Since his debut on WWE television last April, Antonio Cesaro has been on the path to stardom. His physical in-ring style, anti-American heel persona and his ability to match up with just about any worker on the roster make him an ideal candidate for the top of the card. All Antonio Cesaro needs to reach the top of the WWE is a major feud.
Cesaro, currently WWE's United States champion, has been engaged in an on-again, off-again feud with The Miz over the past couple of months. The two have had numerous verbal exchanges and a couple of average-to-good matches, including a bout for the U.S. title on the pre-show for last month's Royal Rumble pay-per-view. There are a couple of problems with this feud, however.
The first issue is that Miz is in the midst of a babyface turn, and hasn't really established himself as a good guy with the WWE Universe yet. Pairing him with Cesaro, who has gotten pretty solid heel heat during his run, has done more for Miz than it has for Cesaro.
The second problem with the Cesaro vs. Miz feud is that Miz has been fighting an ankle injury over the past couple of weeks, and hasn't been able to wrestle actual matches. This has cooled off the heat between the two to some extent. It has also forced WWE to find other opponents for Cesaro. Unfortunately, the creative team has paired Cesaro with Ryback, a monster babyface. Instead of letting Cesaro look strong against Ryback, WWE has booked him as a coward. In their matchups, Cesaro generally leaves the ring and is counted out, or attempts to leave the ring and is forced back in, only to be defeated. This is diminishing Cesaro in the eyes of fans, who are starting to believe that he cannot compete with the very top stars.
Cesaro needs to be in a feud with an established star, and he needs to be booked as a strong, confident heel.
During his run in Ring of Honor, Cesaro, under the name Claudio Castagnoli, proved that he can be a top star. He was a top contender for ROH's world title on several occasions. He also headlined numerous cards as part of the tag team Kings of Wrestling with Chris Hero. Former stars CM Punk and Daniel Bryan have proven that ROH alumni can have productive careers at the top of the WWE. Cesaro has competed in more than 10 different organizations, and has been a headliner in just about all of them. He has the necessary experience to be a top star.
There are plenty of candidates on the WWE roster that could help push Cesaro to the top if given a chance to feud with the U.S. champ.
Perhaps the most obvious choice is Daniel Bryan. Bryan has history with Cesaro. The two feuded in ROH, headlining many cards between 2005 and 2008. Bryan's style fits with Cesaro's, and both men are good on the mic. Furthermore, Bryan knows what it's like to come to WWE from the indies, and would likely be willing to make Cesaro look good in the ring.
Chris Jericho would be another great foe for Cesaro. Y2J is only back on the WWE roster for a limited time, and it would serve the company best if he were used to put over some young, rising stars during his comeback. Like Bryan, Jericho is a good match for Cesaro in the ring and on the mic. A strong showing against Y2J would definitely push Cesaro up the card.
With whom should Cesaro feud?
Though not as established as Bryan or Jericho, Jack Swagger would make a strong foe for Cesaro. Swagger recently returned to WWE television after a four-month hiatus. He's been booked strong since his comeback, and is currently trying to earn a spot in the SmackDown chamber match at this month's Elimination Chamber PPV. Swagger is known as the "All-American American," and would be the perfect foil for Cesaro's heel character, who claims that no American can beat him for the U.S. title. While Swagger's mic skills still need some work, no one is better in the ring. A feud between Cesaro and Swagger would benefit both men.
Perhaps the best potential opponent for Cesaro would be John Cena. Cena is currently tied up in storylines with The Shield and The Rock. The feud couldn't start until after WrestleMania 29, where Cena is slated to battle for the WWE Championship, most likely against Rock. However, once the WM season is over, Cesaro could enter a feud with Cena, who will most likely be the WWE champion at that point.
While Cena isn't as good in the ring as any of the previously mentioned wrestlers, or as strong on the mic as Jericho or Bryan, he's the top dog in WWE, and has been for almost 10 years. A strong showing with Cena would elevate Cesaro to top heel status.
Antonio Cesaro has the potential to be a top star in the WWE. His anti-American character draws heat from the fans. He has top-flight mat skills and does a good job on the mic. All he lacks is a major feud to get to the top.
Is Cesaro doomed to midcard purgatory forever? Is there someone missing from the list? Have a problem with someone mentioned here? Speak your mind in the comments section below.