Monday, January 9, 2012

Predicting a Moveset: Antonio Cesaro

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No hands needed for this to become a popular signature move
Antonio Cesaro has hit the big leagues, working dark matches at WWE house shows. If it's anything like the house show treatment Dean Ambrose got, it was basically a glorified squash match where Cesaro won't be getting a whole lot of offense in. Therefore, I wouldn't really expect to see much of a preview when it comes to what he'll be doing when he's in control of a match if those out there end up seeing him on the card.

As Claudio Castagnoli in the indies, he had a very rich moveset, combining classic big man moves with creative impact moves and a healthy does of European uppercuts. We all know that the difference between indie and WWE move pools are night and day, with the former being a lot more extensive than the latter. That being said, it'll be interesting to see which of his many moves will make it over into his more concise WWE offensive array. I'm going to go through his signature independent moves and give a read on which ones are most likely to end up in his arsenal, either as a finisher or a signature move.

Ricola Bomb - This was Cesaro's most famous finisher in the indies. It's a straitjacket powerbomb, named for one of his native land's most famous products (in true pro wrestling style). I'd say this move has a great chance to end up as his finisher in WWE as well because it's a twist on a relatively simple move that no one in the company currently does. Unless they REALLY dumb down his offense (which is possible, very possible), then I see this as even money to be his big finisher.

The Big Swing - If WWE aims to establish Cesaro as a monster, there'd be scant fewer moves to help him get over in that capacity than the Big Swing. The linked version shows him doing 100 rotations to Grizzly Redwood, but normally, he goes five or six. That all being said? The average wrestler size in WWE is larger than it is in the indies, which would make the move look more impressive, but would also make it more difficult to do as well as unfeasible in most scenarios against the Mark Henrys and Big Shows of the world. I see this as a special occasion thing or squash match fodder against smaller opponents at best.

Bicycle Kick - No chance at all. WWE doesn't like guys to share signature moves, and there's already one, tall, muscular foreigner using the bicycle kick. Unless Cesaro and Sheamus end up in a tag team where their finisher is kicks in stereo, there's no chance this move gets ported from the indies.

Swiss Death - The European uppercut is definitely making it to Cesaro's moveset, but will this pop-up version? I can see this as a great mid-match momentum shifter, either as a crowd-killer towards the beginning as a villain or as a great comeback counter as a babyface. I also wouldn't be too surprised if it didn't make the cut at all. Give it a 50/50 shot.

The Neutralizer - Towards the end of his PWG run, Cesaro broke out the stretch muffler he called the Neutralizer on a few occasions. It's a great big man submission hold, evidenced by Brock Lesnar adopting it for his own. It's for that reason why this move isn't making the jump. Lesnar is rumored to be interested in a WWE return, and I doubt they'd let "some new guy" co-opt his trademark submission. I doubt we'll see Cesaro do this much if at all.

UFO - This really could have the potential to be one of Cesaro's signature spots, the veritable crowd-popping move in his repertoire. Since WWE and the indies are a different animal, I'm not sure he could still use it as effectively as a bad guy in the bigs as he did in his old stomping grounds. That being said, I'm about as sure about this move being included, "no hands, ma!" and everything.

Alpamare Waterslide - I doubt this move will make it. It's not because it's difficult to pull off; quite conversely, it's an inverted Angle slam. WWE has guys using different variations, inversions or otherwise of the same move all the time, especially when they're easy to pull off. That being said, WWE isn't exactly innovative in how their big men perform offense. Look at how they treated mobile big men like Bam Bam Bigelow, Vader, The Big Show and basically everyone except Undertaker and Lesnar to a point. So, I'll be very surprised if this makes it into Cesaro's moveset.

Other Moves - It all depends on what their plans for him end up being. Will they try to nudge him into the typical WWE big guy role? If so, then I feel like we'll be seeing a lot of the standard big man offense to go with his staples like the European uppercut, Ricola Bomb and UFO. Stuff like the choke slam, big boot, power slam and other clubbing strikes will probably creep into his repertoire if this is the case. If they decide to let him do what he does best though, then I expect to see a lot of the same styles of matches that we saw in the indies as Claudio. While the signature moves won't all make it, the finesse working style and slick, graceful, smaller-wrestler-type tropes will. At this point though, I'll be shocked if he doesn't get forced to wrestle in more of a big guy style rather than all-rounder that indie fans know him best as.

Regardless though, WWE is getting a fantastic and versatile wrestler. Cesaro is a guy who can step in and have great matches with the Big Show, Mark Henry, Sheamus or Wade Barrett. WE already know he can have them with smaller guys, as he's been a giant in the land of the mere men for years now. Plus, familiar opponents like Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and Evan Bourne have already made it, making potential opponents as familiar as they are new. The verdict here is, no matter what moves Antonio Cesaro has in his repertoire in WWE, it won't be his in-ring game that'll be his undoing.

Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein - Please visit his site to view the plentiful amounts of pictures he's taken for DGUSA, ROH and other indie feds: Get Lost Photography