Cesaro has reintroduced himself to WWE in more ways than one over the past couple of weeks. In addition to dropping "Antonio" from his stage name, Cesaro's past two television matches were main event-caliber masterpieces against main event talent.
First came his war against Randy Orton. Cesaro implemented his signature physical style of offense that Orton seemed all but willing to accommodate. The ferocious match concluded with a clean win for Cesaro following a brilliant finishing sequence of offense.
SmackDown served as a dress rehearsal for Cesaro's biggest career match to date, as the former ROH star was paired with John Cena on Raw.
Cesaro was just as impressive against Cena, if not more. He reportedly received a standing ovation (from F4WOnline via WrestlingInc) following a nearly flawless output.
The contest became such a spectacle the result came secondary to the match itself. In one sequence, Cesaro managed to hit a superplex on Cena's bodybuilding frame while Cena was still on the apron. It's a feat he's done before, but never on a stage or star this big.
Keeping up with the Cesaro-approved physicality, Cena connected on a stiff clothesline that needed little help appearing real. Cena's unique roll through into an Attitude Adjustment spelled defeat for Cesaro in the ring, but in the grand scheme of things, Cesaro had arrived.
Cesaro was elevated in defeat more than any of the night's winners could have imagined.
But what if he won?
WWE's insistence on what has come to be known as even-Steven booking is a self-defeating concept that unnecessarily curbs talent potential.
With the WrestleMania picture (from PWInsider via WrestlingInc) beginning to take form, it is almost a foregone conclusion Cesaro will not win the Elimination Chamber. Had he been able to lay claim to beating Orton and Cena on Raw and SmackDown back-to-back, he wouldn't have needed it.
A Cena loss to one of the hottest WWE superstars on the roster would have done nothing to him. Cena has lost to far inferior talents with not a scratch to show for it. A win, however, would have gone a long way toward solving WWE's terminal problem with creating new stars.
With an impressive loss to Cena, Cesaro now has a Roman Reigns quality to him. Words like potential and future are now being thrown around to describe him as part of a rosy-eyed outlook that ignores casualties like Miz and Dolph Ziggler.
A Cesaro victory over Cena has spent the last two weeks challenging the WWE locker room to step up both on camera and behind the scenes—tells fans the future is now.
Instead, Cesaro is now a main event on hold, which means nothing given WWE's fickle pattern of booking top stars. Having Cesaro go over in a match this big this soon would have installed credibility that he could feast off of for years.
Ice cold as he is at the moment, Sheamus is still floating around in the main event stemming from his upset win over Cena at TLC in 2009.
Wins and losses like Sheamus' over elite stars are what fans remember more than anything. Chris Jericho wasn't made in the WWE when he became the first-ever undisputed champion following a victory over Steve Austin. He was made because he beat Austin and The Rock in the same night, a claim his character boasted more than being a champion.
A Cesaro win over Cena would have been this generation's version of that feat, with the upstart strongman able to bask in victories over WWE's two biggest stars.
Unfortunately, he'll have to make do with a successful audition tape in the form of a loss to Cena. No matter how much momentum Cesaro currently has, there are far too many cautionary tales for his fans to be encouraged just yet.