Wrestling: Claudio Castagnoli
aka: Antonio Cesaro
(born December 27, 1980), also known by the ring name Antonio Cesaro
which was then shortened to Cesaro
, is a Swiss professional wrestler
. Castagnoli made his debut in Essen Germany in the year 2000 for Westside Xtreme Wrestling as Tenshi Takami
before changing his ring name to Double C
. Castagnoli eventaully signed with WWE
, where he was the WWE United States Champion
. He was previously known for his work (under his real name) in Ring of Honor
, Combat Zone Wrestling
, Pro Wrestling Guerilla
, and the Japan-based Pro Wrestling NOAH
. Among his in-ring achievements, he is a former 2x CZW World Tag Team Champion
, a former 2x ROH World Tag Team Champion
, a former 2x CHIKARA Campeon de Parejas (tag team champion)
, a former PWG World Heavyweight Champion
and a former JCW (Juggalo) Tag Team Champion
, the inaugural winner of the WWE Andre the Giant Memorial Trophy, and has also held several titles in Switzerland, Germany and Great Britain.
As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki
"A trope list paid for by Swiss Money Holding"
- The Ace: was this in In 2008/2009 while in CHIKARA.
- Alliterative Name: All his pre WWE names, except very mysterious ice cream
- Always Someone Better: Unintentionally this to his "Real American" partner Jack Swagger, who failed to qualify for the 2014 Elimination Chamber while Cesaro succeeded. Then when Swagger managed to redeem himself by winning #1 contendership for the IC Title, it ended up being overshadowed by Cesaro's shocking victory over WWE World Champion Randy Orton.
- (in CHIKARA): Mike Quackenbush, Eddie Kingston, the steel steps.
- The Briscoe Brothers when teaming with Chris Hero in CZW, Ring Of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerilla and Juggalo Championship Wrestling
- In WWE, The Miz. One of his rivalries in the WWE was an old signature rivalry, though, with El Generico.
- Ascended Extra: Started out in WWE as a police officer in 2006 but was released when Deep South Wrestling got into trouble and so went back to Chikara. Then they decided to pick him up again and put him in FCW.
- Bait and Switch: Castagnoli hoists his opponent up for a suplex, holds them up seemingly for ages, then lets back down before Chris Hero elbows them in the back of the head.
- Bald of Evil/Bald of Awesome: Subverted; he is balding rather than all bald, though he seems to have started shaving the rest off lately.
- Bash Brothers: Ares, Dave Taylor and Chris Hero. Formerly Bison Smith (who unfortunately died due to heart complications)
- Break the Haughty:
- The Kings Of Wrestling, easily the most successful tag team in the USA at the time, went to on to lose every single match they had in Pro Wrestling NOAH's Global Tag League.
- Losing to Sara Del Rey at Chikarasaurus Rex: King of Sequel. In fact, this caused both Del Rey AND Daizee Haze to be kicked out of the BDK.
- He then went on to lose to Icarus and was so disgusted by this that he quit CHIKARA and signed with WWE under the name Antonio Cesaro.
- Breakup Breakout:
- By far the most successful of the Swiss Money Holding trio. Ares is still working the US indies but isn't getting much attention. Marc Roudin stayed in Switzerland and people who missed his appearance on a CHIKARA show probably don't even know Swiss Money Holding was a trio...what's that? It was once a quartet? Yep, really early on when the stable was still based in German Stampede Wrestling they had a fourth member named Don Heavy.
- Also the breakout of the Kings of Wrestling, now that Chris Hero/Kassius Ohno has been released from his WWE developmental deal.
- Temporary became the breakout member of The Real Americans, getting much more of the spotlight as an individual wrestler than Jack Swagger. The changes made when Heyman became his manager and Jack Swagger's feud with Rusev complicate matters.
- Carpet of Virility: He's not exceptionally hairy, but in the very well-shaved modern WWE, his chest hair is apparently enough to warrant inclusion on his action figure.◊
- Cast from Hit Points: One big problem of the Giant Swing is that it makes him just as dizzy as his opponent.
- Charles Atlas Superpower:
- Doesn't appear ridiculously jacked (in comparison to, say, a guy like John Cena) but he's pretty freakin' strong. He's already got a Neutralizer on Brodus Clay and The Great Khali to his credit. Made all the more impressive that due to Khali's lack of leg mobility, he was unable to push off the ground to the extent that most other wrestlers can. Essentially, Cesaro deadlifted a 7 foot 4, 400lbs man twice!
