Monday, March 30, 2015

The 2014 TWB 100 Slow Release: #3

Cesaro made a lot of hay in 2014, even if the booking did him zero favors
Photo Credit:
3. Cesaro
Points: 6598
Ballots: 73
Highest Vote Received: 1st Place (Charles Humphreys, Mike Pankowski, Niel Jacoby, Francis Adu)
Last Year's Placement: 2nd Place

TH: Cesaro was the poster child for booking obscuring sheer results. One thinks that a month such as Cesaro's February could not be forgotten? WWE and Vince "I think Cesaro doesn't connect because millennials or some shit" McMahon took it as a personal challenge to make the audience forget. I'm the biggest proponent of not letting booking obscure results, but I didn't really realize I'd probably underrated Cesaro (and I had him sixth!) until I had already tabulated 20 or so ballots and thought it a pain to revise. The truth is, Cesaro put on a goddamn show any time he was in the ring, whether he was given all the shine in the world in February or he was languishing in jobber roles at the end of the year, being made to enhance everyone but himself. The man hustles like no other, and he stands out whenever the bell rings.

Dave Kincannon: Cesaro is proof that talent can often overcome bad booking. The first few months of 2014 featured Cesaro wrestling brilliantly, and rising in the ranks as part of the Real Americans with Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter. He won the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale by lifting up Big Show and throwing him out of the ring, which still impresses the hell out of me. We thought big things were in store for him, especially when he got Paul Heyman as his new manager. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t turn out as well as most fans would have hoped. He floundered in the middle of the card most of the year, but if he was bothered by his placement, he never let it interfere with his work in the ring. He is a consummate professional, and one of the best wrestlers in the world…I just hope that WWE figures that out soon.

James Girouard: If there's ever been a more criminally overlooked great worker in WWE, it's Cesaro. Rarely does somebody have as many excellent matches as he does with a variety of opponents (Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn, Sheamus) and yet be considered an afterthought.

Frank McCormick: What is there left to say about Cesaro? He's great, he's strong, he's terribly misused. He's a Swiss Superman stuck playing Aquaman. FACT!

Kevin Held: I've said this for the last three years, but if I were to start a wrestling company tomorrow and can only take one guy off the WWE roster, it's Cesaro. He looks like he was carved out of marble, and not in the gross bodybuilder way. He's legitimately one of the strongest human beings I've ever seen and is capable of super impressive feats of said strength. He can legitimately wrestle anybody and make them look like a million bucks. He speaks multiple languages. And, oh yeah, dude can HOSS it up with the best of 'em.

Rene Sanchez: WrestleMania XXX is an all-time favorite of mine and that is not because Daniel Bryan finally got his “WrestleMania moment”, but because Cesaro won the Andre The Giant Battle Royal and thus became the biggest, baddest mid-carder on the block (for that brief moment). Cesaro started 2014 with incredible match after incredible match and proved that he was a true gem inside the ring. Even in the aforementioned Battle Royal, Cesaro scoop slammed Big Show out of the ring the win the match. Who else (besides Brock Lesnar) can do that?! Cesaro can do anything you want in the ring and he will do it with a unique move set that only he possesses in the WWE. Hurry up and push Cesaro already!

Brandon Spears: I don't think I'm being hyperbolic when I state that Cesaro might be the closest thing humanity has to a perfect physical specimen. Okay, maybe a little hyperbolic. Whether it was holding his own against John Cena and Randy Orton on RAW or stealing the show with Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger on Superstars, Cesaro continued to find ways to leave me in complete disbelief and awe over his physical acumen. But it was his match with Sami Zayn at NXT's ArRIVAL (a match that I have now seen over ten times) that gave me no choice but to put him this high up on my list.

Ryan Foster: Sometimes you need to stop worrying about booking and brass rings and just enjoy the wrestling you have in front of you. Cesaro has become easily WWE’s most consistently strong wrestler, delivering quality performances against all types of opponents from the main event all the way down to developmental. Aside from his impressive strength and agility, Cesaro is a master of match pacing and build, and crowds react accordingly. In a year in which the “WWE match” reached a nearly un-watchable level of blandness, Cesaro provided a reason to watch every time he appeared on TV.

Joey O: Stone Cold's favorite underpushed member of the WWE roster delivered every time he stepped in the ring. His Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal should have the been the catalyst for an incredible 2014, but his muddled storylines slowed him down. Also, don't forget that the final chapter of his feud with Sami Zayn took place at NXT ArRIVAL in February of last year.

Nick Ahlhelm: It’s hard to name anyone as consistent in the ring as the man once known as Claudio Castagnoli. His year started out strong before fizzling post-Wrestlemania, but his NXT Arrival opener against Sami Zayn is easily one of the best matches of the entire year. Sadly, he didn’t have the depth and range of matches a lot of folks were allowed on this list, but that doesn’t mean that Cesaro deserves to move past the Vince McMahon characterization of him to a strong spot for years to come.

Mike Pankowski: Cesaro is just the greatest at everything. When he gets more than 5 minutes, the match is usually the match of that night’s show. Hell, he likely is a contender for that title in a match that goes under 3 minutes. His match against Sami Zayn at Arrival was a fantastic cap to that feud. His performance at the Wrestlemania battle royal was one of many joys from that night. And when he gets beat, which was unfortunately far too often in the latter part of the year, he always made his opponent look great in the process. 2014 was Cesaro’s year as the best in the ring.

Niel Jacoby: If the main criterion of this poll is pure in-ring work, Cesaro is the obvious #1 pick. Very few people were as consistent with providing great matches week in, week out. From the beginning of the year when he was facing off with Cena, Orton, and Christian and performing in the Elimination Chamber, to the middle of the year when he performed some of the riskiest stunts in the Money In The Bank match, to the end of the year, where he dragged Ryback to a legitimately good match on RAW.

Brandon Kyla: No one's career path in wrestling makes me angrier than Cesaro's right now. Not that it's any fault of his, but his absurd dip between "Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale winner/Paul Heyman Guy" and "Tag Team Champion" (which didn't even happen in 2014, so, uh) is grossly upsetting for someone who is so unrealistically good at the sport of pro wrestling like Cesaro. Still though, a guy like Cesaro can go through the motions for a year and still come out smelling of roses. Or fine Swiss chocolates. He's that good.

Martin Bentley: The Swiss Superman ran wild in the early part of the year, ruling both the main roster against big names and also in NXT with Sami Zayn. He wins the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, looking very impressive and giving off the impression he could be a future top guy. He's put with the guiding light that is Paul Heyman. And yet the Audience of One is unmoved. But that doesn't matter here, and whether pushed or ignored, Cesaro was one of the most solid workers of the year, and that can't be denied.

Tomorrow, one of the most controversial figures of 2014 is profiled.