Claudio Castagnoli (December 27, 1980), better known by his ring name Cesaro (shortened from Antonio Cesaro), is a Swiss professional wrestler who is currently signed to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and performing on the SmackDown brand. He is a five-time WWE Raw Tag Team Champion. He was previously known for his work in Ring of Honor (ROH), various independent promotions including Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) and Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), and the Japan-based Pro Wrestling NOAH.
Castagnoli is an accomplished tag team wrestler, having won many championships with his partner Chris Hero as the Kings of Wrestling, as well as with his compatriot Ares as Swiss Money Holding. He has held Chikara's Campeonatos de Parejas with each partner once. With Ares, he is an eight-time Tag Team Champion having held the titles of Chikara, German Stampede Wrestling, International Pro Wrestling: UK, the Swiss Wrestling Federation and Westside Xtreme Wrestling.
With Hero he is a six-time Tag Team Champion, having held the titles of Chikara, Combat Zone Wrestling, Juggalo Championship Wrestling and Ring of Honor, where their 364-day reign is the longest. They were also voted as the 2010 Tag Team of the Year by Wrestling Observer Newsletter readers.
He has also won a number of singles titles, most notably the PWG World Championship once. Particularly in America, Castagnoli emphasises his European origin as part of his wrestling gimmick to proclaim a superior intellect and fashion sensibility.
Professional wrestling career
Castagnoli received his initial training in his homeland of Switzerland from fellow Swiss wrestler SigMasta Rappo, and made his debut on December 24, 2000 in Essen, Germany for the German westside Xtreme wrestling. Castagnoli first used a Japanese gimmick before becoming a Swiss banker along with Ares, together known as the "Swiss Money Holding" (SMH).
While performing in England, Castagnoli received training from Dave Taylor. In Switzerland, Castagnoli met Chris Hero and Mike Quackenbush, who invited the SMH to perform in the United States. They competed in IWA Mid-South and Chikara and received training from Hero before returning to Europe. In 2004 Castagnoli received a United States Permanent Resident in a green card lottery and moved to the United States and began making regular appearances for Ring of Honor and Chikara, while Ares remained in Switzerland and formed the new Swiss Money Holding with Marc Roudin.
Kings of Wrestling (2003-2006)
Castagnoli and Ares made their Chikara debuts on May 7, 2003, at the 2003 World Grand Prix, out of which they were eliminated after drawing with the SuperFriends (Chris Hero and Mike Quackenbush). Castagnoli returned to Chikara in 2004 as a member of Larry Sweeney's Sweet 'n' Sour International. The following year Castagnoli teamed up with Arik Cannon to form AC/DC. The team entered the 2005 Tag World Grand Prix and ended up winning the tournament after Chris Hero turned on his partner Mike Quackenbush in the finals of the tournament. Together, Castagnoli, Cannon and Hero would form the stable known as the "Kings of Wrestling". Cannon would leave the promotion at the end of 2005 and together Hero and Castagnoli entered the 2006 Tag World Grand Prix. In the tournament Castagnoli and Hero defeated Equinox and Hydra, Sumie Sakai and RANMARU, the North Star Express (Ryan Cruz and Darin Corbin), Incoherence (Hallowicked and Delirious), and finally Team Dragondoor (Skayde and Milano Collection A.T.) to become the first "Chikara Campeones de Parejas".
On November 17, 2006 at the Chikara show Brick in Reading Pennsylvania, Castagnoli and Hero lost the Chikara tag titles to Team F.I.S.T. (Icarus and Gran Akuma) in a 2 out of 3 falls match. Following the match, Hero and Team F.I.S.T. turned on Castagnoli and engaged in a beat down.
In November 2006 it was revealed that Castagnoli had signed a developmental deal with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) , having impressed them with an appearance on Raw (as a police officer in a backstage segment) and a successful tryout for Deep South Wrestling. Shortly after, Castagnoli was released from his WWE contract. Reports stated that this was due to Visa problems with Castagnoli, although he disputed those reports.
Going Solo and Los Ice Creams (2007-2009)
Castagnoli returned to Chikara on February 16, 2007, under a mask and the ring name "Very Mysterious Ice Cream", as a part of Los Ice Creams. Afterwards Castagnoli started feuding with his former partner Chris Hero. On April 22, 2007, at Rey de Voladores Hero defeated Castagnoli and as per stipulation of the match Castagnoli was forced to re-join the Kings of Wrestling. The following month Hero, Castagnoli and Larry Sweeney joined forces with Team F.I.S.T. (Icarus, Akuma and Chuck Taylor to form the Kings of Wrestling superstable, which would later be joined by Mitch Ryder, Max Boyer and Shayne Hawke. On September 22, 2007, at Cibernetico & Robin the Kings of Wrestling faced Los Luchadores in the annual torneo cibernetico match. The Kings won the match with Hero, Castagnoli and Mitch Ryder as the survivors, but since the match could only have one winner, they were forced to face each other. Castagnoli forced Hero to tap out and then pinned Ryder to win not only the match, but also his freedom from the Kings of Wrestling. On December 9, 2007, at Stephen Colbert Bill O'Reilly Castagnoli defeated Hero to finally end their long feud. After the match Hero left the company and Castagnoli took over his training duties at the Chikara Wrestle Factory.
