Creative Control: Swiss Heel (Cesaro, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Rey Mysterio)

A colleague of mine enjoys February.  He finds it psychologically reassuring that it is close to March, which means spring is right around the corner.  Living here on the east coast and having received about 20 inches of snow in the last two weeks, I am at the point where I doubt spring is coming.  I do not have a driveway.  It more resembles a bobsled track as there is a narrow pathway squeezed between two long mountains of snow and ice.  And when the wind hits just right, it can knock you off your feet, after it has chilled the bones.  So, time to get lost in the world of staged fighting to take my mind off the bitter cold.

Second Thoughts:
It was an interesting bag of comments from my column last week where I looked to address the issues of the CM Punk chants and a way for the WWE to address them without burning bridges with the real life Mr. Brooks.  Walter Kovacks looked at turning the loose association of rebels and backers into a legitimate stable, adding the likes of Zack Ryder, Dolph Ziggler, and even Roman Reigns.  I do not think Reigns is a good choice, he is obviously tapped for one hell of a push and it the prototype for the WWE look (long as he is not pushed down our throats in the way The Prototype was).  He summed it up best the motivation for Zayn and Hero being part of the “cult of personality” in that the WWE brought them in, stripped them of everything that made them unique, then either buries or cuts them because creative cannot come up with anything for the now neutered and generic personalities.

So far, my concerns about fans overpowering the shows with their CM Punk chants has not come to pass as neither Omaha nor Los Angeles were all that impressive.  We all know the March 6th show in Chicago will be another story.  It will be interesting how things play out in the audiences before and after.

There was also some commentary on my Shakespeare piece from the incomparable and creative Steven Gepp.  Mr. Gepp does not feel Romeo and Juliet is the most appropriate piece to set in a wrestling backdrop.  He also expressed a desire not to be the only commentator and just be negative.  Mr. Gepp, you should know there is a difference between criticism and negativity.  You sir, were critical, which I appreciated and enjoyed your insights and opinions.

On the other hand, I received a collection of negative comments that boiled down to “you suck, no one gives a crap about your markish opinion, so why don’t you quit.”  After doing this column for about three months, I apparently have hit the point where the trolls come out and try to run me out of town because they have nothing better to do.  I appreciated Jabalar’s response to one commenter who appeared to just take the effort to scroll down and comment about how much I suck and no one reads me.  As for being called a “mark,” it really is the equivalent in the “intellectual wrestling community” of the Hitler Argument.  For those who are not familiar with the term, when two parties are rabidly debating opposing viewpoints on a topic, there will come a point where one side will accuse the other of being like Hitler/The Nazis.  It is meant to be an argument ender and an effort to invalidate the thoughts and opinion of the opposing side because after all, who in their right mind would listen to Hitler.  In the same vein, calling someone a mark on a professional wrestling website is meant to invalidate their thoughts and opinions because they are just some pathetic fanboy who has no clue about “the industry.”

I freely admit that I am a mark.  But so is each and every person who is on this website either as a reader or contributor.  Being a mark means you are a fan.  Certain people have tried to co-opt the outdated lingo of professional wrestling to create a hierarchy of fandom and establish “smart” fans as superior to “marks.”  This distinction is meaningless in this day and age.  Just about every person alive today knows that professional wrestling is scripted entertainment.  Even the WWE itself has all but eliminated “kayfabe” with shows like “Total Divas” and “Tough Enough.”  The documentaries of the DVD line over the last several years have also pulled back the curtain to highlight the men behind the characters in the ring.  At the end of the day, if you are a fan of professional wrestling, you are a mark.  The same way you are a mark for any other television program or your favorite sports team.

You disagree with what I write tell me what you do not like.  If you do not like reading fantasy booking, then do not read my column.  I made clear when I started writing it and in the column’s name and teasers that the focus here is fantasy booking, which emphasizes looking at things from a storytelling narrative.  If you think you could do a better job as a writer, have the intestinal fortitude to contact CB and pitch a column.  I freely admit last week’s column was not one of my better ones either in idea or execution.  Try coming up with something new and different to talk about every week that is not just a variation of recapping the shows.  Sometimes inspiration flows faster than my fingers type, other times it is a struggle to just come up with a topic.

If you are just commenting “you suck you dumb mark,” with an anonymous handle on a professional wrestling site in the hopes of hurting someone’s feelings, is that really the highlight of your day/life?  If so, more power to you.  I’ll just continue to enjoy my career, my spouse, and my multitude of hobbies; one of which happens to be writing about professional wrestling.

Underhanded Swiss Craftsmanship
Over the past few months, there has been a growing reaction of fan appreciation for the man we are told will now be known only as Cesaro.  With the introduction of his crowd pleasing Giant Swing, the cheers for the Swiss superstar have been growing.  A case could be made that it is time for Cesaro to break from The Real Americans and move off on his own as a babyface.

