After eleven years working for WWE, Cesaro’s contract with the company has expired. A beloved fan favourite for years, his name has become synonymous with being underappreciated and underrated by the WWE. With Cesaro having previously impressed in companies such as ROH and PWG under his real name Claudio Castagnoli, his return to the Independents means a whole range of possible opponents for him to face.
There are several wrestlers that Cesaro could have awesome matches with that he’s faced before, such as PAC, the Young Bucks, the Revival, Kenny Omega, and of course, Eddie Kingston. Here are five wrestlers he’s yet to face that could help remind audiences of what a talent he truly is.
1. Josh Alexander
First coming to major prominence in 2018, when he and partner Ethan Page joined Impact Wrestling as The North, Alexander has gone on to become one of the MVPs of Impact Wrestling. First impressing as Tag Team Champions, becoming the longest reigning in the process with 380 days, Page’s decision to leave Impact offered Alexander the opportunity to breakout as a singles star. His 151-day reign as X-Division Champion included excellent defences in Iron Man matches and Ultimate X matches, before cashing in Option C for an Impact World Title shot against Christian Cage.
Despite successfully beating Christian, Alexander would be defeated by Moose in the same night and then eventually disappeared from television, seemingly due to his work visa and contract expiring. Whether a legitimate issue or a storyline, Alexander’s hybrid style of strength, technical submission and high flying makes him similar to Cesaro, almost in a “how Cesaro should have been booked” scenario. If Alexander is able to get his visa sorted, seeing these two men either as a tag team or better yet, opponents, could be an unexpected classic, especially if given time and freedom.
2. Darby Allin
Some of Cesaro’s best work was in the series of matches against NXT beloved Sami Zayn, mixing Cesaro’s physicality with Sami’s lightness and selling ability, culminating in an excellent Two out of Three Falls match. Unsurprisingly, WWE never really capitalised on Cesaro’s work in this match, but it did offer an insight into the sort of opponents he battled best with. In the years since, Darby Allin has grown into an AEW beloved, his babyface fire combined with his willingness to put his body on the line endearing him to audiences. Some of the bumps Allin has taken in matches against Brian Cage, Ethan Page and others are enough to make audiences flinch.
With that in mind, imagine the absolute carnage that Cesaro could demonstrate if you pair his physicality and unparalleled strength with Allin’s drive and flexibility. A feud between the two could include tremendous babyface material from Darby, and Cesaro could reinvent himself as one of the most vicious heels on the planet. Also, I kind of just want to see Cesaro throw Allin ten feet in the air and give him the ultimate European Uppercut.
3. Tomohiro Ishii
Before becoming an awesome tag team, Cesaro and Sheamus spent a series of matches beating the absolute hell out of one another. With both men known for their physical and hard hitting style, they brought the best out of each other during their series. After Sheamus’ hiatus to deal with injuries, Cesaro featured in matches with Aleister Black, continuing those physical battles, and has demonstrated his real life toughness when he lost his two front teeth in a freak accident during a wrestling match. Despite the blood pouring out of his mouth, Cesaro continued to wrestle with grim determination.
Sometimes in wrestling, you just want to see two tough badass wrestlers batter each other, ala Strong Style on the King’s Road, or WALTER against Ilja Dragunov. Bearing that in mind, the ‘Stone Pitbull’ and ‘The Swiss Cyborg’ have the air of that classic line, “The Unstoppable Force Meets The Immovable Object”, two physically dominating forces of nature who are legitimately tough. Seeing these two exchanging forearms and uppercuts in an attempt to knock one another out is an image I am desperate to see, but more than that, it could offer Cesaro an opportunity to impress in New Japan.
4. ‘Hangman’ Adam Page
A possibly surprising choice, ‘Hangman’ Adam Page’s current reign as the AEW World Champion has subtly been continuing Page’s development. Whereas defeating Omega was more about having the confidence to vanquish his doubts and become champion, his title defences so far have been about coming to terms with his new position in life. His draw with Bryan Danielson was Page taking the worst from one of the best wrestlers in the world, before going on to win with confidence and belief, proving himself the better of both Omega and Danielson. His war with Lance Archer was showing his ingenuity (look at the finish for instance) and toughness against a monster, and his match with Adam Cole will have a similar importance for Page’s journey. Each title defence has a different purpose, but what purpose could facing Cesaro represent?
Similar to both Darby Allin and Sami Zayn, Page has developed an authentic connection with the AEW audience, who believe in him and want to see Page succeed. Considering the tremendous work Cesaro demonstrated in his battles with Zayn, or John Cena’s successful title defence as U.S. Champion, imagine a rampant AEW audience witnessing their hero battling back against Cesaro. Even if it’s just for a brief period that Cesaro works for AEW, this could be a possible match of the year contender.
5. Kazuchika Okada
Is it likely? Uncertain, as travel between countries is still wary. However, if there’s one country and style that Cesaro perfectly fits, it’s Japanese Strong Style. Okada is unquestionably one of the best wrestlers in the world, and his history has demonstrated his ability to have great matches with a variety of wrestlers and styles. Some of his surprisingly best performances from his record breaking 720 day title reign have included classic babyface fighting from underneath against the evil Minoru Suzuki, there’s the physical strikes and submissions with Katsuyori Shibata, the technical mastery of Zack Sabre Jr, and of course, the legendary works with Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kenny Omega.
In Cesaro, you have the perfect blend of wrestler, who can not only match the physicality of Shibata but combined with unparalleled strength and an intelligence ala Omega and Suzuki, putting Okada in a position of danger he hasn’t faced in a while. Considering the success that AJ Styles had after leaving TNA and moving to NJPW, Cesaro has the potential to do the same, and what’s more, it offers him the chance to prove what many fans have been saying for years, that he could be a main eventer.
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