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a skittish start, Willia

  • 04 Jul
    The role of an underdog is an unusual one for a 6-foot-5 muscle-bound wrestler, but its a role that?Cesaro?has been all-too-familiar with over the course of his tenure in the WWE. The 35-year-old Swiss superman has?seemingly had to fight for every inch and accolade he has achieved on wrestlings biggest stage, but he has faced down each challenge as it has come along -- becoming a popular character in the WWE universe in the process.This has been especially apparent over the last few weeks on Raw, as Cesaro took on?Sheamus?in a best-of-seven series between the two European giants. He was once again positioned as the lesser of the two superstars in?going down three wins to none against Sheamus. Yet despite his character being backed into a corner with several different parts of his body encased in kinesiology tape, the series is now tied 3-3 with the deciding match set for Sunday at the Clash of Champions on pay-per-view.Both the concept and the execution have received polarized reactions from fans, but in getting the opportunity to play out on screen the kind of uphill battle he has faced in his career, and getting to do it in a format that hasnt been used in the WWE in upwards of a decade, Cesaro has relished the opportunity.I do love this kind of program, Cesaro said during a conference call with several media outlets Monday afternoon, as part of a promotional effort for the WWEs upcoming U.K. tour in early November. Its not often we get the chance in WWE to do something like that. To me, its the closest to the old days when it was all about the wrestling, all about me against Sheamus in the ring without anything on the outside. It has this real sports feel. I kind of had my back against the wall, you know, its best-of-seven. I do definitely love it.Well, I feel, from a company standpoint, like theres a lot of trust that goes into this, Sheamus concurred before the start of the series. Because to have seven matches, or at least a best-of-seven ... theres a lot of confidence bestowed on both of us. People know we can go. People know we hit hard. We bring a lot of realism to our matches.I think over my career, if you look at it in WWE, Sheamus has always been one of my biggest adversaries, Cesaro said, and one of the ones I would like to say I had some very memorable bouts with. Its definitely fun to be in the ring with him.The winner of the series is set to receive a title opportunity, and it could be another chance to jump-start Cesaros often promising WWE career. It remains a work in progress, to this point, as the 16-year veteran, who made a name for himself as Claudio Castagnoli on the independent scene in promotions such as Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla before signing for WWE in 2011, tries to break through a ceiling that has kept him from reaching the very top of the wrestling world. Cesaro was seemingly on the cusp of such a breakthrough as a singles star in late 2015 when a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder halted his momentum.He underwent surgery and returned to action in April, and Cesaro has built a growing fan base which has supported him with entire swaths of the crowd holding up Cesaro Section signs -- establishing a persistently visible presence among Raw crowds. The Lucerne, Switzerland, native has already tasted a certain level of success in WWE, winning the United States championship, the tag-team championships with?Tyson Kidd?and the first Andre?the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania in 2014. But it is not enough for Cesaro, who feels he has what it takes to reach higher.I wanted to be [world] champion by now, and I havent achieved that, Cesaro said, when asked if he felt he had made the progress he wanted to since returning from injury.Despite the tape he wears on his previously injured left shoulder, and other areas of his body at times, Cesaro is back at full strength and attempting to prove he has what it takes to grab the ball and run with it.The journey ahead seems still so long, but Im happy I came back 100 percent, he continued. I didnt come back 70 percent or something. Im getting better every day. Im just enjoying myself. Trying to approach it a little bit different. Just having more fun, especially in the ring, and letting the fans have fun with me together, from my new entrance to the whole thing.The Swiss superman character Cesaro has portrayed on WWE programming since returning has been a big positive step for him. His entrance features Cesaro walking out in a suit in front of a TitanTron video that mimics the famous opening credits sequence of James Bond films; he then tears off his Velcro tux and transforms into the Swiss superman before walking down to the ring for