- He then performed a Giant Swing on Khali!
- In his February 18th, 2014 match with John Cena, Cesaro managed to deadlift Cena (245 1lbs.) into a superplex...from the goddamn ring apron. "Swiss Superman" is not an exaggerating nickname for Cesaro.
- The Raw after Wrestlemania XXX, he manages to the same to former tag team partner Swagger who is 270.
- He wins the Andre the Giant Battle Royale at Wrestlemania XXX by hoisting and then bodyslamming the Big Show (450 lbs!) over the ring ropes. And on the following Smackdown, he's able to use the Neutralizer on him (and is only unable to perform the Big Swing by Jack Swagger's run-in).
- When fighting Mark Henry he put the Neutralizer on him!
- Charlie Brown from Outta Town: Very Mysterious Ice Cream
- Dancing Is Serious Business: At CZW Last Team Standing, the crowd started chanting "Dance Off" after Chris Hero tagged in Claudio Castagnoli. Unfortunately for him, his "opponent" was Human Tornado, which was pretty much a no win for Castagnoli but the crowd cheered him anyway for trying.
- Die, Chair! Die!: On two occasions, he's had the ring steps slide out from under him when he tried to get into the ring. His response was to European Uppercut the hell out of them.
- The Dragon: To Chris Hero in the Kings of Wrestling and Ares in the BDK.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Not so much him, but his title reign. After holding the title for over half a year and then not having a match on Wrestlemania AT ALL, Cesaro lost his title to Kofi Kingston in a match on RAW that seemed to have little to no setup.
- Early Installment Weirdness: His pre USA runs as "Double C" were weird enough but his run in the Swiss Wrestling Federation as "Japanese Wrestler" Tenshi Takami, takes the cake.
- Eccentric Mentor: Would you believe Chris Hero and Mike Quackenbush were also this guy's trainers in Switzerland? His first trainer was SigMasta Rappo but he counts enough himself. Castagnoli would go on to help train Drew Gulak and Lince Dorado, as well as Rory Mondo and Frightmare.
- Evil Minion: Shane Hagadorn, once the Kings Of Wrestling's second Ring Of Honor run really began in earnest.
- Exact Words: He stated that no American could beat him for the US title. Which turned out to be true when he was defeated by the Ghanaian born Kofi Kingston.
- Face-Heel Turn
- He betrayed Ring Of Honor and sided with the CZW invaders, because they were being lead by Chris Hero.
- His "Very European" gimmick, which started with him assaulting Bryan Danielson, whose victory over Castagnoli once again spoiled his chances at getting an individual ROH Championship. Claudio then threw his lot in with Prince Nana.
- In Pro Wrestling Guerilla, he joined with BLKOUT Members Human Tornado and future arch enemy Eddy Kingston against Christ Hero, in order to help Human Tornado get rid of Hero's girlfriend, Candice LeRae. They became partners again after Castagnoli left and then returned to PWG.
- Finishing Move: The Alpamare Waterslide (side death valley driver), The Ricola Bomb (sit down cross armed power bomb) The (Gotch Style) Neutralizer, Very European/ Swiss Death (pop-up European uppercut, or a European uppercut to a diving/springboarding opponent).
- Foreign Wrestling Heel: Tenshi Takami, an evil Japanese man who seemingly looks down on the Swiss. Double C, a rich Swiss who looks down on Germans. Antonio Cesaro, a Swiss rugby player/yodeler who looks down on Americans. Downplayed as a Real American; he loved America and smugly waved the American flag and wore the flag on his tights. He just hated the people in it.
- Groin Attack
- He purposefully got himself disqualified to give one to Eddie Kingston at Chikara's Torneo Cibernetico. Ended up not being worth it, as Kingston sucked it up and won for his team, beating even Tursas.
- How he retained his US Championship at Elimination Chamber 13 against The Miz. Miz was working on Cesaro's knee in order put in The Figure Four Leglock, so Ceasaro tripped Miz and got Miz's knee in his groin and the ref had to call for a DQ.
- Also, the execution of Cesaro's Neutralizer appears to put rather a lot of pressure on the opponent's crotch region.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: His yodeling was the worst sound WWE had the gall to broadcast since they released Jillian Hall.
- Human Hammer Throw: The Cesaro SWING!
- Immigrant Patriotism: A key element of his gimmick, especially as part of the Real Americans. In an inversion of the Foreign Wrestling Heel trope, this (combined with his actual in-ring skill garnering an increasingly large following) actually made him, if not an Anti-Villain, much more sympathetic.
