Wrestler of the Day – February 15: Antonio Cesaro

Since my other option today is Larry Sweeny, I’ll get with the times and go with Cesaro.

Cesaro got his start in 2003 as Claudio Castagnoli but since he’s got a lot of stuff to get to, we’ll be jumping to ROH in 2009. Claudio was an entrant in the 2009 Survival of the Fittest tournament, where six wrestlers win qualifying matches before advancing to the finals later that night.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match: Petey Williams vs. Claudio Castagnoli

Claudio is freaking RIPPED. He’s announced as being VERY EUROPEAN. I love that. Williams is still doing the dumb Maple Leaf Muscle thing that got him nowhere in TNA but whatever. Claudio was trained by Honky Tonk Man. Oh dear help him. The visual here is really funny as Claudio is 6’5 and Williams is 5’7, so it’s really weird looking.

I love all the little jokes we’re getting here to old wrestlers and move names that you don’t get elsewhere. They’re doing a lot of mat stuff here but it’s actually good so I can’t complain at all. Claudio is the heel here but he’s ridiculously popular so it means nothing at all. Petey gets to use some of his highflying stuff that wasn’t allowed in TNA because he had to work slow to not show Steiner up.

He hits a jumping over the top rope thing into a Codebreaker. Nice but it’s just two. Claudio does a move called the UFO, which is a rack but he spins in a circle really fast, at one point letting his arms go and then just throws Petey to the mat. Again though it’s just two, which makes it seem far less impressive.

A Canadian uses a Russian Legsweep onto a Swiss man into an Oklahoma Roll. I love wrestling. Claudio grabs the referee to avoid a Canadian Destroyer and hits a low blow and a European uppercut to end it.

Rating: C+. Not bad but not great either. Petey got to show off a whole lot and that’s something you don’t get to see from him that often. Also here you didn’t have the whole big man vs. little man formula nonsense going on and they got to play off of each other a bit. Again, very nice for a change.

Survival of the Fittest Finals: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Chris Hero vs. Delirious vs. Roderick Strong vs. Colt Cabana vs. Tyler Black

Now for those of you that haven’t heard of Delirious, this guy is freaking INSANE. He babbles incoherently and has been known to wrestle matches in slow motion. What does that tell you? Oh and he’s awesome in the ring by the way. He and Punk had an AWESOME match in I think IWA-MS that got me into both guys. The cool thing about this for me is I legitimately don’t know who is going to win.

Most of the time I know the results but here I’m completely blank on them. Black sells the injury to his neck from earlier on the way in which is nice. I hope there are tags in this. Claudio and Hero used to be in a team that dominated indy tag wrestling for awhile called the Kings of Wrestling and Delirious and Black were in the Age of the Fall together. Ah good it is tagging.

Delirious, Strong and Hero have all won. Black and Delirious start, and my money is on Black to win it. They start with a lot of technical stuff before Cabana comes in for Black. Let the comedy begins. Black is criticized for never being able to win the big one, which is a common criticism that there was for ROH. I’m not going to list off all the tags as they’re going rather fast.

We get Castagnoli vs. Hero, which is a battle of the skyscrapers in ROH as both guys are 6’5, which is enormous in this company. A thing I like about indy wrestling is you can use other stuff than signature moves in a match. For example, they trade full nelsons. That move makes sense, but in WWE no one but Masters can use it. See what I mean?

Now I don’t mean everyone uses the FU or the Pedigree, but a transitional move like the spinebuster shouldn’t be only reserved for HHH and two other guys. In a WEIRD looking spot, both guys interlock their legs and then wind up standing on their heads. They shake hands while in this position. That’s rather…uh…yeah. It’s Black and Claudio now as we’re definitely in for the long haul here.

