It’s Day Four of #AntonioCesaroWeek, a celebration of all things Very European/Real American and the second installment of our patent-pending Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week series. We started off with A Wrestler You Should Probably Know Better, before giving you the finer points of the Claudio Castagnoli oeuvre with some Essential Viewing. Yesterday, we mixed it up, starting off with a special appearance by a Relatively Happy Andy before marching through the end of Hump Day with an GIF parade. Today we make our Amazon.com-on-steroids dreams come true with “Juice Make Sugar Recommends…“ before finishing everything off on Friday with a Difference of Opinion (where JMS HQ erupts in a Swiss Miss-fueled civil war.)
Dream Theater Images and Words
Gifted with brutal technical proficiency and complex melodic songs, the New York-based prog-metal outfit released Images and Words in 1992 to critical acclaim and Billboard chart success. But despite unrelenting adoration from fans who championed the band’s skill set and pure display of the artform – not to mention enthusiastic endorsement from other musicians — the band has never achieved the mainstream success that seemed inevitable.
The same fate might await Antonio Cesaro. He’s already the strongest and (arguably) most technically gifted wrestler in the WWE, but he’s still a long way from the top. Love from “smart” fans and one’s peers will only go so far. Let’s hope one day we can stop using those other modifiers and just call him what he is: the best.
The Third Man
“Don’t be so gloomy. After all it’s not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”
– Harry Lime
Both exhibit an ability to stand out over the din, but have to be super careful about not letting the hype, the expectations that come with that hype or the relative quality at the beginning of the run overwhelm them.
They also both have a tendency to lean on specific tropes from their past, which is fine, but they seem so earnest in their initial actions that seeing it as a recurring them manages to cheapen both experiences.
If they succeed, both will mark a sea change in terms of how development works in their respective fields.
This one is obvious: they are both 32 years old.
Movie star Mads Mikkelsen’s run as Dr. Lecter on NBC’s Hannibal has been as interesting as main roster star Cesaro’s time in NXT, which is saying a lot for both of them. Much in the way that Mads is a face of “the resurgent Danish cinema”, Cesaro is a throwback to European strongmen from the earliest days of pro wrestling.
Cesaro is also a throwback to a more recent period: the mid-90s heyday of popularity in Europe during Bret Hart’s run as the face of the company. The Swiss-born Claudio Castagnoli is now the face of the company in his home continent and played a major role in the WWE2K14 press rollout there.
However, Cesaro better hope he can make it past the New York Times assessment of Mikkelsen: “a reliable character with an intriguing mug”.
Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness
Even Heart of Darkness could make anything about Antonio Cesaro seem like a drag. The man once dressed up as Very Mysterious Ice Cream, which was part of a troupe of wrestlers all wearing masks with fake ice cream cones attached.
This is about the success both have had as immigrants, with Cesaro making it to the highest level of his profession while remaining one of the most well respected and well liked workers in the business and Conrad being considered one of the great writers in the history of a language which is not even his native tongue.
Of course, it could be said that the Imperialism conundrum of “who is the *real* savage?” highlighted by Conrad in this book and the existential Exceptionalist conundrum of whom amongst us are the *real* Americans for Cesaro both paint very specific pictures of the immigrant experience where conformity to a less-than-fair system is required in order to reap its benefits.
Which is kind of just fancy way of saying that despite neither having English as a native language, or an American upbringing, through the stories they choose to tell, they both articulate the greatness of their adopted cultures and the underlying, uh, darker aspects of the worlds they’ve chosen to enter into.
Wow, this book really is just a total bummer.