- Jerk Jock: First appeared on WWE TV as a somewhat arrogant former rugby player. Lead to Early Installment Weirdness, as the rugby aspect of his character hardly ever got a mention in later years.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch
- Last Name Basis: From February 2014, he's just called and billed as "Cesaro."
- Leitmotif: KoW by Cody B. Ware for the Kings Of Wrestling in Ring Of Honor
- Lonely at the Top: Subverted according to the commentators at Remix Pro Wrestling. He and Chris Hero spending so much time in the gym is what allowed them to meet and strike up a friendship with Sara Del Rey.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Chris Hero was very bad to him after the Kings Of Wrestling Lost To Friends In Similar Tights. This started with Hero kicking Castagnoli out of Chikara and then forcing Castagnoli to do his bidding when he revealed he had returned, WWE having nothing for him (back in 2006 anyway). Castagnoli eventually broke up the Kings Of Wrestling and sent Hero out of Chikara, seemingly for good, though the two made up and became friends again in Ring Of Honor (where no one would know they even had a feud if they did not keep up with Chikara)
- The Mole: When Die Brüderschaft des Kreuzes was revealed, Castagnoli looked like he was going to be among the first to oppose them, along with Mike Quackenbush, but then he turned and uppercut Quackenbush, showing where his true allegiance was.
- Most Annoying Sound: Invoked during the thankfully briefly lived gimmick where he yodeled his way to the ring.
- Mundane Made Awesome
- "Very European," his HUGE pop-up uppercut. Back when Cesaro was in WWE's developmental program FCW, commentator William Regal said during one of Cesaro's matches that he was "envious" of Cesaro's ability to do that move.
- His 100-Rotation Giant Swing.
- Must Have Caffeine: Often drank coffee during promos while working the indies. He even used to maintain a photo blog documenting his coffee intake (www.very-european.com)
- New Old Flame: Apparently for Aksana.
- Noodle Incident: Of course, even though Aksana's been on WWE TV for about a year beforehand, he was never brought up and, except for the fact that they were romantically involved, their history is never mentioned.
- Nice Hat/Cool Shades: His most recent outfit.
- Odd Friendship: So you get that Castagnoli is a banker swelling with national pride by now right? Arik Cannon is an anarchist. They go great together, really.
- Omniglot: Apparently speaks five different languages, as he at the start of every match he had with Aksana as his manager , says one word in each, a fact that makes sense as Switzerland has four official languages (German, Italian, French and Romanch).
- Only One Name: WWE dropped the "Antonio" from "Antonio Cesaro"... the rumored reason being Vince McMahon didn't think that "Antonio" was a tough name. Why they could not just shorten it to Tony is a mystery for the ages.
- Pet the Dog: Standing up to Brodie Lee for bullying the smaller wrestlers of the Chikara locker room.
- Phrase Catcher: Claudio Castagnoli spreads his arms and "Hey!"
- Pintsized Powerhouse: He isn't short. At 6'5 232 lbs, Castagnoli is well into the heavyweight range but he looks almost skinny next to the bulked up standard of the WWE. Still, he possesses an incredible amount of core strength that lets him perform suplexes and throws on people like The Great Khali and The Big Show.
- Popularity Power/Tweener
- Has drifted in this direction ever since the introduction of his Giant Swing in WWE. Despite playing a heel gimmick, when Cesaro uses his Giant Swing (which has now ascended to Signature Move status for him), he plays to the crowd and receives reactions much like a face would.
- When he reveals that he's a "Paul Heyman guy" on 4.7.14 you'd expect him to be booed. Nope, the crowd supports him all the way.
- Power Stable.
- Swi$$ Money Holding with Ares, Don Heavy and Marc Roudin
- The Embassy under Prince Nana in Ring Of Honor, then Larry Sweeney's Sweet and Sour International
- One of many YRR lead by Young Rich And Ready For Action (Chasyn Rance, Kenny King and Steve Madison) in Full Impact Pro.
- The Kings Of Wrestling eventually became a stable with Chris Hero and Castagnoli using Arik Cannon, Larry Sweeney, Icarus, Chuck Taylor and Gran Akuma as henchmen.
- (in CHIKARA): Die Brüderschaft des Kreuzes (BDK) (with Delirious, Sara Del Rey, Tim Donst, Jakob Hammermeier, Daizee Haze, Lince Dorado, Tursas, Pinkie Sanchez, Ares, Derek Sabato and Dieter Von Steigerwalt.)