Everyone is still in at this point. Prazak is in love with Hero I think. He refuses to shut up about how awesome he is. In a PAINFUL looking spot Claudio spins Black around by the hair. That has to hurt something fierce. In a great sequence that gets the crowd going, Delirious drills Claudio with about 10 clotheslines in the corner before Hero saves him. Cabana comes in and we get a mini tag match.

The Kings of Wrestling are thrown to the floor and get stereo suicide dives, but then Strong and Black get in and launch themselves over the top rope at both guys. Very awesome and fast paced spot. It’s Delirious vs. Claudio now and the crazy masked man is in trouble. In a movie I haven’t seen before, Claudio uses a hip toss from the second rope. That’s different if nothing else.

I like Hero’s facial expressions. Delirious goes for a backslide on Claudio but Hero knocks the European’s head off with the elbow, allowing Delirious to get the backslide and the pin. Immediately as in less than 5 seconds later, he rolls up Cabana and we’re down to four. I’ll give this match this much: it’s not boring.

After an elbow from Hero he covers Delirious and the referee does that same thing he did earlier on with the count stopping at two even though the kickout hasn’t happened yet. We hit a mess and Strong hits a big kick into the chest of Delirious to put him out. Immediately after he kicks out of the elbow from Hero and a Liger Bomb.

We have Strong, Hero and Black left in case you weren’t sure. If I remember right Strong is known as the Messiah of the Backbreaker, as he uses a ton of them. That’s unique if nothing else. Hero and Black just pound the tar out of each other with forearms. And there goes Hero to a move called God’s Last Gift. Think of a Perfectplex but instead it’s a really compact DDT where he just hooks the legs into a small package for the pin. I like that.

So it’s Strong vs. Black for the title. Works for me. Black gets a NICE flying elbow from the top for two. They’re cranking up the speed here and I’m digging this. Strong hits a bunch of backbreakers and then we hit the Strong Hold: a Boston Crab. That’s psychology, even though Black has a bad neck. It’s passable though as his finisher is a back submission.

Strong gets knocked into the crowd and Black goes up with a flying clothesline into about the third row. I love the shot of the fans just moving backwards for them. I like that for some reason. I love Black’s springboards. He doesn’t use a bunch flips or anything but just launches himself at Strong. We’re back in the Strong Hold and the fans chant tap. Somehow he kicks out and then Black hits his two finishers for two.

This is great stuff here. Strong gets the loudest kick to the back of Black’s head that I’ve ever heard. Fans are WAY into this. Strong just goes insane on Black with knee shots and an AWESOME kick to the head for TWO. The kicking out is getting to be a bit much here. I get the survival thing, but this is getting to be a bit much. Ok yeah three straight superkicks gets two.

The fourth gets it but Strong kicked out anyway, so the fans boo the finish. That’s never good. Black wins and then gets on the mic and says thank you to Strong in a cool moment. He then says that Cornette was wrong. These guys aren’t the future, but the future is now, and Strong deserves a rematch to end the show.

Rating: A-. This was about 45 minutes long and awesome throughout. The fans were way into it and by the end I was buying into it also. The key thing for me was that all 6 guys looked like potential winners and while based on the way Black had been built up throughout the night it was kind of clear he would win, it was never a lock, which makes the match instantly better. Very fun stuff here and while I usually don’t like multi-man matches, this was an exception, which is saying a lot for me.

Around this time, Claudio was also teaming up with Chris Hero and dominating the indy scene. They held the CZW, Chikara and ROH Tag Titles at the same time. After splitting up in 2007, the pair reunited in late 2009 and became ROH Tag Team Champions again. Here’s a defense from Death Before Dishonor VII.

Tag Titles: Briscoe Brothers vs. Kings of Wrestling

This should be awesome. It’s kind of weird watching the Kings as they’re both about 6’5 which means they tower over the vast majority of the roster. Hero and Claudio cut promos saying they appreciate the Briscoes not being allowed to be here, so of course they hit the ring and it’s on. No DQ here which is a surprise I think. Big dive by one of the Brothers takes out the Kings. I’ve never been able to remember which is which so bear with me.

