wrestling / Columns

Orange Cassidy Proved He Is More Than A Controversial Gimmick At AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door

June 30, 2022 | Posted by Kelly Sullivan
Orange Cassidy AEW Rampage Image Credit: AEW

As AEW moved from a cool idea into reality in 2019, the roster had more questions than answers at the start. The brain trust of the promotion knew they had a handful of stars that could carry the main event scene for a while in Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks, Chris Jericho, and John Moxley.

But they were obviously hoping that along the way some of their other lesser-known talents would be able to get over with their crowds as well. AEW hit some home runs as strong booking helped to create “homegrown” stars such as “Hangman” Adam Page, MJF, and Darby Allin, as these performers received massive crowd reactions at each and every turn.

But one such talent that was unexpectedly having his star grow with each appearance on AEW Dynamite was Orange Cassidy.

It is easy to see why “Hangman”, MJF, and Darby all took off so quickly. The alcohol-drinking redneck had been done before in WWE with just a tad bit of success and Page rode that blueprint to his own brand of popularity.

MJF’s skills on the microphone quickly put him on the map in AEW. Those skills coupled with costing Cody Rhodes – who at the time was one of the most popular wrestlers in AEW – the chance to ever challenge for the AEW Title again, really propelled MJF to a top heel.

Darby Allin was that newcomer who came along that intrigued the audience. The antihero with the painted face that gave off Sting vibes but whose style in the ring was reminiscent of a young Jeff Hardy made it obvious that AEW had something special in Allin.

Orange Cassidy had none of this. But, what Orange Cassidy had going for him was his originality. Never before had we seen a professional wrestler as carefree as Cassidy. No one else had ever wrestled at length with their hands in their own pockets. No one else had ever stood toe-to-toe with some of the baddest men in the promotion and delivered the lethargic “kicks of doom.” And no one else had ever failed to win a ladder match because of his lack of a desire to put in the needed effort to climb a ladder.

But Cassidy had done all of those things.

Whether it was his originality or just that the crowd related to his lethargic and apathetic character, Orange Cassidy quickly rose in the ranks as one of the most popular figures in AEW.

There are those that have never been fans of Cassidy and there are those that have grown tired of his routine and have become disenchanted with the character. So much so that his win in an unsanctioned, lights-out match over Adam Cole earlier this year created somewhat of a social media outrage.

As we drew closer to the Forbidden Door pay-per-view, and AEW stars CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, and MJF were all absent from the card, it left some holes that needed to be filled. When Tony Khan decided that Orange Cassidy would be the one to challenge Will Ospreay, widely considered one of the best professional wrestlers in the world, for the IWGP U.S. Title, there was yet another outcry.

How could AEW put Cassidy in such a high-profile match? As it turns out, the decision was most likely an easy one.

Orange Cassidy was the perfect opponent for Will Ospreay at Forbidden Door for a number of reasons

First, Ospreay is indeed one of the best in the world, and Ospreay knows it.

Pairing Ospreay with Cassidy created match psychology that was best brought to life by this particular matchup. You have the arrogant champion looking down his nose at a challenger that he does not deem worthy of sharing a ring with him. While Cassidy’s laidback demeanor would be challenged to the hilt because of the disrespect he would be shown by his opponent on that night.

Next, Orange Cassidy’s gimmick overshadows some excellent in-ring abilities.

If you go down the list of what makes a wrestler excel in the ring you would probably list things like timing, diverse offensive repertoire, ability to tell a story, stamina, and ability to elicit a strong crowd reaction. When honestly rating Cassidy in all of these categories, he would come back with high marks each and every time.

You will have the haters that will say that Cassidy was carried in the match by the brilliance of Ospreay. But this simply is not true.

Ospreay is excellent and he has the ability to carry lesser performers to a good match. But the quality of the match that Ospreay and Cassidy gave us at Forbidden Door could not have happened without two excellent in-ring performers working off of each other.

You don’t have to like Orange Cassidy. You are within your right to complain about the gimmick and how overplayed it is. But at Forbidden Door, Cassidy made one thing clear to everyone:

He is a main event talent inside the ring.