Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Is Cesaro Being Served? On Paul Heyman and His Efficacy As a Manager

Has his partnership with Heyman really benefited Cesaro?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Paul Heyman is one of the most eloquent and persuasive voices in wrestling history. His managerial runs are the stuff of legends, whether as the head of the Dangerous Alliance or as the advocate for Brock Lesnar, and he was able to spit hot fire when ECW needed something to get people's attention. Common knowledge would dictate that anyone paired with him ought to get some kind of boost. Yet, Curtis Axel and Ryback both were failed by being represented by Heyman. To be completely fair, neither guy was really booked particularly well. Axel was dead on arrival as soon as he was debuted thanks to being programmed tangentially against Triple H, and Ryback's yo-yo year of start-stop pushes leading into a poorly-understood relationship with Heyman that bordered on homoeroticism (which would be fine if WWE crowds didn't seem to be filled with the kinds of people who'd support measures like Prop 8) led to general malaise towards him that really hasn't dissipated yet.

However, Antonio Cesaro should have been different, or more accurately, he should be different. He's awesome in the ring, has unstated coolness in his body language and facial expressions, and when called upon to talk, he can deliver a decent promo despite the heavy accent, which makes him a prime candidate to have his overall stature elevated by an A-plus talker like Heyman. Yet, whenever I see Cesaro come out nowadays, I can't help but notice two things. First, his reactions are muted to pre-WrestleMania levels, and two, Heyman doesn't really talk about him all that much. The big question is, however, are the two related?

I know the "MY CLIENT BROCK LESNAR" shtick is pretty amusing to a mass majority of the hardcore fan variety (even though I personally find them annoying). Entertainment value is subjective, but what isn't up for debate is how well or little this line of promoing is helping Cesaro get over. A manager is not worth a thing if he or she is not helping enhance the talent that person is paired with, and I can't for the life of me see how talking about Lesnar ending The Streak is in any way, shape, or form helping Cesaro keep his momentum. I don't know whether Heyman has carte blanche to say what he wants and riff as he pleases, or whether Vince McMahon loves the crowd-trolling and is making Heyman repeat it in the same way that he wants JBL to be a confrontational, miserable kiss-ass in the broadcast booth. Either way, it's not helping at all.

Then again, is the problem actually Heyman's shtick, or is it the fact that Cesaro has been paired with Heyman at all and is currently continuing on his path as being a heel? The pop when he won the Andre the Giant Battle Royale was deafening, and his partnership with Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter was fraying at the seams. WWE has this obsession with making long-winded promos the center of attention for wrestlers nowadays; Triple H, Bray Wyatt, John Cena, Stephanie McMahon, Daniel Bryan, and The Shield all get huge chunks of mic time on any given show. However, Cesaro certainly didn't get popular as a face through Zeb Colter's Tea Party characterization. He, like Daniel Bryan, got super popular thanks to the things he did in the ring. And much like Bryan is hurt by opening his mouth and spouting off the typical WWE too-cool-for-school, slightly misogynistic antihero babyface tripe, Cesaro gets hurt by the words said for him by his proxy.

The truth is that Cesaro should never have been paired with a heel manager, not even one as theoretically great as Heyman is. Either Heyman should have turned face (a longshot anyway since he is also the proxy for the most hated man in WWE in the last five years), or he should have gotten another wrestler to help, or in this case ruin, as a "Paul Heyman Guy." Like many wrestlers in WWE right now, Cesaro is in dire need of a reset, and the narrative seems to be hinting at Payback being a place where everyone can collect themselves and move onto something different, hopefully something better. My hope is that WWE realizes this Heyman experiment is only helping one person, two people tops, and neither one is named "Antonio Cesaro" (or just plain old "Cesaro" for those who are anal about what wrestling companies officially call their talent). If by this time next week, Cesaro hasn't turned on Heyman or been turned on by Heyman and is still playing second fiddle to Brock Lesnar being the ONE in 21-and-one, then WWE will have wasted a phenomenal chance to have a new populist hero created in the short term.

And hoo boy, doesn't this company need a hero right about now.