- Power Trio: The Kings Of Wrestling started as a trio with Chris Hero and Arik Cannon but Cannon soon departed and was replaced with Sara Del Rey. A Few Good Men (With Chris Hero and Blackjack Marciano), Team Uppercut (with Dave Taylor, another of Castagnoli's trainers and with Bryan Danielson) and The Real Americans (with Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter) too.
- Prematurely Bald: In the early 2000s he had a coif to rival Conan O'Brien's. Then it started receding. Then it kept receding. Then it receded even further and Claudio gave up on it and shaved his head.
- Product Placement: The Ricola Bomb.
- Put on a Bus: Left Chikara for WWE.
- The Quiet One: When he and Aksana were together they weren't very verbose. She basically told people to listen to him say a word about something (usually himself) in five languages, and he did.
- Rage Against the Mentor: Zig-zagged in his match with William Regal on NXT. Near the end, after seemingly knocking out Regal with a surprise dropkick after an absolutely grueling 15+ minutes, Cesaro geared Regal for the Gotch-style Neutralizer. You could tell from the look on his face that he didn't want to put Regal down like that. When Regal showed a faint sign of life, though, Cesaro fired up and hit Regal with an intense Neutralizer for the win.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: WWE always showed more interest in Castagnoli than Hero, which meant in their tag matches Castagnoli was pinned the most on the idea he might be working for WWE exclusively soon. This made Castagnoli look like the weak link in the Kings Of Wrestling.
- Real Men Wear Pink
- If he's not in wrestling gear, he's often seen with a messenger bag that looks suspiciously like a man-purse... and at least once on the indies actually wore a full pink dress suit!
- It's supposed to be another reminder he's European because WWE is known for having the subtlety of getting hit by an ice-cream truck.
- Real Song Theme Tune
- 50 Cent's "I Get Money" and then L.A. Style's "James Brown Is Dead" as one of YRR.
- Jim Jones's "We Fly High", which at one point was the YRR theme but simply became Castagnoli's theme
- In Chikara: Jermaine Dupri with Nas and Monica's "I've Got to Have It" (Instrumental).
- Queen's "We Are The Champions" and ZZ Top's "We Are The Champions" as part of The Kings Of Wrestling
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He sure loved giving these speeches to Americans during his "Anti-American Foreigner" phase (his basic point being "I'm a better American than all you people and I'm not even from here"). Many of said people gave him the Shut Up, Hannibal! speech, but he kept going on and on.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: It's not uncommon to hear some fans complain that "Antonio Cesaro" doesn't sound like a Swiss name. To be fair it isn't. "Antonio" is Spanish (but is also common in Italy), "Cesaro" is Italian. Switzerland doesn't have its own language, as its citizens speak German, French, Italian, and Romansh, languages from which their names are derived. Romansh is the closest thing there is to a Swiss language, and even that is a Latin-based, German-influenced language spoken by a minority of Swiss people. That being said, his real name Claudio Castagnoli is also a name with Spanish and Italian roots.
- Red Baron
- Occasionally known by "The Swiss Death", also the name of one of his signature moves.
- In WWE, he's been known as the "Swiss Superman." "King of Swing" is starting to pick up some steam now as well.
- The Resenter: He resented that Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins were more popular with the FCW fans than he was.
- Shoryuken: His Very European Uppercut is basically a standing variation. He does have a jumping variation done off the middle rope, but it looks more like Sol Badguy's Volcanic Viper.
- Shout-Out: His Neutralizer finisher is a shout out to Karl Gotch's classic Gotch-Style Piledriver, with "Gotch-Style" even being part of the Neutralizer's name at first.
- Signature Move: Besides the Ricola Plex (Straightjacket Brainbuster) and Swiss Sleeper Holding (bridging cobra clutch, better known as Delirious's cobra stretch) Castagnoli's gotten over by using a giant swing, a move that not only looks staid and ineffective, but hasn't been part of any wrestler's regular repertoire in over thirty years (Ivory on B shows was the closest to "regular"). In his indy days, he gave Grizzly Redwood a 100 rotation giant swing. In WWE, he did it by putting Christian through it for nearly a full 90 seconds nonstop, and then putting it on the Great Khali and an ever-larger array of wrestlers to showcase his frankly ridiculous strength.
- Student and Master Team: Besides the Kings Of Wrestling, besides teaming with Dave Taylor, Castagnoli and Lince Dorado in the BDK
- Swiss with Army Knives: In Kayfabe he was in the military back in Switzerland before going into pro rugby and then into WWE.
