Kevin Owens and Cesaro are truly phenomenal in-ring performers and have had a nice little feud in the last month. They’ve had some great matches with each other, stemming from Kevin Owens’ program with John Cena which saw Cesaro getting some main event spotlight. On paper, that would seem like the perfect way to build up this feud. Cesaro would become next in line to face Kevin after getting involved with the angle involving Cena, and that would elevate HIS position on the roster. Everything should be rainbows and sunshine for these two. Except, it isn’t.
Let me explain the issues with this feud. The first issue I have with this feud was down to something that wasn’t Cesaro or Kevin Owens’ fault. This issue comes before the feud even began. It comes from Battleground, where Kevin Owens TAPPED OUT to John Cena.
I went on a tirade about this decision on my Battleground review back in July, so I’ll keep this short. If the plan all along was for Owens to go on to face Cesaro, surely WWE could have came up with a storyline which could switch Owens’ target from Cena to Cesaro in such a way that it could have protected Owens. Cesaro and Owens had been messing with each other in their pursuits for John Cena’s US Championship in the weeks before Battleground. Owens has cost Cesaro the title before so it would only be fitting that Cesaro pays Owens back. Paying him back would be costing Owens the match with Cena and getting Cesaro over by having him interfere in the second biggest match of Battleground. However, the Battleground ending with Cena tapping out Owens already damaged Owens’ upcoming feud before it even began.
When Owens debuted on the main roster, he became a star in a matter of weeks. He beat John Cena in his first match. He’s done some incredible things in the ring and on the mic. In a perfect world, Owens would have taken the US Championship at Battleground and his stock as a main event heel would have risen tremendously. Therefore, when Cesaro begins his feud with Owens, the feud means a lot more with the title being on the line. However, considering that Owens beating Cena reportedly “hurt” Cena’s merchandise sales, WWE probably wanted to protect Cena by having him win the feud. FINE! However, the feud ending was done in such a way that Owens seemed to receive no protection and there was no way for him to save face.
Owens could have simply passed out and the next night on RAW, Owens cuts a promo on how “Cena was never able to beat him”. That didn’t happen and Owens didn’t even say anything about his loss. Owens’ promo skills is one of his key attributes and he was not able showcase it by addressing his loss the night before. He could have also began his storyline with Cesaro THAT NIGHT rather than starting it on SmackDown!, a show which is vastly inferior to RAW in terms of viewership. That didn’t happen either. There were so many little things which the WWE could have done to get this feud over quickly and they didn’t do it. If the WWE were truly interested in getting this program off on the right tracks, they wouldn’t have booked it for Summerslam.
Let me explain why. At Summerslam, Owens vs Cesaro was considering an afterthought by WWE. With so many stars on the show that night as well as the co-main events of Rollins vs Cena and Lesnar vs Undertaker, Cesaro and Owens seemed lost in the shuffle. Therefore, their match went on in the middle of BOTH of those main events basically as a cool-off match before the big main event. This hurt their match as the majority of fans were really just waiting for Undertaker vs Lesnar. Only the hardcorest of hardcore fans would have been hugely pumped for this match (even though “hardcorest” is not a real word). That’s a problem because, to be fair, Cesaro and Owens had a decent match. However, the fans weren’t paying attention nearly enough for it to be a huge hit. These two men were victims of the timing of this show, which basically meant that their match served as a filler match just before the main event.
Therefore, the momentum that Owens had built up with Cena beforehand and the momentum Cesaro had built up with the “Cesaro Section” were effectively meaningless in the end, as all eyes were on Taker vs Lesnar. Building up this match for Summerslam was going to be problematic itself, with the amount of stars and big matches they had been planning. However, a star could have been made with the finish…
Cesaro has been in WWE since 2012. He’s had a lot of ups and downs. Cesaro’s been so close to breaking into the main event scene. Hell, Cesaro was actually IN the main event of 2014 PPVs like Elimination Chamber and Money In The Bank. He was a part of multi-man matches, but he was still one of the stars of the shows in both those main events. With the Cesaro Section and how well Cesaro was “connecting” with the audience, WWE had a great opportunity to build on that. All they had to do… was have him beat Kevin Owens.
When I wrote my Summerslam predictions, I was undecided on a finish. However, after Summerslam itself, I had a realisation. Kevin Owens would have lost a huge amount of stock by losing in his third PPV in a row. However, Kevin Owens was only just starting on the main roster. In the future, they’ll probably will be other ways in which they could get Kevin over as a big star. However, this was CESARO’S big chance to be elevated to a main eventer. What’s hurt Cesaro in the past is the fact that WWE rarely had Cesaro beat anyone big which hurts him, because he needs to look strong by getting wins once in a while. The Cesaro Section and the support of the WWE Univerise leading to Cesaro pinning Kevin Owens, would be the moment that could make Cesaro a main event star for years to come. This could have kept the momentum up and would help him develop a streak that could possibly lead to a main event title program with Seth Rollins. If Cesaro beat Owens, Cesaro would have been made. It was so crucial for Cesaro to win that much… but he lost.
Kevin Owens had lost a great deal by losing his feud to John Cena. His win over Cesaro did claw back some credibility for Owens. However, what it also did was CRUSH the momentum Cesaro had worked so hard to build. While Kevin Owens has now moved onto a feud with Ryback for the Intercontinental Championship, Cesaro is stuck. He is floating around in that mid-card to upper mid-card sea of irrelevancy, waiting for a break. Look what happened on RAW, when he was basically an extra in the feud between Big Show and The Miz. The WWE didn’t even give Cesaro a win over The Miz in their match on Monday. It was ruled a double count out and the Big Show KO’d Cesaro. What a missed opportunity, just so Kevin Owens could save face.
If the WWE wanted Kevin Owens to save face, they didn’t need to have him beat Cesaro CLEAN. Why not have Cesaro BEAT Owens first and continue to develop the feud? If Owens was supposed to go after Ryback and the Intercontinental Championship, no problem. Why not throw Cesaro into the mix as well, since he did beat the guy that’s challenging the “Big Guy” for the title? Therefore in a triple threat match at Night of Champions, Owens sneaks away with the Intercontinental Championship by pinning Ryback. What this would do was get Cesaro over as a big star and get Kevin Owens over as a champion. It’s simple. You can elevate both these guys.
Now though, Kevin has just been shot in this feud with Ryback with little promotion. Hell, they had one little backstage confrontation on RAW and that was that. Cesaro is in the middle of nowhere and it’s all because of the lack of planning which has led to both these men being in a worse of position than they should be.
People can go on about what a great program this was between Cesaro and Owens. However, this storyline has done little to help the careers of both of these gentlemen. Kevin MIGHT be able to develop a fantastic run as Intercontinental champion. That’s a big might, because I don’t think WWE will put enough effort into Owens’ feud for it to really stand out. Cesaro, on the other hand, is back to square one with all of his momentum being squash because of one fateful night in Brooklyn. Maybe I’ll be wrong about WWE’s treatment of Cesaro and Owens. Maybe, this will lead to both of them being main-eventers in a few months. However, in order for that to happen, WWE have a lot of work to do to make main-eventers out of these top talents?
A bit of an announcement as well. I’ve begun writing for an awesome wrestling website called SLTD Wrestling. You can check out their website at http://www.sltdwrestling.com and truly appreciate some of the other writers involved with that site. Down below are links to the two articles I’ve done for them so far as part of the “Armbar Analysis” and I’ll be contributing for them every week. So be sure to follow them on Twitter at @SLTDWrestling as well for updates and follow @ArmbarExpress as well for updates on content from this blog!