Cesaro Swings Back to Singles Glory
By Ryan Satin
FOX Sports WWE Analyst
This week on Friday Night SmackDown, Cesaro followed in the footsteps of his tag-team partner with a standout performance that could reignite his singles career.
Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura, aka "The Artist Collective," formed in the summer of 2019 and have continued to be an entertaining team throughout the pandemic – even once they ditched former manager Sami Zayn.
The time has come, however, for both members to once again pursue singles success.
Shinsuke Nakamura made that very clear last week with his tremendous performance in the Gauntlet match to determine a new No. 1 contender to the Universal Championship.
This seems to have reminded the decision-makers in WWE that fans still want to see him wrestle in main event title matches as a babyface performer. When Shinsuke is at his best, there’s no one like him.
Fans all know that.
Having him defeat Jey Uso this week in a good back-and-forth encounter was a solid follow-up to keep that momentum going. It was also wise to give him his old banger of a theme song back.
Something equally well done was Cesaro’s reaction to everything happening involving his tag-team partner.
Turning on Nakamura right away instead of pursuing a world title opportunity would’ve been too easy because these former SmackDown Tag Team champions seemed to thrive on competition.
Instead, it made more sense for Cesaro to mention that he too plans to win the Royal Rumble and go on to face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania, like he did on commentary this week during Nakamura’s match, as well as have the motivation to defeat a former World Champion in Daniel Bryan.
To me, this feels like it’s building toward a potential showdown inside of the Rumble in which one teammate eliminates the other.
This scenario could even lead to a match on the WrestleMania undercard between Shinsuke and Cesaro, which would have the potential to steal the show.
Earlier this week, the WWEonFOX social media accounts asked who the most underrated Superstar is in WWE, as well as the greatest Superstar to never win a WWE Championship, and many fans answered Cesaro for both questions.
To see him get a clean win over Daniel Bryan in the same week at least makes me hopeful that WWE recognizes his worth and plans to give him the push he deserves again in the coming weeks.
It’s what we all need.
Additional Thoughts on SmackDown:
-- Adam Pearce will no longer be facing Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble later this month.
Instead, he’ll be replaced by Kevin Owens, with whom "The Head of the Table" had already been feuding.
On one hand, this makes the most sense for a multitude of reasons, and I’m looking forward to seeing the program continue between KO and Roman.
Owens has felt reinvigorated working opposite Reigns, and this next match should be just as good as their other affairs.
To be honest, though, I’d be lying if I said I weren't intrigued to see how a match between Roman and Pearce would’ve played out -- even if it had been a short encounter.
The two WWE stars were doing a magnificent job hyping things up on social media, and I wanted to see if the former NWA champion had one last piledriver in him.
-- Roman Reigns mentoring Apollo Crews has promise
Paul Heyman has always seemed to be a big supporter of Apollo Crews, so his joining the cast of characters circling the Island of Relevancy shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but I enjoyed how his introduction was handled in a subtle manner.
Let's hope Roman’s "Midas touch" and the talking power of Paul Heyman can help take Apollo to the next level.
The 33-year-old certainly has the skill set and "it" factor to get over if they give him the ball to run with.
-- Bayley’s new talk show "Ding Dong, Hello!" was fabulous.
If you didn’t see it already, do yourself a favor, and watch below.