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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: Every Cesaro Singles Match in 2015

January 4, 2016 | Posted by TJ Hawke
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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: Every Cesaro Singles Match in 2015  

So, Cesaro is clearly one of the very best wrestlers in the world. While I am not a fan of WWE television, I realized I was missing out on too much Cesaro goodness. Thus, I set out to watch every single non-tag match he had this year.

M93kX5v9An article this important required original arts from The King of Arts, @ilyassking1.


February 2, 2015

Cesaro (w/ Tyson Kidd & Natalya) vs. Jimmy Uso (w/ Jey Uso & Naomi)

For a short television match, this was very awkward. They worked in a number of cool spots to be sure, but there was zero rhythm or flow to the match. It seems like these two could have a very strong match given that Cesaro is a great base, and Jimmy does a number of high spots.

The finish was a bit clunky on top of the awkwardness during the match. It looked like Jimmy would win after Cesaro got distracted. Then Jimmy got distracted right before he dived into an uppercut. This match was not impressive at all. (**)


Main Event
February 14, 2015

Cesaro vs. Sin Cara

This match got a lot of hype at the time. It’s not surprising since the match is about Cesaro making a small, flippy-ish guy look great. That might be Cesaro’s biggest talent (or at least the thing he has been great at for the longest time). It is also a dynamic that WWE has not taken advantage of nearly enough.

In an unusual move for a WWE match, Cesaro decided to target the left arm. That obviously makes for a more interesting heat segment than most WWE matches, because it opens up a number of opportunities for cool finishes and payoffs to that work. Sin Cara did not do a great job of selling his arm afterwards mind you. However, he did start tearing at Cesaro’s left arm during him comeback as a revenge. That was better than nothing.

While they did not pay off the arm work in a meaningful or satisfying way, they did work in a number of strong spots and sequences. Cesaro made Sin Cara II seem more exciting than I have ever seen him look before. Cesaro has a knack for that. Cesaro ended up winning though after catching him with an uppercut and then the Neutralyzer. Good stuff (if a bit overrated by some). (***1/4)


Main Event
February 21, 2015

Cesaro (w/ Tyson Kidd & Natalya) vs. Jack Swagger

JBL quotes Donald Rumsfield early on without irony in case you’re wondering about the quality of his character. It was also the only notable thing to happen in this first two-thirds of the match. Things picked up a bit towards the end, but I was so distracted by how terrible Jack Swagger was as a babyface that I could not get invested in his comeback. He has a lot of trouble conveying passion, and it is beyond ridiculous that anyone in the company would think him being a babyface is a good idea. A lot of his movements are so awkward and forced too. It’s really quite bad. Anyway, a Tyson Kidd distraction allowed Cesaro to give Swagger the Neutralyzer for the win. Swagger ruined any chance of this match being good. (*3/4)


March 26, 2015

Cesaro (w/ Tyson Kidd & Natalya) vs. Fernando (w/ Diego & the bull) vs. Big E. (w/ Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. Jimmy Uso (w/ Jey Uso & Naomi)

This was a surprisingly ambitious match with them all working hard and jamming in quite a few spots in this five-minute match. Jimmy won this fun contest with a Superfly Splash on Cesaro. (***)


April 23, 2015

Cesaro (w/ Tyson Kidd) vs. Kofi Kingston (w/ Big E. & Xavier Woods)

This was just a short, storyline-continuing match. After an issue on the floor with the back-ups, Kofi caught Cesaro with a Trouble in Paradise to end this in ninety seconds.


May 11, 2015

Cesaro (w/ Tyson Kidd) vs. Big E. (w/ Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston)

These two tried to make the most of their five minutes, but doing such a short match in the traditional WWE style does no one any favors. It is just too 50/50 for such a short match. The highlight ended up by far being Michael Cole definitively confusing Xavier and Kofi when they got involved in a scuffle with Tyson on the floor. That distraction allowed Cesaro to win with a pinning combo. (**)


We now enter the month-long stretch that inspired me to want to watch every Cesaro singles performance from the year.


