Superstar Spotlight: Antonio Cesaro & Damian Sandow

michael dworkis debuts a new wrestling column for Pop-Break.com…

Editor’s Intro: Before Pop-Break.com had started covering wrestling full-time, I, a die-hard fan of the WWE, had lost touch with it. So when Michael Dworkis starting reviewing Monday Night RAW for us, I found myself back watching the program on the regular.

After two weeks of watching, I e-mailed Mike and said “Who the hell are half of these guys?” So Mike and I came up with an idea — let’s write about the new influx of talent in the WWE on a weekly basis and give thoughts on where we think they’re going. This way if you’re long-removed from RAW watching, you can easily catch up on all the new faces. Enjoy! –Bill Bodkin

Antonio Cesaro

Background Check: Cesaro has been around for longer than you think. Does the name Claudio Castagnoli sound familiar to you? It should. He has wrestled all over the world, most notably in the Chikara promotion, and in the states, competed in Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) and Ring of Honor (ROH). In both promotions Castagnoli held multiple titles and is a savvy ring-veteran with superb technical skills.

A member of the Kings of Wrestling stable, he and Chris Hero held numerous Tag Team Titles, even holding the Chikara, CZW, and ROH titles simultaneous. Competing all over the world from 2000 to 2011, it was only a matter of time for WWE to knock on his door. In 2011, Castagnoli went to the developmental territory of Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) and began his climb towards becoming a WWE Superstar. In 2012, he came, he saw, he became United States Champion.

Current Status: WWE United States Champion
As Antonio Cesaro, he is a loudmouth and downright nasty towards American fans. Boasting to speak multiple languages, he often holds his head up, snubbing us low-class fans. Seems like a typical foreigner gimmick from the 80’s and 90’s. “America Sucks!” The truth is, he does speak four languages, and the gimmick that he is a former Swiss militiaman-turned-rugby-player-turned-wrestler is based on his history, having trained in a wrestling camp in Switzerland. Having been kept to SmackDown for about a year, he now defends the championship on Raw, and now sees the exposure he needs in order to get over as a major star in the company.

Cesaro has great mat skills, and while WWE fans have yet to see it, wrestling fans of all promotions have likely seen his incredible suplex-based and submission style wrestling. The guy is incredible. However, WWE slowly builds their stars into the main eventers they should be. Not everyone is so fortunate. Unfortunately, I do not see Cesaro really breaking into main events or WWE Championship bouts anytime soon. There are too many new talented stars in WWE and I have a feeling Cesaro might have to wait his turn a few years before main eventing a PPV. This is not a bad thing, and a perfect example of someone who had to really struggle before headlining… Dolph Ziggler. It is a tough call.

Future Outlook: Second Tier Titleholder

Damien Sandow

Background Check: The Intellectual Savior of the Masses began his career as Idol Stevens in 2001. Having trained under Killer Kowalski, Damien Sandow should have been destined for WWE right away. However, it was a long and chaotic road. One might suppose it was fitting that Aaron Steven Haddad began his wrestling career in a promotion called Chaotic Wrestling.

As Idol Stevens, he competed there for just a couple of years before getting called to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), once a training ground for WWE. Having a few successful try-out matches on the now-defunct Sunday program Heat, he was integrated in the OVW roster as Aaron “The Idol” Stevens. In a few years he would go on to win both the OVW Tag Team Titles and the OVW Television Title.

In 2006, he was brought up to the SmackDown roster with tag partner KC James, managed by Michelle McCool. The duo saw short success on SmackDown, however always came up short in Tag Team Title matches. The team lasted less than a year as McCool got injured, and as a result, management felt their run on SmackDown had come to an end. Stevens found himself back in OVW for the rest of 2007 and into 2008, where he appeared on the new ECW brand as a jobber. In 2009, he finished wrestling for OVW just as the promotion was no longer being associated with WWE.

In 2010, Stevens went to Puerto Rico and found immediate success, winning numerous championships in the World Wrestling Council promotion. However his absence from WWE cut short, as he was offered a new contract and immediately reported to the new training camp in WWE known as Florida Championship Wrestling, which is now the home of the NXT Brand.

Current Status: Tag Team Main Eventer
Under the name Damien Sandow, he spent some time finding the right gimmick, and quickly adapted a cocky, arrogant, and snobbish persona, belittling all those intellectually beneath him. After another year winning both Tag Team Championships and the FCW 15 Title, Sandow was called back to the main roster, appearing on SmackDown. Through taunting promos both in and out of the ring, Sandow easily earned the ire and disdain of live audiences. Despite his obvious anti-fan-favorite behavior, there are those to applauded his creative promos which concluded with “You’re Welcome.”

Sandow is awesome on the mic and even better in the ring. While not yet a singles titleholder, he will easily achieve that in 2013. His gimmick is reminiscent of The Genius or Mr. Perfect. Both cocky, arrogant, and displaying both the creative mind and athletic ability to tell a story in the wrestling ring. Sandow is a hot commodity in WWE, and I see big things for Sandow this year.

Future Outlook: Future Main Eventer / WWE or World Champion