If you heard the name Claudio Castagnoli, you wouldn't think much about it. Obviously it must be tied to someone of European background, but honestly, we wouldn't spend time imagining the person who has that name. But what if we said Claudio Castangoli was someone who has spent the better part of 15 years developing his craft inside and outside the ring? Many fans that follow the WWE may not know that Claudio Castagnoli has gone by various aliases in the past. Today, he is none other than The Swiss Superman, Cesaro.
During his time wrestling in independent promotions, Castagnoli was known for his refined Greco-Roman wrestling style and his ability to captivate an audience due to a diverse skill set and unrelenting attack. He was being noticed and it was only a matter of time before he transitioned from the independents onto a much grander stage. Once the opportunity presented itself, Antonio Cesaro was born.
Castagnoli's career certainly has seen its ups and downs. Much like anyone else's career that undergoes a change, Castagnoli's travels from promotion to promotion throughout his career led him to go to a number of different of places all over the world. Whether it was competing in Europe and Japan, or under a mask, Cesaro really did everything he could to stand out while trying to evolve. Today, the wrestler who is as technically savvy as anyone in the ring has gotten noticed. He is among the most celebrated and liked wrestlers by fans today, and often many ‘Cesaro Section' signs will turn up at events. He was a former champion prior to coming to the WWE and is a celebrated wrestler that many feel should be a champion today. We give you 15 things you need to know about Claudio Castagnoli, better known as Cesaro.
15 Made the Top 15 of the PWI 500 in 2014
One of the most popular publications as it applies to wrestling is Pro Wrestling Illustrated. The publication is famous for providing an annual list of talent that stood head and shoulders above the rest. Their annual PWI 500 ranks the top wrestlers from all over the world. It is not relegated to just those in major promotions, but includes those that are competing actively on the independent circuit as well. In 2014, Cesaro was ranked 13th by the publication. Wrestlers are always very interested in their ranking, especially given how many are considered when the ranking is put together.
14 Feuded With the Son of a WWE Hall of Famer
Many of today's talent on the main roster develop their skills while in the developmental system. In the case of Cesaro, he not only perfected his craft there, he also had a number of matches against different talents. Notably, he had a feud with Richie Steamboat. If the name sounds familiar it should: Steamboat is the son of former Intercontinental champion and WWE Hall of Famer Ricky ‘The Dragon' Steamboat. Steamboat was much greener than Cesaro at the time, but facing someone who had the family lineage that Richie did certainly was notable.
13 Most Underrated Wrestler for 2013 and 2014
Wrestlers often work very hard to earn respect and recognition. That respect and recognition can come from fans, peers or their employer. The problem for Cesaro was that his talent wasn't given its rightful due over the course of a couple of years. He has always been a tremendous wrestler with incredible talent, but hasn't been put in a position to receive acclaim on a grander scale. Over the course of 2013 and 2014, Cesaro was voted the most underrated wrestler by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Seeing how he has been booked, it is very clear why.
12 Co-held the ROH World Tag Titles for a Record Setting 364 Days
Nowadays, when a wrestler holds a title for a prolonged period, we marvel at it. It's quite rare to have a long and illustrious run as any type of champion, but Cesaro co-held the Ring of Honor tag team titles for almost a year. He was a part of The Kings of Wrestling team that was less about being royal and more about simply being elite wrestlers. A year-long reign for nearly any wrestler is unheard of in today's day and age. However, for Cesaro, he managed to not only hold the title, but actively defend it during his tenure.
11 He's A United States Champion
Fans want to have Cesaro hold a championship within the WWE and have a long reign. The strange thing is, early on in his career with the WWE, he actually held a title. As Antonio Cesaro, he held the United States Championship. Whether this was because they love the idea of having someone who's s not American hold the United States title to stick it to the fans isn't clear. It was also at this time he was represented by former WWE Diva Aksana to help build his heat. It seems so long ago now that it's easily forgotten that this actually happened.
10 He's A Former Multi-time Tag Team Champion with a Former NXT Wrestler
As mentioned previously, Cesaro is a former Ring of Honor tag team champion. He did this alongside Chris Hero, who competed in NXT under the name Kassius Ohno. Hero is incredibly talented and offers so much in the way of in-ring work and promo skills that a spot on the main roster seemed inevitable. Unfortunately, for Hero, he was released from the company without getting that spot and now actively competes on the independent circuit. It would be great to one day see both men reunited, as they are so familiar with one another from their time prior to the WWE.