his match.Cesaros tale of frustration was a similar one to?Kevin Owens early this year, as he and his former running buddy on the independent scene languished with the mythical brass ring seemingly just out of both mens reach. Their?perceived places in the WWE hierarchy were solidified in July during the WWE brand separation draft as Owens was drafted in the fourth round, 18th overall, and Cesaro didnt go until Round 6, 28th overall.That all changed with Owens shocking Universal-title victory on Raw in late August.Kevin was drafted higher than me, and he was frustrated. Im even more frustrated than him, Cesaro said. He had quite the run. If you look at it, hes been in WWE for a little over two years. The things he achieved in a very short period of time -- it might be unprecedented. As a fellow colleague of his, whos been on the independents with him -- Ive known him for over 10 years -- Im very happy with his success. He definitely deserves it.As Cesaro pursues similar levels of success, its clear he realizes that his path to the WWEs top championships will have to be different.For me its a little bit of a different road, Cesaro said. But if there are mountains to climb, I think as a Swiss man youre the proper mountaineer to do it. So thats something Im looking forward to.When you pursue the level of success that Cesaro seeks in the WWE, its hard not to second guess yourself sometimes. Theres no real sense of self-doubt with Cesaro, but he does acknowledge that his approach to the business and low-key demeanor dont lend themselves to self-promotion.I feel like Ive been working magic for the past four years in WWE, Cesaro said, and maybe its the European in me, or the Swiss in me, that Im not at the forefront bragging and constantly boasting about my achievements. I let my actions do the talking, and that might take a little bit longer for people to see.During his WWE tenure, Cesaro has had to deal with the added pressure of trying to be as entertaining on a microphone as he is in the ring, but feels hes undeservedly stereotyped as being a poor talker.I actually can talk if you let me, he said. Thats always funny, because people always say that I cant, but the thing is, you havent seen me on the mic a lot. I dont really get that many chances. And if I do, its usually pretty good.Certain people get maybe a reputation, and people keep repeating it, and that just becomes their stigma, Cesaro continued. Im not saying Im Mr. Microphone over here, but I can certainly hold my own. Ive been fortunate enough to get the chance to prove it lately, and Im looking forward to getting to prove it some more going forward. The guys who talk are a select few, and Im working my way to get there.One person Cesaro has seemingly struggled to fully win over is Vince McMahon. The WWE owner told Steve Austin on an edition of the Stone Cold Podcast in December 2014 that Cesaro was lacking in charisma, verbal skills and the it factor, and Austin said he did not know what Cesaro needed to do to raise his game.WWE legends including Austin, Ric Flair and Mick Foley have all previously criticized WWE for not pushing Cesaro as a main-event talent, given his natural ability in the ring.I feel like Im connecting pretty good, Cesaro said, however. If you see the Cesaro section, when I go out there, it is definitely not silent, and I have a huge fan base all over the world. Of course, theres always room for improvement. Im the first one to always criticize myself, and Im trying to find ways to get better. If people say stuff like that, that I maybe not agree with, Im doing my best and working my hardest to prove them wrong.Again, the timing of his injury couldnt have been much worse. He was part of a tournament to crown a new WWE world heavyweight champion, with several high-profile showdowns with true main-event talent just before going down in November.I got hurt when I was starting to really take off, Cesaro said. Now I feel like I have to start from scratch again, which I have [had] to do so often. But it definitely felt like I was on a roll. And Im still on a roll. Its just definitely being in the right place at the right time or being the right person. Its kind of hard sometimes, but I feel like if Im consistently delivering, which is what I do, sooner or later it cant be denied.Whatever the future holds for Cesaro in WWE, he is still humble.Sometimes I have to kind of stop and take it in, he said. To me, I dont like to look back, I just like to look forward. Its such a long journey still ahead for me. Every now and then I see a picture of when I started, or I go to an arena -- we were just at the O2 [Arena in London] last week, and thats where I made my WWE debut on WWE TV. Its just crazy to think that that was over four years ago. If I look back on when I was on the indies in the U.S., and