So how does our United States champion spend Valentine’s Day?
“Antonio Cesaro goes to the gym like any other day,” the WWE superstar said. “To me, holidays don’t really mean much. I think that’s just part of me being dedicated to what I do. I workout on Christmas [Christkind], birthdays, Valentine’s Day.”
Cesaro, 32, takes pride in the amount of time and effort his life consumes to become a top pro wrestler/sports entertainer.
It’s his passion.
“In any sport to be successful, you need to have a big passion for it,” Cesaro said. “For me, that was clear from day one. I had my first match on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, in 2000 [Essen, Germany], so it was clear from the beginning you need to make sacrifices in order to be successful.
“A couple of years later I moved to the United States. I left my family and friends and started a new life essentially, because this is what I wanted to do. People don’t realize the sacrifices you have to make in order to be successful, also the dedication you need to have, and I would say I’m a pretty dedicated person.”
Valentine’s Day is everyday for Cesaro and his love, truly resonating every time he grabs a mic, walks to the ring, competes there.
“When I started doing it, I fell in love with it,” Cesaro said. “I was always into sports, always very active, when I was younger. I played every sport I could find. I played rugby for a bit. I got kicked out, and then I was looking for something else, and I found professional wrestling.”
Difficult to find in Switzerland, he was determined.
“It was something I watched as a kid, and I liked,” he said.
Television in Switzerland carried pro wrestling sparingly.
“I watched it on a German TV station in the early 1990s during the big wrestling boom,” he said. “There was some Japanese wrestling on a different channel. Then I started getting the DVDs and VHS tapes of wrestling from all over the world.”
When he signed with WWE in 2011, his complete transformation into Antonio Cesaro began.
His persona: arrogant, confident, condescending.
His look: shiningly chiseled.
His skill: outstanding.
Connect the lines, and fans can’t help but boo him.
Cesaro, one of the top rising superstars in WWE, is the first U.S. champ from Switzerland. He won the title at SummarSlam, defeating Santino Marella on the pre-show. His climb to superstardom began in Switzerland in 2000 with that debut match in Germany. To make it on the big stage in WWE is quite the challenge, especially if you hail from somewhere which is not known for pro wrestling/sports entertainment prowess.
“There is a traditional Swiss [amateur] wrestling that is very, very popular in Switzerland, and when I trained in professional wrestling, I was always very conscience to learn anything the correct way. There are many amateur wrestling throws and holds in professional wrestling.”
Cesaro first learned from Sig Masta Rappo, who he met in Switzerland. Rappo, who trained under WWE Hall of Famer Dory Funk Jr., was an active wrestler, and he took Cesaro with him throughout Europe.
“When I trained, you started with the basics, which was all amateur wrestling basics -- takedown, takedown defense. I was very fortunate to have that kind of training.”