Cesaro's WWE journey must take a sharp turn because Tyson Kidd had to go under the knife.
A neck injury ends his alliance with Kidd, at least for now. WWE has to press pause on a team that began the year as the tag team division's hottest act. And with Kidd's career unfortunately derailed momentarily, Cesaro finds himself without a partner and without direction again.
However, this is a prime example of the "when one door closes, another opens" idiom.
WWE has a shot now to propel Cesaro.
Bolstering his win-loss record, pitting him against a red-hot prize fighter and finishing an old story that never reached its climax is the best way to do just that. As 2015 closes, The King of Swing could be poised to grab the rungs near the top of the WWE ladder. Allowing him to shine in the ring and presenting him as a formidable force are the biggest keys to accomplishing that.
That process should begin now, prepping him for a post-SummerSlam marquee matchup.
The memories fans have of Cesaro coming out on top are minimal. As a singles star and a tag team specialist, he often followed up victories with defeats. Winning streaks were a foreign concept to him.
To get him in position to climb up the ladder, Cesaro needs to start plowing through the competition.
Have him appear regularly on Raw and SmackDown against a succession of lower-level foes. He dismisses Adam Rose with little trouble. He topples Mark Henry. He beats up on each member of The Ascension.
During this period of wins, Cesaro wears a touch of pink on his boots and uses the Sharpshooter as a tribute to his injured partner. He is presented as a hard-nosed competitor who wants to take down WWE's bullies.
That leads to an altercation with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. The two "brothers" stomp on The Lucha Dragons after defeating them. Cesaro comes charging in to protect them, landing big uppercuts on both heels.
It's easy then to set up a Harper vs. Cesaro collision at SummerSlam. This is especially ideal if Rowan is still not 100 percent at that point.
Harper gives Cesaro one hell of a fight, but the Swiss strongman wins. Chances are, the match is a high-quality display of smashmouth wrestling. It most certainly would have Cesaro looking like a contender.
This would mark just the latest victory in a streak that the announcers play up each time he fights. That success earns him a spot in a Fatal 4-Way match for a shot at the United States Championship.
Cena (assuming he loses the title at Battleground or SummerSlam) is in this bout, as are Samoa Joe and Dolph Ziggler. Having four babyfaces in the contest makes it harder to predict. This lineup also allows Cesaro to gain some revenge three times over.
Cena has defeated Cesaro on multiple occasions. Kidd was injured in a match with Joe. Ziggler beat Cesaro in straight falls in their 2-out-of-3 Falls match for the Intercontinental Championship at last year's Hell in a Cell.
Play this up as a chance for Cesaro to prove himself against two guys who have beaten him in the past and a man he blames for Kidd being out of action. Have Cesaro superplex, uppercut and swing his way to a win here, looking mighty difficult to beat at this point.
Brawls with a Bruiser
Kevin Owens is the type of wrestler sure to produce great work against Cesaro. Both have extensive indy experience and have learned how to adapt that style to the WWE stage. Both men infuse brawling, mat work and bursts of excitement into their bouts.
With Cesaro on a roll and fresh off earning the No. 1 contender's spot, he takes on Owens at Night of Champions.
It's a hard-fought battle that is mostly even. That is, until the champion hurls Cesaro into the ring post outside. The blow leaves Cesaro's right arm limp.
The announcers wonder whether he's dislocated his shoulder as he fights on. He guts it out for a while but is not at full strength, allowing Owens to win via the pop-up powerbomb.
Cesaro demands a rematch. He says he knows that Owens is scared of him and that he is one of the few people in the world who can stand up to Owens.
An interaction between them on SmackDown devolves into a fist fight early on. They go from talking about a rematch to brawling on the entrance ramp.
Owens gives Cesaro that rematch but promises that he will leave the arena more hurt than he was at Night of Champions.
At Hell in a Cell, Cesaro has Owens on his heels for much of the night. He counters many of Owens' moves, even the rarely used ones. The announcers play up how much tape Cesaro has watched and how he's such an adept student of the mat game.
When Owens' frustration reaches a high point and he is unsure of how to keep Cesaro down, he rolls out of the ring and lures Cesaro to the outside. That's where he powerbombs Cesaro on the ring apron, leaving him hurt.
Cesaro clutches his ribs and tries to continue. When the powerhouse is unable to stand without his knees buckling, the referee stops the match.
In addition to elevating Owens' status as a dangerous monster, that feud leaves Cesaro looking like a resilient warrior. To build on that and make up for the losses he suffered, he will need to tangle with a familiar face, one fans barely see today.
A Rivalry Yet Untapped
WWE never had Cesaro and Jack Swagger's story reach its final conclusion. It's a potentially explosive rivalry that the company should turn to as a means to thrust Cesaro higher up the card.
He can get another string of wins going and show off his heart in the process.
With taped ribs, Cesaro takes on Stardust on Raw. The Swiss Superman struggles throughout but counters a Beautiful Disaster Kick with a European uppercut to get the win. Cesaro grabs a mic and challenges Owens to come out.
Instead, it's Jack Swagger who emerges from the curtains.
Cesaro's former tag team partner is seething. He says he feels betrayed and abandoned.
Swagger accuses Cesaro of not giving his full effort when they were a team. In his mind, that's why they never won the tag team titles. Swagger says he's tired of seeing Cesaro's face on TV, taking opportunities that should be his.
"I could have handled Luke Harper. I would have won that Fatal 4-Way. And I would have finished off the job against Kevin Owens," he says.
Swagger lays out Cesaro with a chair, cracking the weapon against his foe's injured ribs. That ignites a feud between them that extends until the end of 2015.
Cesaro, despite being injured, overcomes Swagger in a number of bouts, including one at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs.
At that point, he will have surely added to his fanbase and expanded his collection of classics. With those added wins on his belt, with images of his gutsy performances still fresh, WWE can then position Cesaro toward the top tier.