Why do they have to tag in and out? If you can’t get disqualified then what’s stopping them? Hero starts and it’s been one sided the whole way so far. Claudio is finally up in his corner after getting his teeth kicked in. The challengers get after Shane Hagadorn and I think you know this isn’t going to work. Claudio is busted open already. Someone that’s either a young boy or an adult woman shouts that Hero is a pussy. I hope it was a girl.

Everything breaks down early and Mark Briscoe is busted open pretty well. Ok now I can tell one from the other. Oh man Mark is busted BAD. The heels have taken over here and we get a gay chant against Hero. Nice double cross body and there’s the hot tag to Jay. He drives Hero’s head into the buckle about 25 times and now he’s busted open. O’Connor Roll gets two but Hagadorn pelts Jay with a chair to put him on the floor. Hagadorn is the Kings’ manager if I forgot to mention that earlier.

Jay is busted open too now. Hero ties Jay to the post with the tag rope Total bloodbath here but they said that at the previous show they had a long technical match so this is far more acceptable. Doomsday Device but with a European Uppercut gets two on Mark. The referee gets a knife from somewhere and cuts Jay free. A Roaring Elbow (Hero’s finisher) gets two.

Jay gets a freaking fire extinguisher of all things and the Kings are in trouble. Table is brought in as Claudio’s cut is more or less closed. The heels are thrown into the table but it doesn’t break. Double team neckbreaker/powerbomb gets no cover. Claudio counters a slam through the table but the Briscoes tackle him into it where his shoulder goes through the edge of it in a painful looking spot.

Doomsday Device to Shane and the Briscoes are standing tall. Hero pops up with his loaded elbow pad and drills Jay with it for TWO and a big pop. We get more gay slurs at Hero with people saying SCREW YOU Hero. If he’s gay as you say you are, wouldn’t he enjoy that in theory? In an AWESOME looking finish, Castagnoli gets a giant swing and the pad is put on Hero’s foot which he kicks Jay in the head with for the pin.

Rating: B. This was supposed to be a big fight and that’s exactly what it was. All kinds of blood (Mark’s face was COVERED), very good violence, the SICK ending and the whole thing going nearly 20 minutes worked very well. They had a technical match already so this is the next logical step. I’m fine with violence like this when it fits the story, which it did here due to the Kings attacking their dad. Very fun match that was exactly what it was supposed to be.

Claudio was also appearing in Chikara in a stable called BDK, which was something resembling a Norse mythology stable and involved mind control, robots, and squashing insects (and this was before Chikara went insane). Claudio and a wrestler named Ares were the Chikara Tag Team Champions and defended them at Eye to Eye.

Campeonatos de Parejas: Claudio Castagnoli/Ares vs. 3.0

3.0 is comprised of Scott “Jagged” Parker/Shane Matthews. Wow I’m sick of that song that BDK (Claudio/Ares, the champions) comes out to. This is 2/3 falls as are all title shots. The challengers come out second but Delirious runs out and beats them up pre-match. Ok Shane is in the red. Ares gets a Tiger Bomb and the first fall is over 4 seconds after the bell rings.

Claudio beats up Shane on the floor but then chokes Parker with the streamers than earlier. He is freaking ripped. Delirious is on the floor with them. Apparently Ares is the leader of the stable. There’s a guy in a Nexus shirt in one of the closest seats to the entrance who is kind of distracting. Modified powerslam by Ares gets two. This is totally one sided so far.

Bearhug by Claudio to Parker who fights out. And never mind as he’s in the hold again already. Another powerslam gets two and it’s off to Ares again. There’s some heel miscommunication though and Parker rolls up Claudio for the second fall and we’re all tied up! The fans are stunned as that’s the first time the BDK has ever given up a single fall as champions.

