It hasn’t taken Antonio Cesaro very long to make a major impact in the WWE.
In less than eight months on the main roster, he’s quickly developed into one of the company’s must-see acts and one of its top up-and-coming superstars.
Cesaro has surprisingly made the very common gimmick of the “anti-American foreigner” work, putting his own unique spin on it that includes carrying a man-purse on occasion.
He’s really excelled in his role so far and has helped restore some prestige to the United States Championship, which has essentially been an afterthought over the course of the last few years.
What’s been even more impressive about Cesaro, however, is just how great he is in the ring.
His matches are quickly becoming one of the most entertaining things on WWE TV. Whether it be a crazy tilt-a-whirl backbreaker or a ridiculously awesome European uppercut, he always manages to do something incredible during his matches
Cesaro’s style is a power-based one that’s caused Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler to label him as “pound for pound, arguably the strongest man in the WWE.” That’s probably true.
He continues to impress with his nearly unparalleled strength that is matched only by his fantastic athleticism—athleticism that you rarely see out of a guy who’s as big as he is.
Cesaro’s amazing skills have earned him the praise of WWE officials and fans alike, with the widespread expectation being that he will one day reach the “next level” known as the main event scene.
And he only needs one thing to get there: time.
While Cesaro the performer is already ready to make that leap to the main event and World title picture, Cesaro the character simply needs more time to be viewed by the WWE fans as a top guy.
Although the “older” fans can see that Cesaro has all the tools to reach the pinnacle of the WWE, the majority of the WWE’s fans have yet to see enough of the Cesaro character to see him as a main event-level heel.
After all, the WWE has a long history of pushing guys to the top of the company who look like they might be ready, only to see those guys struggle once they got there.
Just over the past few years, Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio were rushed to the World title picture after building up momentum early on; however, both quickly floundered once they arrived.
Sheamus was nowhere near ready to be WWE champion in late 2009, just like Alberto Del Rio wasn’t ready to win the Royal Rumble or compete for a World title at WrestleMania within a year of his debut.
Heck, even a guy like Jack Swagger rose to the World title level so quickly that the WWE didn’t have enough faith in him to push him like a top star once he won the belt. You could make a case that Swagger still hasn’t recovered from that to this day.
Swagger, Sheamus and Del Rio are just a few examples of the WWE thinking that it was striking while the iron was hot, when really, it was striking before the iron was ready to use.
It can’t afford to make that same mistake with Cesaro.
Cesaro is doing a fantastic job as the US champion. He’s putting on great matches, he’s developing his character and he’s becoming more and more despised by the fans.
If the WWE sees that and tries to rush him to the World title picture, there’s a very good chance that it will be a monumental disaster. The creative team likely won’t have enough faith in Cesaro to book him to beat the company’s top babyfaces, and Cesaro will become just another heel who loses.
Right now, Cesaro is one of the more dominant heels on the main roster. He’s lost a few matches here and there, but in a WWE where heels seem to lose around 80 percent of the time, he’s picked up far more wins than most.
It’s been fun to see Cesaro as the show-stealing midcarder who’s actually viewed as a viable threat to some of the WWE’s top babyfaces. After all, the WWE even protected Cesaro in his matches against Sheamus, who almost never loses.
That’s how Cesaro should be booked right now: Let him battle it out with top good guys from time to time, but keep him in the upper midcard as the US champion.
Then, when the time is right, Cesaro can drop the US title and make that leap to the main event scene, which is exactly where he belongs. In due time, that is.
Far too often, the WWE wants to capitalize on a guy’s momentum by elevating him quickly, only for that elevation to turn out to be the worst thing for him.
Don’t let that happen with Cesaro.
Rush his push, and he might never recover. Give him some time, and he’s bound to become a top star one day.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!