WWE is nothing if not patterned a lot of the time. One of the most obvious patterns is that someone with a scheduled title shot will lose a bunch of matches in a row on TV if he's going to win the title. The idea is that you get a bunch of built-in challengers, and the new champion can afford the losses because he's going to gain so much by winning the title.
Cesaro was seemingly on this path in the last few weeks.
After Wade Barrett was injured and vacated the WWE Intercontinental Championship, Cesaro started losing all of his televised matches. He made sense as the next champion, so the pieces all fit together perfectly—or so it seemed. Not only did Cesaro not win the Battle Royal for the vacant title at Battleground, but he was eliminated by Heath Slater of all people and didn't even make it to the final four.
This came on the heels of Paul Heyman not accompanying Cesaro to the ring on the previous Monday's Raw. The announcers briefly alluded to rumors that Heyman had been fired by Cesaro during the WWE tour of Japan a few days earlier before moving on. Heyman appeared later in the show to talk to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, claiming he was "picking [his] spot." It seemed like that was a hint he was still with Cesaro, but it wasn't clear at all.
At Battleground, Heyman was nowhere to be found, and it looks like that's permanent when it comes to his association with Cesaro. On Wrestling Observer Radio (F4WOnline.com subscribers only), it was reported that the Cesaro/Heyman pairing has officially been "forgotten." Heyman isn't briefly shifting his attention to Brock Lesnar for SummerSlam, he's just done with Cesaro.
In the end, at best, the relationship did nothing for Cesaro.
More realistically, Cesaro is in worse standing than he was when Heyman joined him the night after WrestleMania 30. Cesaro was one of the hottest rising stars in the company and ready for a huge babyface turn. He split with Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter, won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and was possibly the second most popular wrestler in New Orleans that weekend after Daniel Bryan.
On the Raw that closed WrestleMania weekend, he declared he was "a Paul Heyman guy" to the surprise and delight of the hardcore fans from around the world who were in attendance. Keep in mind that this was about an hour after that amazing promo Heyman cut about his client, Brock Lesnar, ending The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania, which riled up a crowd that was initially happy to see him.
The way the segment was scripted and performed, it came off to a lot of fans like Cesaro was still going to be a babyface, albeit one with a heel or possibly grey manager. Instead, both were back to being full heels the next night at the SmackDown tapings in Lafayette, Louisiana. It didn't click at all, and Cesaro cooled off more and more each week, becoming a backdrop for Heyman yakking about Brock Lesnar. Now it's done, and Cesaro is just a guy again.
I wouldn't necessarily put the blame on Heyman, but as presented, the pairing didn't work. It's not the first time this has happened; look at the fates of Ryback and Curtis Axel after their association with Heyman last year. A few months ago, Ryback talked to Scott Fishman of the Miami Herald about his disappointment with the Heyman storylines last year and how they led to him teaming with Axel:
I got absolutely nothing [from that]. It’s a time period I will not even think to look back on. ... Curtis Axel is a great, amazing human being. Working with him is the most fun I’ve had in wrestling in some time. The only positive thing from Paul Heyman was getting to be around Curtis Axel and getting that out of it. Me and Curtis go back to developmental together. I’m very happy we are getting a chance to mesh and gel on TV and come together as RybAxel.
It's hard to disagree with him. The Heyman-Punk storyline with Ryback and Axel as heel enforcers did nothing good for anyone involved. It ran way too long, and—with hindsight—Punk appeared to be running on fumes without much interest in it. Axel gained nothing other than having a less stupid name than Michael McGillicutty, and Ryback's stock went down.
Cesaro was a standout before Heyman, and now he's just a guy.
When it seemed like Cesaro vs. Brock Lesnar was the end game, I could deal with Cesaro being a heel managed by Heyman for a while. Now that a Lesnar match doesn't appear to be in the cards, what was the point? He lost all of his momentum, and none of it is his fault. He's talented enough to get past this, but he'll need a lot of booking help to get there.
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