Cesaro has become a great story of a substitute evolving into a superstar.
The company never intended for him to get as far as he has. He was signed to a development deal during a time when WWE needed a “sure thing.” It needed someone who could quickly get to the main roster to fill a spot.
Cesaro needed to be reliable — nothing more — to help build the stable of future, homegrown WWE stars.
Edge had to retire suddenly because of an injury after “WrestleMania 28.” Husky Harris and Skip Sheffield were injured and had yet to be “packaged” into Bray Wyatt or Ryback. Wade Barrett was floundering in his post-Nexus days and also suffered an injury. Chris Jericho was off being a rock star.
WWE didn’t care about Cesaro’s success before joining. The company isn’t concerned with what you do until you’re under its watch and on its payroll.
Contrary to what some think, WWE chairman Vince McMahon really isn’t involved in signing big-name independent talents. He doesn’t keep up with who is the standout performer every Saturday night in small venues around the country in front of 300 fans. Once a wrestler makes the main roster, then he’s on McMahon’s radar.
When Antonio Cesaro first joined the main roster, McMahon had some questions — just like he did during his early relationships with Daniel Bryan or CM Punk. He just couldn’t relate to them personally.
With Punk, Vince wondered how anybody could believe this scrawny, tattooed guy could beat someone. Plus, why doesn’t he drink? And what in the world is an Anaconda Vise?
With Bryan, Vince didn’t get how he didn’t eat meat or own a television.
Cesaro’s ability to speak several languages, or that he wrestled in dozens of countries, didn’t impress McMahon like it did others. McMahon also didn’t think the first name “Antonio” sounded tough enough, so he got rid of it. I’d hate to think what he would have thought of “Claudio.”
The two eventually bonded over a love of fitness. Cesaro eventually got over with the McMahons. He got over even quicker with Triple H.
Had he not, he could have been detoured into a comedy filler role — something in which he speaks one of his five languages to a Diva and it’s translated into a bad pickup line. You laugh, but you know it’s true.