Double chokeslam kills Parker for two. The locker room empties to watch this now. The BDK picks up Parker and rams him into the mat multiple times in a cool looking move. Swanton by Ares gets two. Riccola Bomb is reversed by a rana and it’s finally the hot tag to Matthews. Spinebuster to Ares and Claudio gets sent to the floor.

Matthews goes up and hits an elbow drop for two on Ares. So these guys are supposed to be awesome and one tiny man is beating them both up at the same time. Got it. Eh that’s normal in wrestling though, so according to most wrestling fans that means it’s ok. Back to Claudio and Parker. Parker gets a Codebreaker and takes out Claudio on the floor. Matthews gets a powerbomb for two on Ares.

Spinning belly to back by Ares to counter a bulldog. European Uppercut gets two as does the Riccola (arm trap powerbomb) Bomb. The fans chant for 3.0 as apparently a B average works. Small package to Claudio gets two. Instead Claudio realizes he’s huge and puts on an Inverted Chikara Special (half crab with an arm trap that looks awesome). Parker kicks him in the head but since this is an indy company it’s no sold and there’s the tap out to end it.

Rating: B-. Good stuff here and I kind of like the whole quick first fall and then the rest of the match. They got me into the match in the end which is the whole point here. The locker room emptying out was cool as it shows that EVERYONE wants BDK to lose. This was a fun match and solid for the main event.

We’ll look at one of Claudio’s last ROH matches as he and Hero teamed up to defend their Tag Titles against Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team one more time. Ignore that they had already signed with WWE.

Tag Titles: Kings of Wrestling vs. Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team

 

Each time someone comes to the ring they get streamers thrown at them. It’s annoying but I guess it’s something to get used to. The Kings are Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli. The champs (Haas/Benjamin) took the belts from them after the Kings held them forever. This is the first match in 24 minutes, meaning 40% of this show had zero wrestling on it due to highlight packages. That would be like 48 minutes without wrestling on Raw. Oh wait WE HAVE A COMMERCIAL BEFORE THE BELL.

 

There’s the bell and it’s been 27 minutes since the last match ended, or 54 minutes in Raw time. Haas vs. Hero to start us off. How did a guy like Haas get Jackie Gayda? Off to Nigel quickly so maybe he started and I wasn’t paying enough attention. Haas counters a few hip tosses and takes Claudio down with arm drags. This is match #4 in their series and the champs are 2-1 so far.

 

Blind tag brings in Benjamin and he hits a top rope clothesline to take over. Off to hero who gets caught in a small package for two. Hero sells a lot and things start to break down. Benjamin can’t hit the dragon whip and the Kings take over with nefarious means. Benjamin is thrown outside and Hero hits a baseball slide to take him out again. We take a break and come back with Claudio holding a headlock and hitting a powerslam for two.

 

Benjamin tries the tag and hits Dragon Whip this time but Hero pulls Haas off the apron. Charlie comes in and lets Hero hit an elbow to the back of the head for two. Off to Hero (Claudio got the two) and Hero hits a senton backsplash for two. Benjamin counters a double suplex into a double neckbreaker and there’s a leaping hot tag. Roaring Elbow by Hero is countered into a German and Claudio takes a T-Bone for two.

 

A rana and a big boot gets the same. Haas gets taken down and another elbow called the KTFO (you figure it out) gets two for Hero. Was there a tag there? The third spinning forearm/elbow (WE GET IT ALREADY) sets up a giant swing by Claudio as we go back to the 70s. The Kings set for their finisher (KRS 1) but it’s broken up by Benjamin. A hot shot sets up the thing where Shelton jumps over Charlie to land on the other dude’s back and a Hart Attack ends this at 16:48.

 

Rating: B-. Not bad here but dude, this was the best they could do? This is supposed to be the big and epic tag team division that is the best in the world? It’s not bad but it’s certainly not a classic or anything at all. I’ve definitely seen better stuff on Raw or Smackdown this year. I saw a match live that was better than this and I can’t even remember who were partnering with Orton and Christian.