In 2008 Castagnoli started a new feud, this time with Brodie Lee. On September 7 Castagnoli defeateed Lee in the first steel cage match in Chikara history to win the feud. On October 19, 2008, Castagnoli won a 7-on-7 Global Gauntlet match where Chikara wrestlers faced off with wrestlers from Big Japan Pro Wrestling.
Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (2009-2011)
Castagnoli entered the 2009 King of Trios teaming with Bryan Danielson and Dave Taylor as Team Uppercut. The team advanced to the finals of the tournament, where they were defeated by F.I.S.T. (Icarus, Akuma and Taylor). After the tournament Eddie Kingston, whose team The Roughnecks Castagnoli and his team had eliminated on their way to the finals, claimed that he had been embarrassed and disrepected by Castagnoli. On May 24, 2009, Kingston, who had claimed technical superiority over Castagnoli, pinned him cleanly with an Oklahoma roll. After Castagnoli defeated Kingston via countout at the 2009 Young Lions Cup, the two of them were booked in a "Respect Match" on November 22, 2009, at the season eight finale Three-Fisted Tales, where the loser of the match had to show respect to the winner. Castagnoli won the match, but instead of showing respect, Kingston laid him out with a spinning back fist, after claiming that both Castagnoli and his former partner (Chris Hero) are shady and deserve respect from no one. At the conclusion of the show Ares revealed himself as the man who had been stalking UltraMantis Black, at which point Castagnoli turned rudo by attacking Mike Quackenbush. After beating the entire tecnico roster Castagnoli aligned himself with Ares, Tursas, Pinkie Sanchez, Tim Donst, Sara Del Rey and Daizee Haze to form the Bruderschaft des Kreuzes.
After picking up the three points needed in order to challenge for the Campeonatos de Parejas in just one weekend, Castagnoli and Ares defeated The Colony (Fire Ant and Soldier Ant) on March 20, 2010, to win the titles, making Castagnoli the first two-time Campeon de Parejas in Chikara history. In April Castagnoli, Ares and Tursas defeated the teams of The Osirian Portal (Amasis and Ophidian) and Sara Del Rey, Team Perros del Mal (El Alebrije, Cuije and El Orientál), Team Big Japan Wrestling (Daisuke Sekimoto, Kankuro Hoshino and Yuji Okabayashi) and The Colony (Fire Ant, Soldier Ant and Green Ant) over a three-day tournament to win the 2010 King of Trios. On October 23 Castagnoli represented BDK in the torneo cibernetico match, where they faced a team composed of Chikara originals. He eliminated himself from the match by low blowing Eddie Kingston, but his plan did not work out as Kingston came back to eliminate Tursas and win the match. At the season nine finale on December 12, Castagnoli and Ares lost the Campeonatos de Parejas to Jigsaw and Mike Quackenbush. On March 13, 2011, Castagnoli and Eddie Kingston finally faced each other in a grudge match fifteen months in the making, with Castagnoli emerging victorious after hitting Kingston with a chain. In May, Castagnoli entered the 12 Large: Summit to determine the first ever Chikara Grand Champion. During the Chikarasaurus Rex weekend on July 30 and 31, Castagnoli was involved in two main event matches, both of which were also a part of the 12 Large: Summit. After losing to Mike Quackenbush on Night 1, Castagnoli suffered an upset loss against his BDK stablemate Sara Del Rey on Night 2, after which he turned on not only Del Rey, but also Daizee Haze as she was standing up for her regular tag team partner. At the following event on August 27, Castagnoli was defeated by Icarus, eliminating him from contention in the 12 Large: Summit.
Combat Zone Wrestling (2004-2006)
In late 2004 Castagnoli made his way to Combat Zone Wrestling, where he teamed up with Chris Hero to once again form the Kings of Wrestling. Eventually, on September 10, 2005 they defeated The Tough Crazy Bastards of Necro Butcher and Toby Klein to win the CZW World Tag Team Championship. While feuding with BLCKOUT, Castagnoli and Hero lost the titles to Eddie Kingston and Joker.
In September the Tag Team Titles were vacated when Joker left the company and on October 14, 2006, at Last Team Standing Castagnoli and Hero defeated Human Tornado and Justice Pain in the finals of a tournament to regain the titles. With their victory Castagnoli and Hero held the tag team titles of three of the top American independent companies simultaneously (CZW, Chikara and ROH).
After news broke that WWE was interested in Castagnoli, he and Hero dropped the CZW World Tag Team Titles to the BLKOUT of Sabian and Robbie Mireno on November 11, 2006. Castagnoli has not returned to the company since the loss.
