Antonio Cesaro hit the 100-day mark of his United States Championship reign earlier this week, and there are no signs of his run with the title ending anytime soon.
After a span of a few less-than-stellar titleholders (Zack Ryder, Jack Swagger and Santino Marella), the WWE is clearly trying to restore some prestige to the United States Championship and make it more than just a prop.
The company is doing that by keeping the belt on Cesaro, who, as a foreign-born heel Superstar, is a fantastic choice for a title with a name that implies that it should only be held by American Superstars. Cesaro has thrived in a major way in his role as the Anti-American foreigner and figures to hold onto the United States Championship well into 2013.
But we all know that he’s not going to hold the title forever, which has some already speculating what might happen in his post-US title days.
Well, it seems to be very clear that Cesaro is not going to get lost in the shuffle once he loses the strap. If anything, he figures to be an even bigger star going forward.
While Cesaro hasn’t gotten quite the push that fellow newcomer Ryback has gotten over the past eight months, he’s quickly rising up the ranks of the WWE and looking awfully impressive while doing so.
He hasn’t had a boatload of opportunities to steal the show with 15- or 20-minute matches, but he’s delivered great performances in the few long matches he has had, such as his bout with Sheamus on this week’s Raw.
In much the same mold as guys like Sheamus and Wade Barrett, Cesaro has proven to be one of the most brutal and physical superstars on the WWE roster. Everything he does looks “real,” and it undoubtedly makes him stand out from the rest of the pick.
His gutwrench suplex, his strikes, his devastating European uppercut—you name a move Cesaro regularly uses, and he probably makes it look better than 99 percent of the other wrestlers who do it.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why, according to PWInsider.com (via WrestlingInc.com), WWE officials are “very high” on the man formerly known as Claudio Castagnoli. In fact, he’s reportedly viewed as someone “they will make a lot of money off,” which, of course, is a great compliment for someone who hasn’t even been on the main roster for a year now.
It’s also a pretty good indication that Cesaro’s current United States title reign is the start of something much, much bigger that will come down the road.
That something bigger? A slow but steady elevation to main-event status.
In the recent past, we’ve seen plenty of up-and-coming stars rise to the top of the WWE incredibly quickly and have varying degrees of success once they got there. Sheamus won the WWE title long before he was ready, Alberto Del Rio started getting stale not long after winning his first title and the jury is still out on what will happen to Ryback.
In Cesaro’s case, however, the WWE seems to be letting things happen more naturally for him. Rather than shoving him down our throats, the company is letting his great in-ring work and heel persona be what catapults him to the top of the WWE.
I think that’s the best route to take with Cesaro (and any rising star for that matter) because when you have a guy with such a tremendous amount of talent, you absolutely do not want to ruin, delay or stifle his career because of bad booking, and that won’t happen to a guy who gradually makes his way to the top of the WWE rather than being rushed to it.
Will Antonio Cesaro enter the main event picture in 2013?
Cesaro is already making quite the name for himself as a performer, and we’ve seen an incredibly limited sample of his work on the main roster so far. Anyone who watched him in ROH knows what type of greatness we could be in store for, and those who don’t need only to look at what he’s done in a short time in the WWE so far.
You’re reading this article right now, aren’t you? There’s probably a reason for that, and it’s that you have some sort of interest in Cesaro.
I don’t blame you because it seems like Cesaro is catching the eye of plenty of people these days, including WWE announcers JBL and Jim Ross, who both agree that the Swiss superstar is “flat out incredible.”
Not even a year into his WWE run, Cesaro is getting some very high praise from one man who’s known for scouting talent and another who is a former WWE champion. That’s gotta mean something, right?
Well, if it all works like it should, then it will mean that Cesaro losing the US title won’t be a punishment. It’ll be a way to get him in the main event where he can go toe-to-toe with the WWE’s top dogs.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!