Claudio would move to the WWE and FCW and change his name to Antonio Cesaro. He would debut on FCW TV on October 23, 2011.

Antonio Cesaro vs. Mike Dalton

Dalton is currently known as Tyler Breeze. Cesaro comes out to what was Dean Malenko’s theme music in 2002. Dalton is easily shoved into the corner and Cesaro locks him in a cravate before taking him to the mat. Dalton comes back with a quickly broken hammerlock but runs into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. We hit the chinlock from Cesaro for several moments before Mike comes up for his jobber comeback. Cesaro throws him into the air for Swiss Death and a WICKED powerbomb is good for the pin.

Rating: D+. Total squash here with Cesaro looking awesome. The powerbomb (Riccola Bomb for you indy people) was a great finisher against smaller guys but the switch to the Neutralizer worked better when not everyone was a tiny guy by comparison. Swiss Death looked great as well and this was total domination.

Cesaro would debut on WWE TV in April of 2002 and challenge Santino Marella for the US Title on the preshow of Summerslam 2012.

Pre-Show: US Title: Antonio Cesaro vs. Santino Marella

This is one of those ideas that was brought back after far too many years off. Santino is defending and Cesaro has his HORRID dance music here. He also has Aksana who isn’t horrid at all, other than in the ring of course. Cesaro’s word of the day in five languages: greatness. Santino does the power walk to the ring and is as goofy as ever. Cesaro takes it to the mat but Santino actually spins out for two.

A judo throw puts Cesaro down before Santino power walks out of an Irish whip. Must resist country jokes. Santino avoids a charge in the corner and loads up the Cobra but Cesaro takes his head off from behind. The Cobra goes to the floor and Aksana throws it away. Off to a reverse chinlock with Cesaro pulling on Marella’s ears to keep him away from the Cobra. IT’S A FREAKING SOCK! I know Foley used one too but it didn’t seem to have magical powers.

Santino kicks Cesaro away but still can’t get the sock. The gutwrench suplex gets no cover from the challenger, as he would rather rip the Cobra to shreds. Santino pounds away but misses the headbutt. He counters the Neutralizer and pulls out another Cobra, proving THAT IT’S JUST A FREAKING SOCK! Aksana gets on the apron and the Cobra wants her, allowing Cesaro to hit the Neutralizer for the pin and the title.

Rating: D+. IT’S A FREAKING SOCK! Match was ok but the majority of the five minutes were spent on Santino trying to put a sock on his hand so he can use a neck attack taught to him by John Lovitz. I know he’s a comedy character but there’s a point where it’s stupid rather than funny. Santino half crossed that line years ago.

Soon after this Cesaro would be featured at the 2012 Tribute to the Troops in a match that would make Hulk Hogan proud.

John Cena vs. Antonio Cesaro

Cesaro doesn’t even get an entrance. That should tell you where we’re going here. The Muppets introduce Cena, which is completely awesome. Cena pounds him down to start but Cesaro throws him into the corner to take over. They head to the floor with Cena being rammed into the steps. Back in and the gutwrench suplex gets two and here’s the comeback. Cena shrugs off everything Cesaro did, hits the Five Moves of Doom and wins with the AA at 5:23.

Rating: C. If you don’t get why this match happened the way it does, go watch a test pattern. That’s more on your intelligence level.

Cesaro would head back to NXT from time to time and enter into a feud with Sami Zayn in August of 2013. This led to a 2/3 falls match that speaks for itself.

Sami Zayn vs. Antonio Cesaro

They have a lot of time to work with here and it’s 2/3 falls. Zayn debuted a few months ago and beat Cesaro in Sami’s second match of the night. Cesaro won the rematch so tonight’s the rubber match. Zayn dives over the top to take out Cesaro during his entrance before the bell. Back inside and Sami hits a spinwheel kick for the first fall six seconds after the bell. Cesaro is clotheslined to the floor and sent into the steps as we’re not even a minute into the match.