CZW Invasion (2005-2006)
Castagnoli made his Ring of Honor (ROH) debut on July 16, 2005, at Fate of an Angel. The rest of the year he would feud with Pure Champion Nigel McGuinness. On December 17 at Final Battle 2005 McGuinness defeated Castagnoli in a match for the title and as a result Claudio could no longer challenge for the title as long as McGuinness was the champion. At the beginning of 2006 Castagnoli's partner from other promotions, Chris Hero, along with other Combat Zone Wrestling wrestlers invaded ROH and started a cross-promotional war. Castagnoli initially sided with ROH, but on April 22, 2006, at The 100th Show turned on the company and assisted Hero, Super Dragon and Necro Butcher in defeating Team ROH (Samoa Joe, B.J. Whitmer and Adam Pearce) in a six-man main event match. On July 15, 2006, at Death Before Dishonor 4 Team ROH defeated Castagnoli, Hero, Necro Butcher, Nate Webb and Eddie Kingston in a Cage of Death match to end the feud. However, due to having a contract with ROH prior to his turn, Castagnoli was allowed to stay in the company, while the rest of Team CZW were forced out. Hero would return to the company during the August tour of United Kingdom and on September 16 he revealed that he had stolen the ROH World Tag Team Titles from champions Austin Aries and Roderick Strong in order to get himself and Castagnoli a match for them. That match took place on September 16, 2006, at Glory By Honor V Night 2, where the Kings of Wrestling defeated Aries and Strong to become the new Ring of Honor tag team champions.
With the news of WWE showing interest in Castagnoli, the Kings of Wrestling dropped the ROH World Tag Team titles to Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal on November 25, 2006, at Dethroned. On December 23 at Final Battle 2006 the Briscoe Brothers (Jay and Mark) defeated Castagnoli and Hero in what was scheduled to be their last match together. After the match Castagnoli announced that he would not be leaving for WWE after all and promised great things for the Kings of Wrestling in 2007. Hero shook Castagnoli's hand, but left with his manager Larry Sweeney who promised Hero big things in 2007, thus ending the Kings of Wrestling.
World Championship Contender (2007-2009)
Castagnoli wrestled on Ring of Honor's first pay-per-view Respect is Earned on May 12, 2007, teaming with Matt Sydal to challenge the Briscoe Brothers for the ROH World Tag Team Championship. Despite losing the match, Castagnoli was granted a rematch with the partner of his choosing. He chose former partner Chris Hero, but the duo lost to the Briscoes on June 9.
Success would occur in ROH singles competition on July 28, 2007, as Castagnoli won Ring of Honor's Race to the Top Tournament, a 16-man, two night event. He defeated Hallowicked, Mike Quackenbush and Jack Evans, before defeating El Generico in the finals. He faced Takeshi Morishima for the ROH World Championship at Death Before Dishonor V: Night One on August 10, but lost. He received a second shot, this time a three-way match with Brent Albright, later that month, but was again unable to win the title. On December 29, 2007, one year after Hero had abandoned Castagnoli, the two of them faced each other at the second ROH pay-per-view Rising Above, where if Castagnoli won the match, he would get five minutes with Larry Sweeney, but if he would lose the match, he would have to join Sweet 'n' Sour Inc. Castagnoli ended up winning the match, but was defeated by Sweeney the following night at Final Battle 2007, when Sweet & Sour, Inc. member Daniel Puder interfered in the match.
On June 28, 2008, Castagnoli scored one of his biggest victories in Ring of Honor. In their first ever meeting in the company he pinned Bryan Danielson following an elevated European Uppercut. On July 26, 2008 in Detroit, MI, Castagnoli received an ROH World Championship title shot against Nigel McGuinness, but lost when McGuinness pinned him following the Jawbreaker Lariat. On August 2, 2008 in New York City Castagnoli failed in another title shot against McGuinness. Along with Bryan Danielson and ROH World Tag Team Champion Tyler Black he competed in a Four Man Elimination Match. He wound up being the first eliminated by Danielson and afterwards snapped and beat Danielson down setting him up to be eliminated by the eventual winner McGuinness. After turning heel Castagnoli started referring to himself as "Very European", joined Prince Nana's heel stable The Embassy and feuded with Brent Albright.
Kings of Wrestling Reunion (2009-2011)
On December 19, 2009, at Final Battle 2009, ROH's first live pay-per-view, Castagnoli reunited with his former Kings of Wrestling partner Chris Hero as they attacked the new ROH World Tag Team Champions, the Briscoe Brothers. The two would adopt Shane Hagadorn as their manager and Sara Del Rey as an associate. On April 3, 2010, at The Big Bang! Castagnoli and Hero defeated the Briscoes to win the ROH World Tag Team Championship for the second time. At the following pay-per-view, Death Before Dishonor VIII, on June 19 Castagnoli and Hero successfully defended their titles against the Briscoes in a No Disqualification match. In July, Ring of Honor announced the return of Tag Wars, where twelve tag teams would compete in three blocks to determine, which three would get to challenge the Kings of Wrestling in the final Ultimate Endurance match. On August 28 the Kings of Wrestling defeated The Dark City Fight Club (Jon Davis and Kory Chavis), The All Night Express (Kenny King and Rhett Titus) and the Briscoes in the Ultimate Endurance match to win the 2010 Tag Wars and retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship. On September 2 it was announced that Castagnoli had signed a contract with Ring of Honor, which makes the company number one priority in his independent bookings.