June 18, 2015

Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens

You really see a clear difference between Cesaro in this match and the Cesaro we have seen thus far in 2015 singles performances. He busts out a tope suicida (that he nearly kills himself on), the running uppercut on the floor, and even the Alpamari Waterslide. This really was the Cesaro showcase, as Owens did not get a lot of offense in. Owens also looked sluggish here, as he was a step slow on everything. He ended up winning though with the pop-up powerbomb. This was honestly a bit of a disappointment. (**1/2)


June 19, 2015

Cesaro vs. Bo Dallas

Matches like this perfectly illustrate why using the WWE style for short matches does no one any favors. How does it benefit the company to make Bo Dallas look competitive with Cesaro, only to lose in five minutes. Dallas looks weak for losing, and Cesaro looks weak for letting him get so much in. Cesaro won with the sharpshooter here, which he started using after Kidd went down with an injury. (**)


June 25, 2015

Cesaro vs. Luke Harper

As much as I shit on WWE doing short matches for television, I cannot deny that this match worked really well despite being a six-minute match on Superstars. These two know how to jam in enough action to keep you glued to the screen. They also told a solid story of Harper having control of the match, and Cesaro needing his new pinning combo to steal the match. Nothing was settled between these two, but it was executed in a way where you would want to see a rematch. (***1/2)


Main Event
June 26, 2015

Cesaro vs. Luke Harper

This was another good match between the two even if it sort of turned into an extended squash for Harper. They played off some spots from the first match though. I really like how Harper won on the discus lariat right after he poked him in the eye, as the eye-poke is how he cut Cesaro off in the match the night before. This was good, but they can do better. (***)


June 29, 2015

John Cena(c) vs. Cesaro [United States Championship]

This match was both a showcase for Cesaro’s potential as a main-eventer and Cena’s ability to make talented heels look like stars. Unlike so many heels in the WWE today, Cesaro really knows how to keep control segments fun and interesting. Doing simple spots like the standing double stomp really are just so much better than your garden-variety stuff in a WWE heat segment. Cena was pretty much equally great here, as he did not just run through his movez like he does in typical television matches with wrestlers much lower on the totem pole. Cesaro also was basically manhandling Cena towards the end, and he had him on the brink of defeat until Kevin Owens interfered. This was the very rare case of a nonsense finish not bothering me as it was logical for Owens to not want Cena to lose to someone other than himself, and it gives Cesaro an easy justification for a rematch. If you watch this match and do not think Cesaro is capable of being a main-eventer in the WWE, you are blind. This was a great match. (****1/4)


July 6, 2015

John Cena(c) vs. Cesaro [United States Championship]

Cena was about to have a match with Kevin Owens, but Cesaro came out to demand a Cena rematch after what happened on 6/29. In what is incredibly rare for the WWE, these two just went out and worked a thirty minute match to close out the show.

This was an incredibly ambitious follow-up to their match the week before. Unfortunately, they basically tried to super-size that match and predictably got lesser returns. The good news coming out of this match is that Cesaro really got to take most of it and seemed to truly be Cena’s in-ring equal as a result.

It is nonetheless weird though for him to fall short of defeating Cena after having him on the ropes the week before. It seems like that should have been reversed so he got closer to beating  Cena the second time.

The other issue with this match is the pacing. They really started going to the big stuff a bit early, and the match had some awkward lulls in the second half as a result. This kind of match really could have used some more momentum down the stretch so it felt like it was steadily getting more and more dramatic. This kind of felt like it petered out.  Anyway, this was obviously a “good” match at the very least. I just don’t see it being on the level of the previous match between them at all. (***1/2)


Main Event
July 10, 2015

Cesaro vs. Luke Harper

This was a very cool match and way different than your standard WWE fare. For starters, the match had Cesaro, a big guy, working very “small” with dives and springboard moves. He was not just relying on that though, as he would sporadically go after the left leg of Harper throughout the match. He had to do that because Harper was controlling the majority of the match. Harper controlled the match by just generally being the much bigger guy and also targeting Cesaro’s left arm on occasion. Luckily for Cesaro, Harper was not relentless with the arm work and that probably saved Cesaro. Cesaro, in turn, became much more focused on Harper’s left leg towards the end, and he was able to get the Giant Swing. That allowed him to transition into the sharpshooter (a move teased earlier in the match) to make Harper instantly tap out. The only thing keeping this match from being great is Harper’s unfocused arm work not having a more significant payoff. (***3/4)


July 13, 2015

Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens vs. Rusev (w/ Summer Rae)

The winner of this match gets an immediate shot at John Cena for the United States Championship.

This match can be split into two halves. The first half is a triple threat match between three of the most talented guys in the company. They go the extra mile to not fall into the standard tropes of WWE triple threats, as they avoided doing the “two men in, one man out” structure. It was fun and easy to watch even with a less than enthralled crowd. Owens eventually gets tired of this though, as he already has a PPV match with Cena. So, Owens walks out on the match.