9 Is Currently Involved With Sara Del Rey (NXT Trainer Sara Amato)
Cesaro met Amato during their time together in Ring of Honor. It was during her time actively competing under the name Sara Del Rey that she was aligned with (then) Claudio Castagnoli, who was competing as one half of The Kings of Wrestling tag team. Their relationship wasn't something that was made a focal point at any time during his time in FCW or NXT. Perhaps mention of their relationship is something that could be used down the line as part of a story, but much like a number of relationships, the WWE may not necessarily want it brought to light.
8 Was in NXT Before it was NXT
During his time prior to making the main roster, Antonio Cesaro was an active member of Florida Championship Wrestling. The now defunct promotion is prominent for helping develop several of today's top talents into something greater. Cesaro actually wasn't a part of NXT during the transition between FCW and NXT. He has, however, had several notable matches in NXT, in particular with former NXT champion Sami Zayn. We see what NXT is doing now in developing a number of today's talent, could you imagine Cesaro actively competing for the inaugural NXT title?
7 Teamed With a Former WWE Champion Prior to WWE
It seemed like such a blip on the radar in his career, but before Cesaro was who he is today, Claudio Castagnoli competed with Bruderschaft des Kreuzes for a couple of years. During the 2009 King of Trios, Cesaro teamed with English wrestling legend Dave Taylor, and they allied with Bryan Danielson, now known as Daniel Bryan. Together, they worked as team Team Uppercut. They advanced to the finals of that tournament, but didn't ultimately win. It's incredible how much life has changed for both Bryan and Cesaro since then.
6 First Appeared on Raw as an Officer
This is a reminder of how wrestlers can take on the smallest roles in a company in order to earn a job in the WWE. In 2006, Cesaro signed with the WWE and was used as a character that you would almost never recognize today. During the McMahon's feud with D-Generation X, Cesaro acted as a police officer, along with former WWE NXT talent Michael Bateman, now known as Ethan Carter III in TNA. The police were there to protect Shane McMahon during a particular segment, but this moment didn't turn into anything, as he was later released.
5 Contended for the ROH World Championship
While fans would love to see Cesaro compete for a major title such as the Intercontinental or even the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, there was a time where he competed for a major title in a different promotion. While competing for Ring of Honor, Cesaro was a contender for the Ring of Honor World championship. During the company's Race to the Top Tournament in 2007, Cesaro defeated current NXT talent and former NXT champion Sami Zayn, who was competing under a mask, as El Generico. The winner of that match earned a shot against then champion Takeshi Morishima.
4 Appeared in The Wrestler
Acting and wrestling go hand in hand. For Cesaro, acting isn't just something that he does in the ring while portraying a character, it is also something he has done on the big screen. In 2008, Cesaro appeared in Darren Aronofsky's drama The Wrestler, the film which starred Mickey Rouke and captured the sacrifices made by so many wrestlers in order to prolong their career. It was a dark look at what takes place for a number of athletes as their careers draw to a close. While Cesaro's role wasn't a major one, it certainly happened.
3 Speaks Five Languages
The Swiss Superman can do more than display incredible feats of strength. He is about as well-spoken as anyone in wrestling. In fact, he is so well-spoken, he can engage an audience in several languages. Italian, Swiss, German, English and French are the five different languages he is most fluent in. The Swiss he speaks is called a ‘German-Swiss'. Cesaro is a cunning linguist in multiple languages and his fluency in each has been shown onscreen. He was born in Switzerland and his exposure to various European countries likely led to this impressive knowledge of various languages.
2 Trained and Began his Career in Europe
Wrestlers often earn credibility by training and touring the independent circuit. And Cesaro was no different, with one exception: Cesaro's career began in his native Switzerland. He began to train under the tutelage of SigMasta Rappo and first wrestled in Germany. He was also trained under English wrestling legend Dave Taylor. His moveset is clearly based on fundamental wrestling, with his array of uppercuts and Greco-Roman wrestling. Considering how Cesaro clearly benefited, it would be great to see more promising wrestlers cut their teeth overseas.
1 Competed as Ice Cream?
One of the unique stories about his career is the different personalities or characters he portrayed in his early days as a wrestler. When he returned to the promotion Chikara in 2007, he wrestled under a mask, and competed under the name 'A Very Mysterious Ice-Cream'. It was under that name that he was a part of Los Ice Creams. The team was rather uniquely dressed, with masks that had tips on the top of their heads to resemble the tip of an ice-cream cone. It's remarkable to see where Cesaro has come from then to where he is now.