At the following pay–per–view, Glory By Honor IX on September 11, the Kings of Wrestling picked up a major victory by defeating Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) in a non–title match. On December 18 at Final Battle 2010 the Kings of Wrestling ended their feud with the Briscoe Brothers in a six-man tag team match, where Jay, Mark and their father Mike defeated Castagnoli, Hero and Shane Hagadorn. On January 4, 2011, Castagnoli and Hero became the longest reigning ROH World Tag Team Champions by breaking the previous record of 275 days, set by the Briscoe Brothers. On February 26 at 9th Anniversary Show, Castagnoli and Hero successfully defended the ROH World Tag Team Championship against The All Night Express. On April 1 at Honor Takes Center Stage, the Kings of Wrestling lost the ROH World Tag Team Championship to Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, ending their reign at 363 days.Castagnoli and Hero received their rematch for the ROH World Tag Team Championship on August 13 at the first Ring of Honor Wrestling tapings under the Sinclair Broadcast Group banner, but were unable to regain the belts from Haas and Benjamin.
Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (2005–2008, 2010–2011)
On August 6, 2005, Castagnoli made his debut for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, losing to Joey Ryan. On September 2, 2006, Castagnoli entered his first Battle of Los Angeles tournament, but ended up being eliminated in the first round by Jack Evans. On October 21, 2006, at Horror Business Castagnoli and Hero attempted to win the PWG World Tag Team Championship to hold four different sets of Tag Team titles simultaneously, but were unable to dethrone the champions Super Dragon and Davey Richards. They would have another attempt at the titles during the 2007 DDT4 tournament, but were defeated in the first round by the Briscoes. In August 2007, Castagnoli competed in his second Battle of Los Angeles. He defeated Doug Williams in the first round, but lost to PAC in the second round.
In late 2007 Chris Hero was feuding with Human Tornado and when his scheduled tag team partner Eddie Kingston turned on him in a mystery tag team partner match and sided with Tornado instead, Castagnoli came out and took Kingston's place as Hero's partner. However, when Hero went to tag Castagnoli, he nailed him with a European uppercut, turned heel and joined Tornado and Kingston. On January 5, 2008, at All Star Weekend 6 - Night One Tornado, Castagnoli and Kingston defeated Hero, Necro Butcher and Hero's girlfriend/valet Candice LeRae in a six-person tag team match to earn Tornado a match with LeRae. On March 21, 2008, Hero defeated Castagnoli in a grudge match. On July 6, 2008, at PWG's fifth anniversary show Life During Wartime Castagnoli wrestled his last match at the time for the promotion, defeating Phoenix Star.
It was announced on August 12, 2010, that Castagnoli would return to the company for the annual Battle of Los Angeles tournament on September 4. Castagnoli made it to the semifinals of the tournament, defeating Ricochet and Roderick Strong, before losing to the eventual winner of the entire tournament, Joey Ryan. When Davey Richards was after the tournament stripped of the PWG World Championship, Castagnoli and the three other Battle of Los Angeles semifinalists, Brandon Gatson, Chris Hero and Joey Ryan, were placed in a four-way match to determine a new champion. On October 9, 2010, at The Curse of Guerrilla Island, Castagnoli defeated Gatson, Hero and Ryan to win the PWG World Championship, his first major singles title in the United States, for the first time. At the following event on December 11, 2010, Castagnoli and Hero were scheduled to face PWG World Tag Team Champions, ¡Peligro Abejas! (El Generico and Paul London), in a non–title match, but prior to the match the champions agreed to put their belts on the line as long as Castagnoli agreed to give the victor a shot at the PWG World Championship, if the Kings of Wrestling were unsuccessful in winning the titles. After Castagnoli had agreed to the stipulation, ¡Peligro Abejas! defeated him and Hero to retain the World Tag Team Championship and earn El Generico a shot at his title. On January 29, 2011, during the WrestleReunion 5 weekend, Castagnoli made his first successful defense of the PWG World Championship, when he defeated El Generico. On March 4, 2011, Castagnoli and Hero entered the 2011 DDT 4 tournament, defeating the Cutler Brothers (Brandon and Dustin Cutler) in their first round match. However, in the semifinals of the tournament the Kings of Wrestling suffered an upset loss against the Nightmare Violence Connection (Akira Tozawa and Kevin Steen), when Tozawa rolled Hero up for the win. On April 9, Castagnoli successfully defended the PWG World Championship against Battle of Los Angeles winner, Joey Ryan. On May 27, during the first night of All Star Weekend 8, Castagnoli successfully defended the PWG World Championship against his long time tag team partner Chris Hero. The following night, Castagnoli defeated Low Ki to retain the title. On July 23 at PWG's eighth anniversary show, Castagnoli defeated Hero in a rematch for the PWG World Championship. After the match Castagnoli accepted a challenge from Kevin Steen and ended up losing the title to him, ending his reign at 287 days. On August 20, after both Castagnoli and Hero were eliminated from the 2011 Battle of Los Angeles in the first round, they challenged PWG World Tag Team Champions, The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), to a match for the title. The match, which took place later that same evening, saw the Kings of Wrestling once again fail to win the PWG World Tag Team Championship.