That brings us to the second half of the match: Cesaro vs. Rusev. This part of the match was about Rusev using BIG moves to keep the more energetic Cesaro at bay. The biggest spot obviously being the vertical suplex that dropped Cesaro on the apron. Cesaro kept firing back with everything he had, but Rusev managed catch him with a kneeling superkick to get the win.

The match was a bit clunky in some ways, but there were so many positives about it that I definitely consider it to be “good.” (***1/2)


July 16, 2015

Cesaro vs. Rusev (w/ Summer Rae)

This was a classic WWE scenario: booking a match with a clean finish where both guys should be kept strong and away from each other as much as possible. Rusev was once the hot, monster heel who needed to be built back up. Cesaro was the over babyface on a tear who was stuck with a losing streak gimmick. Naturally, after losing to Cena cleanly multiple times despite Cena’s overness being in question, Cesaro gets his “big win” against Rusev and on Smackdown. It’s just dumb. At least they had a good match.

There was not as much fire as I was hoping for given how Cesaro was working at the time. However, they compensated for that some with a high level of physicality and by having Rusev a step ahead of Cesaro on some of Cesaro’s most recent additions to his moveset. Eventually, Rusev got frustrated about not being able to put Cesaro away, and he foolishly went for a dive. Cesaro (sort of) caught him with an uppercut and then finished him with the Neutralyzer to pick up the win. This was solid wrestling with bad booking. (***1/4)


July 23, 2015

Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins

A heel Seth Rollins against a babyface Cesaro is just a wrestling company swimming upstream for absolutely no fucking reason at all. Cesaro improved a lot as a babyface in 2015, but having a great match with Rollins working on top is virtually impossible. Luckily, the match ended up being more 50/50 in terms of who controlled the match. That meant Cesaro’s great offensive repertoire at the time carried the action and the champ to a fun match. Cesaro had all the momentum down the stretch, but Rollins ended up kicking him in the eye and sending him into a turnbuckle to set Cesaro up for the pedigree. Cesaro’s big win over Rusev really led to great things! (***)


August 10, 2015

Cesaro vs. Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens

They worked a furious pace here and just never let up with the spots. There were far fewer moments of “two men in, one man out” going on than I expect, and I was mostly entertained the whole time. Nothing about the match really struck a chord with me though. Orton ending up getting the win did not help matters. If there was ever someone in the company that should be solely used to make new main-eventers instead of still being pushed as one, it was Randy Orton. Regardless, this was solid and featured some great efforts. (***1/4)


July 30, 2015

Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins

This did not end up being much. They did a few minutes of work before Kevin Owens interfered to set up a tag team main event.


August 23, 2015

Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens

These two had the unenviable task of being in the Death Slot of Summerslam. Despite being in front of a very “smart” crowd, Cesaro and Owens struggled to get their match to connect with them. It would have probably worked better if they did not bother with the obligatory heat segment from Owens. If Owens has a big weakness in WWE right now, it’s his heat segments when he’s not going up against smaller wrestlers. This was a bad spot to do the same-old-thing for the heat at the very least. Also, much like the Cesaro/Rusev match, this was a match where neither guy should have lost. Owens probably needed the win more since Cesaro had been losing all the time anyway. It still should not have been booked though. Anyway, this was okay. Owens won cleanly with the pop-up powerbomb. (**1/2)


Tough Enough
August 25, 2015

Cesaro vs. ZZ

Well, Cesaro tried his best and did not make ZZ look terrible as a result. ZZ is the type of character that I would not mind being in the WWE undercard. I’m not sure what else can be gleaned from a two-minute match. Cesaro won with a crossface variation.


Cesaro vs. Josh “The Yeti”

The fun part of this was that Josh got to cut a pre-match “promo” where he said “Yeti Nation” need to come out and support him tonight. Then he removed his costume and revealed that he would be working in his underwear. NXT apparently became such a money-loser that Vince McMahon felt compelled to turn Tough Enough into a customs fed. Dear lord, The Yeti.

The match was interesting in the sense that they clearly allowed The Yeti to get in more offense on Cesaro and even gave him somewhat of a nearfall. Josh did not look like a natural at all though. I guess his body suggests that he is very athletic, but it was not on display here. He also paled in comparison to ZZ in terms of personality and raw charisma. Cesaro obviously won the match (with the Neutralyzer).