They slug it out on the floor before Zayn gets two off another spinwheel kick. Zayn pounds away in the corner but can’t get a sunset flip. Cesaro can’t hit a double stomp so Sami goes to the middle rope and jumps from there to the top for a high cross body for two. Cesaro throws him into the air to drop Sami face first on the buckle for two before pounding away at Sami’s head. We hit the standing chinlock for a bit before Cesaro blocks a kick to the ribs and pulls Sami up into a powerbomb for two.

Back to the chinlock but Zayn jawbreaks his way out. A hard clothesline and the running stomp to the chest gets two for Cesaro. Back up and Zayn fires off forearms to the chest but gets caught in a backdrop, allowing Cesaro to rain down right hands. Another double stomp sets up the gutwrench suplex but Sami counters into a sunset flip for two. A running hurricanrana gets the same but Cesaro comes back with a bridging capture suplex for two.

Back from a break with with Cesaro putting on the standing chinlock for the third time. Zayn gets two off a rollup and hits a quick dropkick to put Antonio down. He charges right back into the chinlock though and Cesaro spins him around before taking it to the mat. Zayn actually taps out at about 9:00 shown, making it one fall apiece.

Sami rolls to the apron but Antonio pulls him back in with a superplex from the apron. That’s SCARY strength but it’s only good for two. Zayn grabs a quick rollup for two but gets caught in the chinlock again. That’s rolled up for two followed by Cesaro charging into a boot in the corner. The fans think this is awesome and I can’t say I disagree. Sami gets a VERY close two off a sunset flip after crawling up Cesaro’s body.

Cesaro bails to the floor so Sami heads outside as well before getting a running charge and diving between the ropes into a tornado DDT on the floor. Cesaro dives back in at nine and Sami gets two. Zayn tries to climb the corner for another tornado DDT but Cesaro catches him in midair, lifts him into a gorilla press and drops him down into Swiss Death. Antonio immediately picks up Sami and puts him down with the Neutralizer for the pin and the third fall at 15:38 shown of 18:38.

Rating: A-. Yeah it’s great. The third fall picked WAY up after a solid second fall. I’m not sure I get the idea of having Zayn win the first fall in a few seconds but it was definitely a face way to start the match. Either way, both guys looked great here and the match worked incredibly well with Cesaro looking like a beast at the end. Why he’s in a jobber tag team and not being pushed as a top heel in WWE is beyond me. Check this match out if you have the chance.

We’ll look at one more match from NXT in December of 2013 with Cesaro facing William Regal in a match over respect that had been built up for months.

Antonio Cesaro vs. William Regal

The Fink is doing entrances, which gives me an answer to the question I just asked. The disgusted yet also terrified look on Regal’s face is perfect. Cesaro cranks on the arm to start and Regal can’t counter. Antonio takes him to the mat but Regal nips up to draw a gasp from the crowd. Cesaro stays on the hold and takes Regal down again but there’s another nip up. “You still got it!”

Regal takes Cesaro down to his knees but still can’t get away from the wrist control as we take a break. Back with Cesaro still on the arm and jumping onto a standing Regal’s shoulders (basically putting himself in a fireman’s carry) to apply even more pressure. Regal flips him down into an armbar but Cesaro nips up just like Regal did earlier. William takes him down by the other arm but Cesaro powers up into a test of strength.

Cesaro easily powers Regal down but the Englishman counters into a cross arm choke. He leans backwards to put Cesaro over his knees while still choking, only to be flipped forward to escape. Back to the test of strength before Regal counters a front facelock into a dragon sleeper. Cesaro flips him forward in a kind of reverse suplex for two but Regal gets him down into the corner and does his “distract the referee while kicking the opponent in the face” spot.