It has been a struggle for Cesaro to find a place in the WWE.  He was first introduced as generic foreign heel #47 that showed off his superiority to Americans through his ability to speak five languages and his physique.  He was given a quick push to a mid-card title (I cannot remember if it was Intercontinental or U.S.).  Then he was saddled with a yodeling gimmick, which fortunately did not last too long.  His pairing with Jack Swagger was a little bizarre, but helped reinforce Zeb Coulter’s hypocrisy and xenophobia by relying on a foreign-born individual to represent his narrow-minded “real American” (i.e. white) ideals.  The teaming has worked however as it allowed to hide Swagger’s limitations while giving Cesaro a regular platform to show off his impressive move set, including his flying European uppercut and his Neutralizer finisher.

With the growing cheers for him, one would think that now is the time to push him as a face.  The logical path would be for him to feud with Swagger briefly to dissolve the Real Americans and then start on a campaign against various heels, establishing his now fan friendly attitude.

Looking at the current WWE roster, there is a significant dearth of heels that fans boo because of the characters.  The heels who get a negative reaction are those fans are sick of seeing (such as Orton).  Others get at most a tepid response and are booed because they are going against a face (such as Ryback or Curtis Axel).  Some of their best heels are unfortunately getting face reactions (see The Wyatt Family), due in part to the problem that people are sick of the faces they are feuding with (like the apparent upcoming feud with John Cena) and that they have a unique look/moveset that stands out from the very homogenized product that has been WWE development for the past several years.  Cesaro is in this last vein as reflected by his cheers in the tag match against Sheamus and Christian last week on Raw and his match against Orton on Smackdown.

What this shows is the WWE is lacking an ability to create characters that people care about both as heroes and as villains.  When the primary motivator for rooting against someone is apathy, you are doing something wrong.  Therefore, the WWE needs more heels that are talented, charismatic, and engaging competition for their most over faces.  Cesaro should be one of those heels. The question is how does he maintain the ire of the crowd when all signs indicate they want to cheer him?

The obvious answer is put him up against the most over faces on the roster and establish him as the type of heel who will climb over anyone and everyone in his quest to be champion.  It can start at Elimination Chamber.  Cesaro should be the one to eliminate Daniel Bryan.  He should interrupt Bryan’s pin attempt on Orton and then deliver the Neutralizer, eliminating Bryan.  The next night on Raw, he breaks off from The Real Americans, declaring his time done with them as he’s tired of carrying Swagger and listening to Coulter’s nonsensical rantings.  He can point out despite being together for months, they have really accomplished nothing.  However, in the past two weeks when Cearo has been alone, he defeated the WWE Champion and eliminated the most popular wrestler in Daniel Bryan from the Chamber.  He also points out Swagger’s inability to bet Big E. Langston for the Intercontinental Title at the pay-per-view.  Swagger and Coulter challenge him to a match, but Cesaro instead walks away, refusing to acknowledge them worth the effort.  That night, Swagger faces Rey Mysterio and loses.  After the match, Cesaro attacks Mysterio backstage, making a point that he is better alone then with Swagger and Coulter.  This sets up a Wrestlemania program where Cesaro comes out victorious over a universally cheered face.

From there, he moves into a program with Dolph Ziggler.  It should be a back and forth feud with the goal of putting both over and centered on the egos of the two men.  Ziggler wanting to show off and impress the fans, while Cesaro only cares about thoroughly beating and humiliating his opponent and continue on his quest to be the best.  Again, the point is to pair Cesaro with a beloved face and will get the legitimate heel heat for beating on and defeating a popular wrestler.   This could lead to a program against Big E. Langston (another face people are into), where Cesaro looks to demonstrate his superior strength against one of the biggest men on the roster.

Cesaro’s attitude is clear indifference for those around him.  He should walk away from some matches where he feels the opponent is beneath him.  When he does this, it should never appear like he is intimidated.  In the ring, he should taunt fans by setting up, but refusing to perform the Swing, except on pay-per-views.  In his promos, he should make frequent reference to his victory over Bryan at the Elimination Chamber.  While Bryan will make repeated efforts to challenge him in a match, Cesaro always turns him down, feeling he has nothing to prove by beating Bryan again.  Until Bryan is WWE Champion and then this leads to a title program where the restrictions are taken off and the two are allowed to go all out.  Cesaro should be the character who does nothing unless it provides him a direct benefit.  When he does act, nothing is off limits as it is in his interest to come out on top.

I find Cesaro’s overall look and moveset, with the exception of the Swing, are better suited to a heel.  I fear that if the WWE decides to make him a face, he will be turned into John Cena III (or Sheamus II).  He will always have a smile, love children, and give out Swiss chocolates as he makes his way to the ring.  They may saddle him with a midget in Swiss Miss pigtails, or put Horswoggle in lederhosen.  They would come up with some goofy set-up before he starts doing the Swing (such as the yodel again).  His promos will include the standard set of weak taunts and excrement jokes.  In other words, he will become a neutered face that people get tired of and will look for another heel to start cheering because they are impressed with his unique appearance and moveset, and the cycle repeats.

By having a collection of heels that can generate real heat for their characters and be amongst the most talented on the roster, the programs will be better.  Storylines can be stronger and more dynamic as fans not only cheer the face because they love him, but because they want to see the heel lose.  Cesaro is one of those types that fits the bill of being a great heel.  Is it possible for him to be turned face? Of course, but I think at this time, the WWE needs his villainy more.

Until next time, I relinquish creative control.

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