Pro Wrestling NOAH (2008, 2010, 2011)
Castagnoli made his debut for Pro Wrestling NOAH on February 15, 2008, when he teamed up with Chris Hero in a losing effort against Jun Akiyama and Kentaro Shiga. He primarily wrestled in the promotion as Chris Hero's tag team partner and in January 2010 the Kings of Wrestling entered the Global Tag League, where they ended up losing all of their matches. Castagnoli and Hero returned to Noah on November 19, 2010, for a three week long tour. The team went undefeated in tag team matches, before being defeated on December 5, the final day of the tour, by Takuma Sano and Yoshihiro Takayama in a match for the GHC Tag Team Championship. The Kings of Wrestling returned to Noah in April 2011 to take part in the 2011 Global Tag League, where they managed to win two out of their seven-round robin matches, finishing seventh out of eight teams in the block. On May 15 he traveled to Germany to challenge Takashi Sugiura's GHC Heavyweight Title on "Genesis in Germany", co-promoted by local Westside Xtreme Wrestling and NOAH. However he was unsuccessful losing after Olympic Slam.
Evolve Wrestling (2010)
On March 13, 2010, Castagnoli made his debut for Evolve Wrestling, at the promotion's second event, defeating Bobby Fish. At the following show on May 1 Castagnoli was defeated by Chuck Taylor.
In November 2006, he wrestled Antonio Thomas in one half of the main event at MXW Pro Wrestling's Capital Collision show in Albany, NY. In April 2007, Castagnoli represented Chikara in the inaugural King of Europe Cup, a sixteen-man tournament held in Liverpool, England. He lost in the opening match against CZW's representative and former partner, Chris Hero.
During the Summer of 2007 Castagnoli competed in the Reclaiming the Glory tournament for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship under the Terry Funk bracket. He defeated Pepper Parks in the first round qualifiers and Sicodelico, Jr. in the second, before losing to Brent Albright in the semi-finals on August 12 in Charlotte.
Later in September, Castagnoli competed in Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South's Ted Petty Invitational 2007 tournament. He defeated Nigel McGuinness in the first round, Davey Richards in the quarter-finals, and Brent Albright in the semi-finals to compete in a three-way elimination match, with finalists Mike Quackenbush and IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Champion Chuck Taylor. He was first eliminated by the eventual winner, Quackenbush, being pinned following a Quackendriver II. Castagnoli replaced Fergal Devitt in the 8-man NWA Australian Title Tournament which was held in November 2007.
World Wrestling Entertainment
Florida Championship Wrestling (2011–2012)
On September 16, 2011, it was reported that Castagnoli had signed a contract with WWE and would begin with the promotion working in its developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) under the new ring name Antonio Cesaro. He made his FCW debut at a live event on September 17, in a loss against Seth Rollins. He made his television debut on the October 24 episode of FCW TV, defeating Mike Dalton with the Ricola Bomb. On January 6, 2012, Cesaro made his WWE live event debut in Jackson, Mississippi, where he teamed with Michael McGillicutty in a tag team match, where they were defeated by Alex Riley and Mason Ryan. Three days later at the tapings of WWE Superstars, Cesaro was defeated by Riley in a dark match. In March 2012, Cesaro started feuding with Richie Steamboat over the FCW 15 Championship, starting with a title match, which ended in a draw, on the March 18 episode of FCW TV. Cesaro wrestled another dark match at the SmackDown tapings on April 17 in London, England, defeating the UK Kid.