Antonio chop blocks Regal down and rams the bad knee into the apron a few times as we take another break. Back with Cesaro holding a leg lock but Regal keeps fighting back with kicks to the head. Cesaro keeps control by cranking on the knee even more and taking off Regal’s knee brace. The knee is bent around Cesaro’s neck in an old Brock Lock but Regal counters into a rollup and backslide for two each. Cesaro hits a series of ten uppercuts to knock Regal silly, setting up the Cesaro Swing.

After some trash talk Antonio loads up the Neutralizer but Regal backdrops his way out. He drops a knee on Cesaro’s arm to take away the Neutralizer. Regal goes after the arm with everything he’s got and hits an overhead suplex for two. The knee is too damaged for the knee trembler though and Cesaro comes back with a headbutt. Regal is fine with that and headbutts Cesaro right back before loading up a double underhook suplex. Cesaro backdrops Regal but can’t break the grip.

Regal takes him to the mat again and tries the Regal Stretch but Cesaro makes the rope. A forearm from the good arm lays Regal out and a double stomp to the back of the head has the referee checking him. Cesaro looks down at Regal before picking up his limp body. He sets up the Neutralizer but thinks twice about it and lets Regal fall back to the mat. Regal tries to pull himself up so Cesaro puts on the Neutralizer. He looks down at Regal’s unconscious body and looks disgusted after pinning Regal at 16:00 shown of 24:00.

Rating: A. I loved this for a lot of reasons. First of all, the technical stuff at the beginning was excellent with two old school craftsmen doing their jobs as well as anyone can. It’s wrestling in its purest form and when you have guys who can work that style it’s as entertaining as you can get. Then there’s the excellent storytelling with Regal trying every trick he knew but not being able to stop Cesaro’s raw power. The ending with Cesaro not wanting to hurt Regal anymore but giving in to his natural instincts of winning at any cost was great stuff. I loved this match and continue to wait for Cesaro to be taken seriously in WWE.

Regal is taken out by referees but Cesaro goes after him and extends a hand. Regal stares him down and shakes hands as we go off the air.

We’ll close it out with Cesaro’s biggest win to date which is more recent than I like to get but you can’t pass up something like this for him.

Cesaro vs. Randy Orton

In the sitdown interview of the week, HHH said he thinks Cesaro might be the wildcard in the Chamber. Cesaro chases Orton to the floor to start but doesn’t go after him. They do the same thing again before Cesaro takes him to the mat and hits the gutwrench for two. A running European uppercut in the corner gets two more and they both head outside. Orton reverses a whip into the barricade and clotheslines Cesar as we take a break.

Back with Orton ramming Cesaro into the announce table and taking him inside for a chinlock. The fans chant WE THE PEOPLE and Cesaro fights out, only to lose a fist fight and get elbowed to the mat. Cesaro rolls outside and catches Orton with a big clothesline of his own and counters the Elevated DDT into the Swing. Randy can barely get to his feet but is able to backdrop out of the Neutralizer. Cesaro lands on his feet but runs into the powerslam for two.

Now the Elevated DDT connects and Orton points to the sign to make this serious. He spends too much time walking around though and it’s Swiss Death for two. They head to the corner where Orton tries a superplex but Cesaro counters into a sunset bomb. A discus uppercut sets up the Neutralizer for the completely clean pin at 12:44.

Rating: B-. Well you can’t give much more of a rub than that. However I’d be much happier with this if Kofi Kingston hadn’t gotten the same kind of a win just a month ago. Cesaro is a guy that could be world championship material with a good push (meaning getting away from Swagger) but I have a feeling this is just for the Chamber and then it’s back to nothing for not-Antonio.

Cesaro is one of the most perfect combinations of look, power, skill and ability that you’ll ever find. He’s one of the strongest men in wrestling and has wrestled everywhere in the world with success. I’m hoping that his current push results in an extended main event run for him as he could be one of the biggest international stars WWE has had in years.

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