a shortage of true heat-seeking heels in singles competition at the midcard level. WWE may be a little hesitant to push Cesaro until other heel characters are developed.
Cesaro needs to be given consistent opportunities to prove that he can run with WWE’s major stars.
Perhaps booking him on future shows with other talent such as Randy Orton or John Cena could back up any argument that Cesaro is ready for prime time.
Mind you, Cesaro is definitely not ready to main-event WrestleMania or even a second-tier pay-per-view event yet.
He certainly is not ready for a long-term program with any one superstar.
And with the top two singles championships currently being held by fellow heels CM Punk and the Big Show, he obviously will not factor into those title pictures yet.
The development of the three-man Shield as a top-level heel faction means that it is getting crowded at the top for villains. Cesaro is going to have to come up with an angle to distinguish himself from the rest of the varmints.
Cesaro has put himself in a position where the WWE needs to consider moving him higher on its TV shows or a pay-per-view lineup than where he currently resides.
All he needs are some solid runs at PPVs like Royal Rumble or Money in the Bank to rise up the card.
Think about it in baseball terms. The midcard is the minor league and the uppercard is the major league, also known as “The Show.” Players with huge star potential and a knack for the game dream of getting to The Show.
Cesaro certainly has the star potential.
He is swinging a mean bat and the crowd definitely knows who he is. He is ready for The Show.
First things first, though. He has to drop that pesky U.S. belt.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.