- Tag Team: Besides Swiss Money Holding and The Kings Of Wrestling? AC/CC with Arik Cannon.
- The Rival
- Euro Threat (SigMasta Rappo and HATE) to Ares and Double C, especially in Germany. For that matter, Ares and Double C were not always teammates.
- The H8 Club (Nic Gage and Justice Pain) in CZW to the Kings Of Wrestling.
- The Kings Of Wrestling had QuackenSaw (Jigsaw and Mike Quackenbush), Lightning Storm (Shane Storm and Mike Quackenbush) and ShaneSaw (Shane Storm and Jigsaw) in Chikara. Also Incoherence (Delirious and Hallowicked)
- Generation Next in Ring Of Honor, particularly Austin Aries and Roderick Strong, who frequently acted as a tag team, though Matt Sydal too, as he teamed with Christopher Daniels to unseat them as ROH Tag Team Champions after The Kings Of Wrestling unseated Aries and Strong. Also, The American Wolves and The World's Greatest Tag Team.
- Team PWG (Super Dragon and B-Boy) in Pro Wrestling Guerilla .
- Brave in NOAH, particularly Takeshi Morishima and Mohammed Yone (AKA Captain NOAH), who acted as a tag team against Hero and Castagnoli. Castagnoli would also face Morishima for the Ring Of Honor World Championship but come up short.
- The Olsen Twins, Colin and Jimmy in 2CW.
- The Young Bucks (Nick and Matt Jackson) in ROH and PWG.
- Individually, Castagnoli has faced Brent Albright in the National Wrestling Alliance, International Wrestling Cartel, IWA Mid-South and Ring of Honor. The two would even meet in a triple threat match with Castagnoli's other rival, Takeshi Morishima. Antonio Cesaro has often been seen wrestling Kofi Kingston in WWE.
- Tournament Arc
- Double C won the Rings Of Europe Summer Crush wXw Round Robin Challenge of 2004 in Wien Wien Austria
- Arik Cannon and Claudio Castagnoli won the Chikara's 2005 Tag World Grand Prix, Castagnoli and Chris Hero won the Tag World Grand Prix in 2006
- He and Chris Hero won CZW's "Last Team Standing" in 2006
- Castagnoli beat El Generico in the finals of the Ring Of Honor's Race To The Top in 2007
- Ares, Tursas and Claudio Castagnoli won Chikara's 2010 King Of Trios. He and Chris Hero also "won" Ring Of Honor's tag wars in 2010, though they did not actually compete in the tournament. Claudio Castagnoli actually lost the 2010 Battle Of Los Angeles but ended up winning the Pro Wrestling Guerilla World Championship anyway because Davey Richards had to drop the title due to being double booked.
- Use Your Head: The money drop is like Val Venis's money shot, except Castagnoli lands head to sternum.
- Villain Team-Up: With Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger in summer 2013.
- We Used to Be Friends: He and Chuck Taylor were sort of friends or at least nominal allies in The Kings Of Wrestling prior to F.I.S.T. becoming rivals of the BDK when it appeared to be showing weakness. There's also that bit about F.I.S.T. getting him kicked out of the KOW...
- Wearing a Flag on Your Tights: Usually Swiss, but would also wear American during his US Championship run to show his superiority.
- Wham Line: On the 4/7/14 RAW:
: I am not a Zeb Colter guy...I'm a Paul Heyman guy.
- Wicked Cultured: Very European.
- The Worf Barrage: Just how many matches has "The Match Killer" (Swinging Sitdown Facebuster) actually won Castagnoli?
- World's Strongest Man: According to Zeb Colter, Cesaro is. This is somewhat doubtful but his strength is nothing to overlook.
- Would Hit a Girl: Before one would ask Kyusei Ninja Ranmaru and Sumie Sakai about the Kings Of Wrestling stance on the topic. Castagnoli made it particularly clear when he chokeslammed Daizee Haze out of the BDK with almost no provocation.
- Wrestling Doesn't Pay: An evil Swiss Banker in Germany.
- You Have Failed Me: The reason he broke up with Aksana: she failed to stop Santino Marella from pinning him, so he kicked her to the curb (in five different languages).
- You Look Familiar: Fans of CHIKARA and/or Ring of Honor will, of course, recognize him as Claudio Castagnoli from the Kings of Wrestling, the three main members of whom were all at one point employed by WWE.note