WWE teased us with a swerve on Monday Night Raw this week, pitting Cesaro against Rusev in an impromptu main event match for the WWE United States Championship. For a second, it almost looked like Cesaro’s frustrations about not being drafted as high as he’d expected were about to be set straight with a title victory over one of the company’s fastest-rising stars.
He wouldn’t be so lucky though, as the interference of Sheamus was all Rusev needed to put the match away. Considering Cesaro is one of the most under-utilized, albeit popular wrestlers on the entire WWE payroll, nobody should really be complaining about this week’s Raw main event, but it certainly felt a bit strange if you take into account all the different factors.
Aside from crossing paths in a fatal 4-way match two weeks prior, Cesaro and Rusev hadn’t had any recent contact prior to the bout. They’re also both engaged in rivalries with other guys, Sheamus and Roman Reigns, and had already been featured in segments earlier in the night.
They also didn’t do a fantastic job of hiding the fact that Rusev would be competing, since he came out in his ring gear despite having worn fancy clothing for a wedding memorial with Lana earlier on. That may just be nit-picking, but it added to the overall randomness of the segment.
Regardless, the “how” they did it isn’t nearly as significant as the “why” they did it.
There are a number of ways you can look at why they went ahead with the segment. For one, the match proved that anything can happen on Raw and that the simplest of promos between two general managers can turn into a championship match in the blink of an eye. It also proved what Mick Foley said before the brand extension even got underway completely – Raw is about the wrestlers in the ring, and not about the management.
The second it looked like we were going to see the same drama between Foley and Daniel Bryan that we were essentially promised we weren’t going to get, we were gifted with a riveting title match immediately afterwards. If we can expect to see moments like that every time someone like Stephanie McMahon steps foot in the ring, I doubt anyone will be upset with the compromise.
The most likely reason for throwing the match together, however, was to prove one thing: Cesaro is more than capable of holding his own as a top-tier babyface.
If that is the case, then they’ve got their answer, because the fans took to that match like moths to a flame. All the talk about “reaching for the brass ring” that Vince McMahon got into with Cesaro before is essentially null and void at this stage. The man competed in the main event for the only active singles championship on the roster, and the fans absolutely loved it.
Even if he was just given the match as a way of humoring him for feeling overlooked, he still shined extremely bright and that kind of ability, and popularity to boot, can’t go unnoticed.
You’re obviously not going to see them change the line-up at SummerSlam to fit him into the main event, but now that we’ve established that Cesaro is a welcome feature at the top, there’s no reason he shouldn’t expect another title opportunity, and potential victory, before the end of the year.
Take away the suit, the tie, the sunglasses and the five languages, and what you have at the core is a professional wrestler through and through. You could argue that nothing would cement this as a new era in WWE more than if an old school pro wrestler in Cesaro was rewarded for his hard work with a lengthy run in the title picture.
And even with the brand extension in firm place, that doesn’t mean he needs to find that success on Raw either. Daniel Bryan showed a lot of interest in Cesaro prior to the match, which could be planting the seeds for a trade. Regardless of what color Cesaro is sporting though, he’s shown himself to be a top contender for any title that the WWE has to offer, and if the WWE realizes the talent at their disposal, he could find himself back in a championship match before the year is out.