In a grave miscarriage of justice, The Yeti won the fan vote.


August 31, 2015

Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens

Okay, I just do not dig what these guys are capable of together in the WWE. There is just something undeniably “off” about their work, and it’s something I have no interest in seeing again after this match. It was not bad at all though, and the finish was at least clever. Owens sent Cesaro from the apron to the table, ribs first. Owens then went after the ribs to set up the pop-up powerbomb. That closing bit was enough to elevate this one over their previous efforts slightly. (**3/4)


September 3, 2015

Cesaro vs. Sheamus

Cesaro is great because he came into this match with taped-up ribs due to the finish of the Kevin Owens match from earlier in the week. It unfortunately did not play a huge role in the match, but it added some texture nonetheless.

This was a real good match in my eyes. Sheamus got the early advantage by going after the ribs. Cesaro fired back and made a great comeback. He avoided the backbreaker with an excellent reversal into a crossface. He then got a little overexcited though while attacking Sheamus in the corner. The ref had to pull him off, and it made him easy prey for the Brogue Kick. Fun action and good in-ring stories are all I need. (***1/2)


September 7, 2015

Cesaro vs. The Miz

There were two notable parts of this match. One, Cesaro’s ribs were still being sold. Two, Miz kicked Cesaro’s ass and was in firm control of the match until The Big Show ran in and chased Miz away to make this end in a double countout. Miz successfully ran away, and Show then KOed Cesaro into a geekdom with a punch. Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb. (**)


September 10, 2015

Cesaro vs. The Miz

Cesaro’s injured ribs dealio took what should have been a forgettable match and made it worth watching. Miz went after them well enough to give the match something worth paying attention to. The match did not go on long though so Cesaro was able to survive the damage and eventually submit Miz with the sharpshooter. Solid stuff! (***)


September 14, 2015

Cesaro vs. Rusev (w/ Summer Rae)

Holy shit, the WWE is so bad sometimes. Dolph Ziggler showed up and harassed Summer Rae. Rusev got distracted, and Cesaro then won with a fruit roll-up. Dolph attacked Rusev after the match. The WWE is SO fucking bad. (DUD)


September 16, 2015

Cesaro vs. The Big Show

I initially watched this in disbelief as it looked like Show was just going to squash him. They managed to make the match work though somehow. Show switched gears halfway through the match and randomly went after Cesaro’s left leg. That led to some meaningful selling from Cesaro which added so much intrigue to this match. Show of course won eventually (KO punch), but Cesaro turned this into something notable. (***)


September 21, 2015

Cesaro vs. The Big Show

Once again, this was looking like it was going to be a complete squash for Show. Cesaro got enough offense late in the match though to not make him look like a complete geek. In the end though, Show won this match cleanly and mostly with ease in order to build him up to get squashed by Brock Lesnar at a house show. (**3/4)


September 24, 2015

Cesaro vs. Bo Dallas

This was a really dull match, and Cesaro won with a fruit roll-up. I have no idea why this existed. (*)


October 2, 2015

Cesaro vs. Heath Slater

This could have been a fun squash with Slater taking lots of great bumps. Instead, we apparently needed to see Slater get the heat on Cesaro. Cesaro at least won cleanly though with the sharpshooter out of the giant swing. (**)


Main Event
October 3, 2015

Cesaro vs. Bo Dallas

They worked a normal match with Bo Dallas controlling it. Why? Why not?!?!?!?!?!? Bo is woefully bad at his chosen profession unless it’s all shtick so this was unpleasant to experience. Again, at least Cesaro won cleanly. (1/2*)


October 9, 2015

Cesaro vs. Adam Rose

If Cesaro just murdered him after the go-away heat promo that Rose started the segment with, we’d probably have a mildly amusing squash. Instead, we had a sit through an obligatory heat segment before Cesaro finished him with ease. Waste of time. (*)


October 22, 2015

Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins

This was once again not much to be perfectly honest. Cesaro had lost so much steam from his “push” in the summer, and he really did come across as anyone of note here. Much like the Big Show/Cesaro match from Raw, this seemed to just be done to give Rollins a clean win going into a more important PPV match. (**1/4)


October 26, 2015

Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens

This was a first round match a number one contenders tournament for the WWE Championship. Originally reviewed here.

