Cesaro’s contract with WWE reportedly expired earlier this week; the Swiss Superman is no longer with Vince McMahon’s pro wrestling company.
For Cesaro’s entire 10+ year long run with WWE, he always ranked among the top workers in the company. And for nearly that entire time, he also ranked among the most underutilized wrestlers in WWE. It was only a couple weeks ago that Cesaro lamented his absence from the Royal Rumble match and general lack of opportunities in WWE of late. Perhaps that played a factor in the two sides being unable to reach an agreement on a new deal.
He did find plenty of success in the WWE tag division over the years, but tag team wrestling is barely valued in WWE. More often than not, WWE tag teams primarily exist to be broken up later on, or they exist because Vince McMahon doesn’t know what to do with two singles wrestlers.
Cesaro is an extremely talented performer who should have achieved so much more success as a singles wrestler in WWE. There were several times where he was on the cusp of a meaningful push - eliminating Big Show to win the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, coming off like a top star in a Raw main event opposite John Cena, and more recently when he feuded with Seth Rollins circa WrestleMania 37. The end result was the same in every case - Cesaro was quickly dropped down the card and booked like a mid-card (or worse) jabroni.
It felt like the ceiling on his WWE push was established by the end of 2014, when Vince McMahon harshly criticized his skills on Steve Austin’s podcast. McMahon said Cesaro lacked the charisma, the mic skills, and the “it” to be a bigger star in WWE. McMahon seemed to believe that Cesaro’s Swiss background was a mark against him.
Cesaro responded to McMahon’s silly and foolish words by accepting his challenge to grab the brass ring. And Cesaro continued to prove time and again that McMahon was wrong, and that he ranked among the very best performers in WWE. But it was never going to matter, because Vince McMahon is a stubborn out-of-touch old man who too often has no incentive to change his mind about a wrestler. WWE has so much money coming in on their television, Peacock, and Saudi Arabia deals that McMahon really can just treat the wrestlers as toys in his fantasy land that he can do with as he pleases. And he decided many years ago that Cesaro was never going to be one of his favorite toys to play with.
There are plenty of wrestlers who’ve had it much worse than Cesaro in WWE over the last 10 years, like Ricochet, Mustafa Ali, and Ruby Riott, just to name a few. But that doesn’t change the fact that many of Cesaro’s prime physical years were essentially wasted over the last decade, and he’s now 41 years old.
Unfortunately, nothing has changed about Vince McMahon’s brass rings since CM Punk described them as imaginary in his infamous pipe bomb promo in 2011. Cesaro’s WWE career proves they are every bit as imaginary today as they were back then, and there’s no reason to expect that will change any time soon.