Debut and United States Champion (2012-2013)
Cesaro made his WWE television debut on the April 20, 2012, episode of SmackDown, appearing in a backstage segment with Aksana and Theodore Long, ending with him going to talk to General Manager John Laurinaitis about a contract. In storyline, Cesaro served in the Swiss militia, before embarking on a career in rugby, which ended with him being banned for "excessive aggression". The following week, Cesaro defeated Tyson Kidd in what was billed as a tryout match. On the July 3 Great American Bash episode of SmackDown, Cesaro suffered his first loss, when he and Aksana were defeated in a mixed tag team match by The Great Khali and Layla, though Cesaro himself was not pinned. On the July 27 and August 3 episodes of SmackDown, Cesaro scored back-to-back non-title wins over United States Champion Santino Marella. On the following episode of SmackDown, Cesaro suffered his first loss in a singles match as he was pinned by Christian. On August 19, during the SummerSlam pre-show, Cesaro defeated Santino Marella to win the United States Championship, his first title in WWE. Cesaro made his first televised title defense on the September 3 episode of Raw, defeating Marella in a rematch. Cesaro would next successfully defend the title against Zack Ryder on September 16 at Night of Champions. On the September 21 episode of SmackDown, Cesaro ended his relationship with Aksana, after an inadvertent distraction from her cost him his non-title match with Santino Marella. This led to a title rematch between Cesaro and Marella the following week, where Cesaro was able to retain his title. After Cesaro was defeated by Justin Gabriel in a non-title match on the October 22 episode of Raw, the two were booked in a United States Championship match six days later at Hell in a Cell, where Cesaro successfully defended his title. On the October 29 episode of Raw, R-Truth came down to the ring and saved his former partner Kofi Kingston from a post-match attack by Cesaro, beginning a feud between the two. At Survivor Series Cesaro defeated Truth to retain the US Title. The feud continued on the following episode of Smackdown, with Truth defeating Cesaro in a non-title match. Cesaro then defeated Truth in two more matches, first in a fatal-four-way match, which also included Kofi Kingston and Wade Barrett on the December 3 episode of Raw and the second on December 16 at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in a singles match to retain his title. On the December 31 episode of Raw, Cesaro issued a title challenge to Sgt. Slaughter as part of the "Champion's Choice Night" and then defeated Slaughter to retain his title. Two days later on the January 2 episode of WWE Main Event, Cesaro defeated The Great Khali to retain his United States Championship. Afterwards, Cesaro began a feud with The Miz who confronted Cesaro after he insulted the United States. In the pre-show of the Royal Rumble on January 27, Cesaro defeated Miz to retain the United Sates Championship. Later on in the pay-per-view, Cesaro entered his first Royal Rumble match at number twenty-two, but was the eighteenth participant eliminated by the eventual winner John Cena. Their feud continued on February 17 at Elimination Chamber, where Cesaro retained the U.S. Championship via disqualification after Miz accidentally hit him in the groin. Cesaro and Miz faced off in a two-out-of-three falls match for the United States Championship on the March 1 episode of Smackdown, where Cesaro again retained the United States Championship. On the April 15 episode of Raw, Cesaro lost the United States Championship to Kofi Kingston, ending his reign at 240 days. Cesaro continued his performances in singles competition including a match on May 17 on Friday Night Smackdown against Chris Jericho. He loss the match after his finishing move the The Neutralizer was countered by Jericho's finishing submission The Walls of Jericho forcing Cesaro to tap out. Afterwards, Cesaro attempted to capitalize on a distraction provided by Fandango to assault Jericho. His ambush attack was thwarted and served as an example to Jericho's rival Fandango for their match leading towards Extreme Rules.
The Real Americans (2013-2014)
On the June 10, 2013 episode of Monday Night Raw, Zeb Colter was providing commentary for a match between Cesaro and Sin Cara. Colter went on and on about how much he liked Cesaro and thought Cesaro was a "working class man". The following week on Raw Colter announced that he and Jack Swagger (who was out due to injury) are going to start working together with Cesaro. During Swagger's absence, Colter and Cesaro continued their alliance and the propaganda of Colter and Swagger as Cesaro began using the "We, the People" the catchphrase made villainous by Swagger. On the June 19 episode of WWE Main Event, Cesaro faced and defeated Sin Cara in another singles match. Swagger returned during the early part of July and resumed his role as a member of "Coltersmilitia", standing alongside Cesaro. On the July 10 episode of Main Event, Cesaro wrestled against the returning Dolph Ziggler in singles action. After losing to Ziggler due to thwarted interference provided by Colter and Swagger at ring-side, Cesaro and his allies attempted to redeem their loss to Ziggler, proving unsuccessful once more. Along with Swagger, Cesaro competed in a Money in the Bank ladder match for a World Heavyweight Championship contract against several fellow heel wrestlers including Dean Ambrose, Fandango, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow and Wade Barrett at Money in the Bank which was ultimately won by Sandow. The following night on Raw, Cesaro and Swagger, now billed as The Real Americans, teamed together for the first time, but ended up being defeated by The Usos. Cesaro was defeated by Leo Kruger in a triple threat number one contenders match for the NXT Championship on the July 17 episode of NXT, the match also included Sami Zayn. On the August 21 episode of NXT, Cesaro defeated Zayn in a two-out-of-three falls match to conclude the feud.
During the Night of Champions pre-show, the Real Americans competed in a number one contender Tag Team Turmoil match for the WWE Tag Team Championship, in which they were the last team eliminated by The Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O'Neil). Simultaneously, the Real Americans began a feud with the returning Santino Marella after he defeated both of them in singles competition. On October 6 at Battleground, the Real Americans defeated Santino and The Great Khali in a tag team match. The Real Americans moved onto feuding with Los Matadores, culminating in a tag team match at Hell in a Cell, which Los Matadores won. The following night on Raw, the Real Americans defeated WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust.
In the beginning of 2014, The Real Americans competed against several tag teams (Rey Mysterio and Big Show/Sin Cara as well as the Usos), but weren't successful in winning. Cesaro also competed in the 30-man Royal Rumble match entering at number 21, but was eliminated by Roman Reigns. On the January 31 episode of SmackDown, Cesaro defeated Dolph Ziggler to earn a spot at the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship On the February 14 episode of SmackDown, while his ring name was shortened to "Cesaro", he defeated WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton in a non-title match. at Elimination Chamber, Cesaro was eliminated third by Cena via submission. On February 27, at NXT Arrival, Cesaro defeated Zyan for the fourth time and afterward the two embraced with Cesaro showing respect for Zayn.