They only got about seven minutes of television time, and they decided to work a million miles an hour to compensate for that. That’s not a strategy I tend to appreciate anymore, but things picked up in the second half of the match when Cesaro strung together a really fun sequence of stuff. He ended up getting distracted by the referee though, which allowed Owens to hit him with the superkick and then the pop-up powerbomb. This was probably the best match these two had together in 2015 (low bar). (***)


November 2, 2015

Cesaro vs. The Miz

This was a lot like the matches with the geeks on the C/D shows. It’s hilarious that the WWE finally started to give Cesaro some wins in order to set him up for a Stardust program. These wins were also doing nothing for him beyond making him look like an undercarder. Cesaro won cleanly with the sharpshooter out of the Giant Swing. (**)


November 11, 2015

Cesaro vs. Sheamus (w/ Wade Barrett)

This was a first round match in the tournament to crown a new WWE Champion.

As you would expect with these two, there was some fun action and good ideas in the match. At one point in the match, they did the Dynamite Suplex, and Cesaro crashed badly, shoulder-first on the apron. If that was not the actual spot where he got the shoulder injury, I’d be shocked. Anyway, it led to some neat selling in the aftermath with Cesaro being forced eventually to use the left arm for uppercuts. The match was brought down by the finish unfortunately. Wayne Rooney slapped Barrett from the crowd, and that distracted Sheamus for whatever reason. Cesaro pounced and used his fruit roll-up to get the win. (***1/4)


November 16, 2015

Cesaro vs. Roman Reigns

This was a quarterfinal match in the tournament to crown a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion after Seth Rollins had to vacate the title. Originally reviewed here.

While I have a couple of nitpicks, this was an excellent match overall. My favorite part of the match was just the general tone in which Cesaro worked. For both his character and the performer, this was a huge opportunity that could not be wasted. So, Cesaro threw everything he had in his arsenal at Roman Reigns in a desperate bid to knock him off. He was never out of control though. He was fully prepared for just about every situation and even managed to sporadically go after Roman’s Superman Punch arm throughout the match.

Unfortunately for Cesaro, Reigns managed to eventually drop Cesaro on part of the apron, and Cesaro aggravated his injured arm in that spot. That gave Reigns the opportunity he needed to make the match competitive again. It even had a great payoff as Reigns got the opening he needed late in the match to win after Cesaro failed to connect on a Fucking Machine Suplex.

They then a genuinely creative sequence full of reversals, counters, and near-misses on finishers before Reigns finally connected on the Superman Punch/spear combo for the win. This was fun, exciting, featured solid selling overall (Reigns’ arm being worked over should have led to something more though), made Cesaro look like a main eventer in defeat, and continued the Reigns’ breakout year as a singles performer. Is the time right for Reigns to win the title as a babyface? Absolutely not. He’s at least delivering in the ring though. (****1/4)


November 19, 2015

Cesaro vs. The Miz

Miz jumped Cesaro early on, but Cesaro came back nearly immediately and won with the crossface. Sometimes greatness goes out on a whimper.



Most Common Opponents (Average Star Rating)

Kevin Owens – 6 (2.92)
The Miz – 4 (2.33)
Rusev – 3 (2.25)
Luke Harper – 3 (3.42)
Bo Dallas – 3 (1.17)
Seth Rollins – 3 (2.63)
John Cena – 2 (3.88)
Sheamus – 2 (3.38)
Jimmy Uso – 2 (2.5)
Big E – 2 (2.5)
The Big Show – 2 (2.88)



Reviews of 120+ Cesaro matches

2015 Wrestling Year-End Awards: Part 1 & Part 2


Free matches!

Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger

Claudio Castagnoli vs. Bryan Danielson

Claudio Castagnoli vs. Sara Del Rey

The Kings of Wrestling vs. The Young Bucks

Claudio Castagnoli & Ares vs. 3.0 (GREAT match)

Claudio Castagnoli & Bryan Danielson vs. Mike Quackenbush & Jigsaw

Claudio Castagnoli vs. Tyler Black

Claudio Castagnoli vs. Mike Quackenbush (GREAT match)

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Seeking out every Cesaro singles effort from 2015 was a genuinely rewarding viewing experience. While the absolute awful booking from the WWE was impossible to avoid, you truly get a far more interesting perspective and entertaining/rewarding experience this way. You see all the little things a wrestler does or adjusts week in and week out. I am not saying that this exercise is worth doing for a lot of wrestlers, but it's great when it's a performer as nuanced as Cesaro.