Monday on Raw, Cesaro, who has quietly faded since a memorable Battle Royal win at WrestleMania XXX, wrestled Rob Van Dam.
Cesaro had already defeated Van Dam and Jack Swagger in an elimination Triple Threat match the night before at Extreme Rules, so the fact they were wrestling again was unnecessary.
The match ended in a disqualification loss for Cesaro, who failed to break a five count as he was pummeling Van Dam with his signature forearm strikes.
Paul Heyman, Cesaro's manager, eventually ushered Cesaro away from the ring. While doing so, Heyman urged his client to let up so he doesn't "get suspended.”
Cesaro is now officially entrenched in a meaningless feud against an aging legend. The two have exchanged victories in the last few weeks, making them no better or worse than when they began feuding. If Cesaro were suspended, would fans be able to tell the difference?
As popular as Van Dam is, he has never been a beacon of ascension for budding WWE superstars. Van Dam has had little to no character development since he began pointing to himself and shouting his name to the crowd's delight.
That first happened over 15 years ago.
Since then, his move set has remained the same, and he is always a safe bet to airbrush his ring gear and throw on a pair of kick pads.
Few superstars have lived by the old “if it ain't broke don't fix it” adage better than Rob Van Dam. But what works for Rob Van Dam hardly translates to anything of value when it comes to working with up-and-coming talent.
Van Dam's one-dimensional gimmick carries no pathos. He therefore can't be trusted to be a foil for another one-dimensional character like Cesaro.
Van Dam never quite branched out on the microphone outside of an impassioned speech about his love for ECW back at One Night Stand in 2005. Who could blame him? He only needs three words to get over. But therein lies the problem when it comes to working with Cesaro.
There are pivotal questions that come with every basic feud. Why are they feuding? Is there a conflict? What's their motivation? What's at stake? These questions have not been answered by Cesaro or RVD through a riveting promo.
Sure, with Heyman now acting as Cesaro's advocate, Van Dam was recently able to make a passing reference to Heyman bouncing checks as booker of ECW. Unfortunately, just about everybody who has feuded with Heyman took a similar shot.
Heyman's real-life reputation as a slimy promoter who worked talent for money has long since been weaved into his on-camera persona. He's a master manipulator and a damn good one at that. At this point, reminding fans of his past thievery is a compliment.
Van Dam's slights on Heyman are doubly ineffective since he is easily the most successful wrestler to ever come out of ECW. RVD is one of the few ECW alumnus who went on to become an established star in WWE and is still standing. It's difficult to feel any sympathy for Van Dam when he talks about Heyman taking his money.
Suddenly, Cesaro-Sandman sounds like a more compelling program.
Cesaro-Van Dam has also been big-footed by Heyman's insistence on mentioning Brock Lesnar's unfathomable win over Undertaker at WrestleMania XXX.
With Lesnar operating on a limited-dates contract, it's necessary to keep him in the minds fans through Heyman. But this has come at the expense of Cesaro, who immediately seems minor league compared to Lesnar's exploits. After all, in the words of Heyman, Brock Lesnar “is the one in 21-1.”
Since pairing up with Heyman and feuding with Van Dam, Cesaro has seemed more like the other ones. Bland music, zero microphone time and working as a heel with fans eager to cheer him have set the King of Swing back a few steps, and he won't move another step forward until the character of his competition improves.
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