Since the WWE brands itself as sports entertainment, sometimes fans tend to focus more on promos than in-ring work. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with that, but ignoring the wrestling aspect means that you're missing the rapid ascent of Antonio Cesaro.
Cesaro made an immediate impact upon joining the WWE as he won the United States Championship at SummerSlam and hasn't looked back since. He was already an established star in Ring of Honor as Claudio Castagnoli, and while his in-ring style has been toned down a bit in WWE, it is far more advanced than most of his counterparts.
Is Antonio Cesaro the most exciting pure wrestler in WWE today?
If Cesaro is going to become a main-event star, there is no question that he'll have to solidify his mic work and refine his character, but those things are likely to happen over time. Until then, I am perfectly content with watching Cesaro work his magic inside the squared circle.
There are currently several great grapplers in the WWE with guys like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and Tyson Kidd coming immediately to mind, but I prefer Cesaro's skill set to all of them. Generally speaking, the vast majority of the top pure wrestlers in the sport are on the smaller side. Cesaro, on the other hand, has great size, but he is technically sound as well.
There isn't a single competitor in the WWE, or in professional wrestling as a whole, with the combination of size, strength, agility and mat ability that the Swiss sensation possesses. Not only has he proven capable of working a fast-paced style with the likes of Justin Gabriel, Sin Cara and Kofi Kingston, but he can also engage in an all-out brawl with bigger guys such as Brodus Clay and Ryback.
You simply don't see many superstars who can adapt to any situation the way that Cesaro can. He has shown on numerous occasions that he has the stamina to keep up with smaller, quicker wrestlers, but at the same time, his raw strength is unbelievable as he has managed to get a behemoth like The Funkasaurus up in the Gotch-style Neutralizer.
Each and every time the U.S. Champion steps into the ring, the audience is in for a real treat. While the hardcore fans recognize just how good he is and how much potential he has, it doesn't seem as though the general public has come to that realization. Unfortunately, much of that has to do with the fact that he has been booked so poorly as champion.
He routinely looks strong as he doesn't lose many matches, but he hasn't taken part in a feud that the fans truly care about. His current program is with R-Truth, however, there hasn't been any heat between them and it has always been obvious that Cesaro would come out on top. A true rivalry with an over face would work wonders for him.
Recent developments seem to suggest that the WWE is very high on him, though. He faced Ryback on both Raw and SmackDown this week, and although he came up short both times, they were meant to look like extremely impressive wins for Ryback. Also, Cesaro main-evented Tribute to the Troops by going toe-to-toe with John Cena.
The WWE realizes Cesaro's value as an in-ring competitor because it can trust him to work in a number of different styles against a myriad of opponents. Some WWE superstars are pigeonholed and can only be trusted in certain situations, but Cesaro is a veritable Swiss army knife due to his utilitarian ability to do it all between the ropes.
Although the other aspects of Cesaro's character haven't caught up to his wrestling, he is a true throwback. He has a vintage look and doesn't seem like he would have been out of place facing the likes of Karl Gotch or Hans Schmidt. Some current fans may not fully understand the appeal, but he is simply a different animal than the prototypical superstar.
I have no doubt that Cesaro is a future top heel in the WWE, and provided he gets put in some meaningful feuds and rounds out his character, it will happen sooner rather than later. No matter what, though, it will all be buoyed by the work he does in the ring rather than theatrics outside it.