Cesaro is the antithesis of Brock Lesnar.
The Swiss-born WWE Superstar shows a deep reverence for the craft of wrestling, and despite his considerable skill in the ring, he’s never ascended to the same heights as the paycheck-chasing Universal Champion Lesnar. Instead, Cesaro has toiled unselfishly in WWE Raw’s tag team division, where the skillful fan favorite is currently one half of the champion team alongside Sheamus.
WWE is in town Friday night at the Target Center, and it’s hometown mercenary Lesnar who’s headlining, facing off against mega-heel Intercontinental Champion the Miz, but hardcore fans of the graps will be showing up to see Sheamus and Cesaro take on Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns further down the card.
Ahead of the house show, we spoke to the Swiss Cyborg about his proficiency in tag team wrestling, his relationship with his tag team partner, and why he thinks beach balls are the ultimate form of disrespect from wrestling fans.
City Pages: You and Sheamus have taken on Seth Rollins and everybody—whether he be with Dean Ambrose, Jason Jordan, or Roman Reigns—throughout the year. How heated is that rivalry between you and Rollins?
Cesaro: It’s pretty heated. And pretty personal as well. We faced Seth Rollins and somebody all over the world. There’s a lot of pride on the line, along with the Tag Team Championships. Plus, that’s two-thirds of the Shield, so that’s going to be tough match for anyone. It’s always heated, but that means it’s always a world-class match. That’s about as good as it gets, right there.
CP: You’re a record five-time WWE Raw Tag Team Champion, and before coming to WWE, you were renowned for your work in the indies as a tag team specialist. Why is it that you excel in tag team wrestling specifically?
Cesaro: I’m really good, and I bring the best out of every single person in the ring. Especially my tag team partners.
CP: How is the mentality different when you’re wrestling in a tag team versus in singles competition?
Cesaro: You have to depend on somebody the whole time as well. You can’t be selfish and just worry about yourself because there’s somebody else with you. Of course, it’s an added benefit when you have someone like Sheamus, who is a world-class Superstar, with you. That makes it easier. You just have to be on the same wavelength. Despite some initial difficulties, that’s what me and Sheamus are doing.
CP: You feuded hard with Sheamus during that best-of-seven series last year, but now you two have found great chemistry. What is it about working with him that makes you guys so formidable?
Cesaro: We’re both extremely, extremely competitive. We always want to improve every single date. We both came from Europe, and it was our dream to become WWE Superstars... That’s why we didn't’ get along as much in the beginning. Now, we’re as tight as brothers.
CP: On the indies, you were in a very successful tag team with Kassius Ohno known as the Kings of Wrestling. Now that Ohno’s back in NXT, is there a chance you’d ever reunite the Kings of Wrestling with him in WWE?
Cesaro: There’s the saying “never say never,” but I don’t think about it. Other people like to dream and play on the Playstation or Xbox, but I’m just focused on the here and now. And that’s me and Sheamus teaming up.
CP: Let’s talk about beach balls. Last year at SummerSlam, you very famously ran into the crowd to tear up a beach ball that was being passed around. What about the beach ball made you want to destroy it like that?
Cesaro: Excuse my language, but fudge beach balls. Seriously. That’s absolutely disrespectful. We were wrestling for the Tag Team Championships, and you want to play with a beach ball? Get the hell out of here. Go. Leave the arena, and don’t come back. I think every person that brings a beach ball into a WWE arena should get ejected for life.
Author's note: At this point in the conversation, a WWE spokesperson interjected to clarify that Cesaro really did say “fudge.” After multiple listens, I have confirmed that, despite immediate skepticism, the Superstar did indeed keep it PG. Unfortunately.
CP: What would be your advice for any other wrestler who is in your situation where they feel like they’re not getting the credit or booking you deserve?
Cesaro: First of all, nothing happens overnight. Everyone thinks you become successful overnight or you get good overnight, but that does not happen. It’s always a long road. I came to the WWE after a long time on the independents, traveling and wrestling all over the world for 12 years. I’ve been in WWE for six years now. For some people, that success happens fast, but for some people, it doesn’t. It takes a while. You just have to be consistent and work hard. And you have to believe in yourself.
IF YOU GO:
WWE Live Road to Wrestlemania
With Brock Lesnar, Finn Balor, Roman Reigns, Alexa Bliss, and more
7:30 p.m. Friday, Mar. 9
$40; more info here