Alliance with Paul Heyman and various storylines (2014-2015)
During the pre-show of WrestleMania XXX, The Real Americans were the final team eliminated during a fatal-four-way match elimination match for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Jack Swagger blamed Cesaro for the loss and put Cesaro in the Patriot Lock before Colter demanded that the duo to shake hands. Cesaro instead retaliated with a Cesaro Swing on Swagger. Later during the pay-per-view, Cesaro was a surprise entrant in the "André the Giant Memorial battle royal", which he won by lastly eliminating Big Show by body slamming him out of the ring, which mirrored Hulk Hogan's momentous body slam of Andre.
On the post-WrestleMania Raw, Cesaro's victory was endorsed by Hogan. Cesaro proceeded to dump Colter as his manager, instead revealing that he was a new client of Paul Heyman. Cesaro would compete in the Intercontinental Championship Tournament to determine the number one contender for the championship at Extreme Rules, beating Mark Henry in the quarter-finals, but losing to Rob Van Dam via countout in the semifinals due to interference from Swagger and Colter. This led to a triple threat match at Extreme Rules against Van Dam and Swagger, which Cesaro won. Cesaro then fought United States Champion Sheamus to a double countout on the May 13 episode of Main Event. On the May 19 episode of Raw, Cesaro defeated Sheamus in a non-title rematch due to some slight interference from Heyman, setting up the title match at Payback, which Sheamus won, ending Cesaro's winning streak since joining Heyman. On June 9, Cesaro defeated Rob Van Dam to qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match for the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which was won by Randy Orton.
After Money in the Bank, Cesaro suffered losses to the likes of Kofi Kingston and Big E Langston in singles matches. Cesaro competed in a battle royal for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship at Battleground, but was eliminated by Heath Slater. The following night on Raw, Cesaro ended his partnership with Paul Heyman. On the July 28 episode of Raw, Cesaro lost to WWE World Heavyweight Champion John Cena, and on the August 1 episode of SmackDown, Cesaro would lose to former tag team partner, Jack Swagger. At SummerSlam Cesaro was defeated by Rob Van Dam in a pre-show match. On the August 25 episode of Raw, Cesaro defeated Rob Van Dam to become the number one contender for Sheamus' WWE United States Championship at Night of Champions, where Cesaro lost. Cesaro won a battle royal on the September 26 episode of SmackDown to determine the number one contender to Dolph Ziggler's Interncontinental Championship, however he was unsuccessful in capturing the title later that night. He also failed to capture the title in a two out of three falls match at Hell in a Cell, losing two consecutive falls, and again on the November 14 Smackdown after being eliminated first by Tyson Kidd in a triple threat elimination match. On the November 17 episode of Raw, Cesaro teased a face turn as he appeared to be the final member of Cena's team, but it was a ruse as he turned back to join Team Authority against Team Cena at Survivor Series, remaining a heel.
Teaming with Tyson Kidd (2015)
In a December 2014 interview, where Stone Cold Steve Austin asked Vince McMahon why Cesaro had not gotten over yet and asked whether Cesaro was getting a proper push. McMahon replied that Cesaro was lacking in charisma, verbal skills and the "it" factor, "might be because he's Swiss ... and the European style". McMahon concluded that he was not certain what could be done to restore Cesaro's momentum, but McMahon was not giving up.
In late 2014, Cesaro and Tyson Kidd teamed to try and become the #1 contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championships, but were unsuccessful doing so. Shortly after, on the December 18th episode of Superstars, the duo successfully defeated Los Matadores, and debuted a new double team finishing move. On the December 29th episode of Raw, Cesaro was defeated by the returning Bad News Barrett. The duo of Cesaro and Kidd yet again defeated Los Matadores on the January 2nd episode of SmackDown!, and were given their own entrance video using footage of both men, and Cesaro's music. At Royal Rumble 2015, the duo aligned themselves with Adam Rose and Natalya, Kidd's wife, and scored a victory over The New Day, briefly becoming the Brass Ring Club. Soon after, Rose split from the faction. At Fastlane 2015, the duo captured the WWE Tag Team Championship from the The Usos and proceeded to retain them in a for team Tag match, against The Usos, Los Matadores, and The New Day at WrestleMania XXXI. At Extreme Rules 2015, Cesaro & Kidd lost the belts, against the The New Day, due to New Day cheating their way for their titles. At Payback 2015, they failed to re-capture the titles. At Elimination Chamber 2015 ever Tag Team Elimination Chamber match for the chance to capture the Tag Titles, which once again Kidd & Cesaro failed to do, their team eliminated third. Sadly, during a dark match, Tyson Kidd was injured while facing against Samoa Joe, temporarily ending their partnership. Cesaro returned to singles competition, facing Kevin Owens in a losing effort on WWE Smackdown, in an open challenge for the WWE NXT Championship. On June 30, episode of RAW, Cesaro faced John Cena in an open challenge for the WWE United States Championship, however while he did win, it was via disqualification, due to Kevin Owens attacking him, and then John Cena.
