|He's Not The Greatest Because He Did It For Less Money|
In case you didn’t know, this is Antonio Cesaro, the current United States champion of the WWE. And if you follow me on the internet, you will know that he is one of my favorite wrestlers currently on WWE television. I’ve said before that I will wait throughout whatever WWE wants to place in front of me for three hours on a Monday Night (including John Cena quite literally pooping on peoples parade), just to get to the Antonio Cesaro match and watch him go straight beast mode on someone. He has brought great matches out of some not so great wrestlers, to the point where I am actually excited for the match he is having on Main Event with The Great Khali of all people. But as many of you know, Antonio Cesaro use to go under a different alias. He was once Claudio Castagnoli, former multi-time champion in companies such as Ring Of Honor, Chikara, Pro Wrestling Guerilla, Combat Zone Wrestling and many, many more. And in those companies, Claudio exhibited all the traits that made me such a fan of him currently.
This brings me to the point of this post. I follow independent wrestling a great deal, to the point that I am the spear-header for the indie wrestling news segment on the Wrestling Mayhem Show. When my fellow Mayhem Show co-hosts bring up a name of someone they have heard of for the first time, I am usually able to give them a brief synopsis of the stuff that they have done and some of their attributes. It’s very pro wrestling hipster-esque of me, but I like to share my knowledge with other people. But let me say that just because I spend a great deal of my time following independent wrestling and wrestlers, does not mean I automatically think that all indie wrestling is great.
Normally, I tend to get behind certain wrestlers as opposed to certain companies. While certain companies on an independent level can be defined as better than others, there is great talent intermixed throughout, and that also goes for televised wrestling products. However, I do feel very strongly that in order to develop your own opinions about what is good and what is bad, you need to see a little bit of everything. I watch everything from WWE, to TNA, to local promotions, to promotions states away, to international promotions, because your best pro wrestling experiences and your worst teach you about what you love and appreciate. That being said, not every indie wrestler is the greatest pro wrestler in the world. I’ve been to small independent shows where the best on the show is still not as great as WWE’s worse and vice versa. At the same token, just because a wrestler is on television does not automatically make them better than someone wrestling in front of only a fraction of the crowd.
And just because you have wrestled for those smaller crowds does not mean you are automatically my favorite. Take for example Dean Ambrose, the newest arrival from the independents to WWE television. As much as I appreciate Ambrose, while I followed his stuff on the independent scene, I was never that compelled by his work in the way most other fans were. A large portion of it occurred in Combat Zone Wrestling, and looking back on his matches, they were no different than a lot of the infamous wrestling that occurred in CZW at the time. Then there are his widely talked about promos, where he pulls his hair, rubs his face, talks in a mumbling voice and then starts to scream, and at times I found them more comical then truly serious. One of my favorite examples of this is a promo he cut for a IPW storyline he was doing with Drake Younger, where Moxley continually harasses and gropes this female interviewer and says weird stuff to make you think that he is crazy. When I watched it for the first time, I couldn’t help but laugh the entire time because of how ridiculous it was, which was not the goal of the promo. Rather than me thinking he was a deranged psychopath who is dangerous, I thought he was ridiculously hilarious and over the top. And just because something makes you laugh in wrestling, doesn’t always mean its good.
Don’t get me wrong though. I am very happy for Dean Ambrose’s recent success and opportunities in a company that pretty much every pro wrestler desires to be in. But I tend to hear a great deal about how bringing in Ambrose to the main roster is a way for the WWE to make the internet wrestling community “wet in the pants”, and for me, that’s just not the case. The same goes for Cesaro, who I would be enthralled with whether he was wrestling in front of 18,000 or 180. Claudio Castagnoli and Antonio Cesaro are the same phenomenal wrestler and no sole company that he has worked for has defined him. However, I am still devout in keeping up with the independents and talking them a great deal. But that is because they are the ones that need people talking about them. WWE doesn’t need us on the internet discussing their on-goings to be successful. In fact, they may be more successful without. I am lucky enough to see amazing independent athletes like ACH, Davey Vega or Rachel Summerlyn every month, and I make a strong effort to tell as many people as I can about them. But they are as much my favorite wrestlers as the likes of Cesaro, Damien Sandow, Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes and so many others on TV.
Overall, the moral somewhere within this is to love the wrestlers you wish to love, no matter how the environment around those wrestlers defines them. Great wrestlers are great wrestlers and bad wrestlers are bad wrestlers. I encourage you to explore all of the wide variety that professional wrestling has to offer and decide for yourself which are which.
Those are just my thoughts. I would love to hear what yours are so leave a comment telling me what you think. What equates a good wrestler? Do you tend to follow wrestlers or follow companies?