Antonio Cesaro Can Make The U.S. Title Matter Again, But Not By Simply Wearing It
WWE has proven they have little to no interests in making any of their championships mean anything at all, save for the WWE Title. The Tag Team Titles are rarely defended, and when they are it’s typically against a cobbled together pairing of singles wrestlers rather than a legitimate tag team. Truth be told, the current Tag Team Champions aren’t even a legitimate tag combination. The World Title is currently being carried around by a guy to whom the fans are largely indifferent, despite WWE’s best efforts to change our minds. Personally, I think Sheamus is much better off working heel, but that’s a topic for another time. Cody Rhodes did everything he could to make the Intercontinental Title relevant again, only to have it handed over to Big Show and made instantly worthless. Miz has been great since his return and subsequent win over Christian for the IC Title, but he’s been beaten with regularity, including this past Monday in a tag match with the current United States Champion, Antonio Cesaro.
Rather than just have Antonio Cesaro walk around with a relatively meaningless Championship around his waist and the foxy Aksana on his arm, my hope is that WWE will instead try and shine some light on both the man and the U.S. Title. My worry, however, is that simply defending the title isn’t going to be enough, as WWE has done far too little to make it a championship worth holding. Where the U.S. Championship was once a clear cut ladder rung below the World Title, and was carried with honor by the likes of Harley Race, Ric Flair, Barry Windham, and Booker T, is has mostly been allowed to devolve into something that gets put on a wrestler to get some cheap attention. Don’t have anything for Jack Swagger or Matt Hardy or R-Truth, just put the a belt on ‘em and see what happens. That’s lazy booking, simple as that.
Why not color outside the lines a little with Cesaro and have him do something like play off his European roots, maybe have him trash the U.S. Title in favor of a resurrected European Championship? Not only would tossing the U.S. Title get Cesaro some instant heat with fans, it would, at the very same time, bring some much needed attention to the title, making it a focal point once again. Making a title relevant again by trashing it? Yes, that's what I said. It's playing off basic human emotion. You take something from someone, even if it had little to no importance to them, most of the time they'll find some way to build it up in their mind as having some immense importance. As a matter of fact, several months down the road after Cesaro had established his European Title run, you could even take it a step further and bring back Jack Swagger and his “All-American, American” gimmick, this time working as a babyface, to unseat Cesaro as champ and do away with the European Championship, returning the U.S. Title to prominence. It’s a simple story, and it would work. In one fell swoop, you could boost Antonio Cesaro to the next level, reintroduce Jack Swagger to the audience (something he desperately needs) and add some serious interest to a championship other than the WWE Title.
Cesaro is a star, that should not be in dispute. Were he given the opportunity to actually be a regularly featured Main Event player, I have little doubt he could undo much of the damage Santino Marella’s reign did to the US Title. The question becomes whether or not WWE is going to showcase anyone other than the same half dozen people they’ve been showcasing for the last several years. They’ve proven they’re more than willing to put a title belt on just about anyone, but after that, WWE has made a bad habit of just letting them twist in the wind. For whatever reason, WWE has just decided to use most of their championships as quick fixes, rather than as payoffs to well-written storylines. I’d say it’s a sign of the times, that people don’t have the same sort of attention span they once did, but TNA is proving that theory wrong with the excellent Bobby Roode-James Storm story, a feud that’s been going on for close to a year.
CM Punk, John Cena, Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan are all over like rover and in their collective prime. There's no reason, with some attention and a little time, Antonio Cesaro can't be standing right alongside them at the top of the WWE food chain. He's doing his part and then some. Now, it comes down to WWE committing to him and giving Cesaro the airtime and storyline needed to take his talents to the next level.