On the September 7 episode of Raw, Cesaro faced The Miz in a match that resulted in a double count-out. After the match, Cesaro was knocked out by Big Show. Cesaro started appearing on Superstars and Main Event defeating the likes of Heath Slater, Bo Dallas and Adam Rose. In the Hell in a Cell kickoff show, Cesaro teamed up with Dolph Ziggler and Neville to defeat Rusev, Sheamus, and King Barrett. Cesaro defeated Sheamus on the November 9 episode of Raw to advance to the quarterfinals in a tournament to crown a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion at Survivor Series after previous champion Seth Rollins injured his knee at a house show in Dublin, but lost to Roman Reigns in the semi-finals on November 16. On November 23, WWE announced that Cesaro needed surgery for a torn left shoulder rotator cuff muscle that had been injured for at least two months, and that would leave him out of action for four to six months.
Return (2016 - Present)
Cesaro made his return from injury at the April 4, 2016 episode of Raw, where he replaced Sami Zayn in a Fatal Four-Way match between himself, Kevin Owens, AJ Styles and Chris Jericho to determine the #1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but the match was won by Styles. He then teamed with Styles to defeat Owens and Jericho in a tag team march on Smackdown. On the April 11, 2016 edition of Raw, Cesaro defeated Kevin Owens to become the #1 contender for the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Cesaro would feud with current champ The Miz, resulting in a match at WWE Payback. However, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens would cost Cesaro the title at the PPV. Cesaro would receive another shot at Extreme Rules in a Fatal Four Way Match for the title against Miz, Zayn, and Owens. However, he lost when Zayn hit him with a Helluva Kick and Miz stole the victory.
- Finishing moves
- As Antonio Cesaro
- As Claudio Castagnoli
- Alpamare Waterslide (Side Death Valley driver)
- Inverted Chikara Special (Kneeling step-over head-hold armbar to a face down opponent followed by hooking the opponent's near leg) – Chikara
- Lasartesse Lift (Karelin lift transitioned into a side piledriver) – 2007
- Neutralizer (Over the shoulder single leg Boston crab with neckscissors – PWG; used as a regular move elsewhere
- Ricola Bomb (Straight jacket sitout powerbomb pin, sometimes from the top rope)
- Roaring Swiss Uppercut (Discus European uppercut)
- Swiss Death / Very European Uppercut (Pop-up European uppercut)
- Signature moves
- Bicycle kick
- Delayed vertical suplex
- Cesaro Swing (Giant Swing)
- Jim Breaks Special (Lifting wrist-lock)
- Match Killer (Horizontal back to belly suplex spun out into a sitout facebuster)
- Money Dive (Diving headbutt)
- Multiple European uppercut variations
- Ricola-Plex (Straight jacket suplex)
- Suicide dive
- Cranial Crank (Swinging Sleeper Hold)
- UBS Neckbreaker (Backbreaker rack flipped into a cutter)
- UFO (Spinning backbreaker rack, sometimes with no hands)
- Swiss19 (Tiger feint kick) – 2016–present
- Bridging fallaway slam
- German suplex
- Double underhook powerbomb
- With Tyson Kidd
- Finishing moves
- Straight jacket powerbomb (Cesaro) and diving neckbreaker (Kidd) combination
- Finishing moves
- "Double C"
- "The Most Money Making Man"
- "The Stalwart Swiss Powerhouse"
- "Very European"
- "The Swiss Sensation"
- "The Swiss Superman"
- "The Swiss Superstar"
- "The Paul Heyman Guy"
- "A Real American"
- "The King Of Swing"
- "The Swiss Cyborg"
- Tag teams and stables
- Entrance themes
- "I've Got to Have It (Instrumental)" by Jermaine Dupri featuring Nas and Monica
- "We Are the Champions" by Queen (Used while teaming with Chris Hero)
- "1812 Overture" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
- "Engel" by Rammstein (Used while a part of the Bruderschaft des Kreuzes)
- "KoW (Kings)" by Cody B. Ware, Emilio Sparks and J. Glaze (Used while teaming with Chris Hero)
- "Im Namen Der Bruderschaft" by Kenny Pickett (Used while a part of the Bruderschaft des Kreuzes)
- "Miracle" by Jim Johnston (WWE)
- "Patriot" By CFO$ (Used while apart of The Real Americans)
- "Swiss Made" by CFO$ (WWE)
- Wrestlers trained
Championships and accomplishments
- Cleveland All-Pro Wrestling
- CAPW Unified Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Combat Zone Wrestling
- German Stampede Wrestling
- GSW Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Ares
- Independent Wrestling Association: Switzerland
- IWA Switzerland World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #44 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2011
- Ring of Honor
- Swiss Wrestling Federation
- SWF Powerhouse Championship (2 times)
- SWF Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Ares
- Westside Xtreme Wrestling
- wXw World Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- wXw Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Ares
- World Wrestling Entertainment