ever further when I was in Europe, its just kind of amazing how I made it this far. Dennis Gardeck Jersey . Speaking to the Chicago Tribune at baseballs Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Boras called the former home of the Expos a "tremendous environment" for baseball. Hakeem Butler Jersey . Its sharpness matched my mind. This was no night to go to sleep. [url=http://www.cheaparizonacardinalsjerseysauthentic.com/?tag=authentic-pita-taumoepenu-jersey]http://www.cheaparizonacardinalsjerseysauthentic.com/?tag=authentic-pita-taumoepenu-jersey . Mitch Holmberg added a goal and three assists. Connor Chartier also scored for the Chiefs (3-0-0). Luke Harrison spoiled Garrett Hughsons shutout bid with a power-play goal at 13:17 of the third period. The Spokane goaltender finished with 28 saves, including a Brandon Fushimi penalty shot in the second period that would have tied the game 1-1. Marcus Gilbert Jersey . PAUL, Minn. Charles Clay Jersey . But Bourque, who has missed three games with a lower-body injury, wont be in the lineup when the Habs travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres on Wednesday.MADRID, Spain -- Rafael Nadal reached his seventh consecutive final since returning from a knee injury by brushing aside wild card Pablo Andujar 6-0, 6-4 at the Madrid Open on Saturday. Nadal had little trouble extending his winning streak in clay-court semifinals to 46 matches, polishing off his overmatched Spanish countryman after winning the first six games on the outdoor red clay. Nadal will now have a shot at his fifth title since coming back from a seven-month layoff healing his left knee. "I couldnt have asked for a better run of results," said Nadal, a two-time champion in the Spanish capital. "Five months ago I wouldnt have dreamed of this return. I want to thank all those who supported me through that time." He will play Stanislas Wawrinka after the 15th-ranked Swiss recovered late on to edge out Tomas Berdych, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will play for both the No. 1 ranking and the womens title after each won her semifinal in straight sets. Nadal outclassed Andujar at the start. The clay-court experts surgical groundstrokes were usually enough to force Andujar to make errors -- and if not, Nadal knew when to go for a winner or approach the net to finish off the point. The worst moment for the 113th-ranked Andujar came when he ceded his third straight service game with a double fault. But in the second set Andujar shook off his jitters and had three break points for a 4-2 lead, only for Nadal to dig out of the hole and hold his serve. "I played a very, very good first set, playing aggressively," Nadal said. "Pablo played more aggressively in the second set and had a chance at a break, but luckily it got away from him." The top-ranked Williams will have a chance to win her 50th career title after beating Sara Errani of Italy 7-5, 6-2, while No. 2 Sharapova recorded her 500tth career win at all levels after seeing off Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-3.dddddddddddd Both Williams, the defending champion, and Sharapova arrive to their final in good form and with numbers to back up their bid for a title. Sharapova has won all 10 sets she has played at the tournament, while Williams boasts a 12-2 record against the Russian. "Of course its always tough against her," Sharapova said about Williams. "I havent had a win against her in a long time. But the great thing is that Im setting myself up in a position where I can try to change that around." After a skittish start, Williams rolled by Errani and broke her final service game in both sets. "I feel I played solid," Williams said. "In the second set more than in the first, I made a few less errors, which is something I needed to do." Williams said Sharapova would pose a different challenge from her previous opponents this week. "I feel this whole tournament I have only played clay-court opponents," said Williams. "All have been smaller than me. Tomorrow will be a different game, more power." On Sunday, Williams will play her first final on red clay since 2002. Last years trophy at the Caja Magica came on the experimental blue clay surface that was removed following players complaints it was too slippery. Sharapova said she was proud to have notched her 500th win. "That number is pretty significant," she said. "(And) no, (it) doesnt make me feel like a veteran." Berdych was on the brink of making his second straight final in Madrid after coming from behind to level with Wawrinka at a set apiece and then building a 4-2 lead in the third. But the Czech player squandered two break points at that stage and Wawrinka found a second wind to rally back. Wawrinka won the Portugal Open last Sunday. 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