At the start of 2019, it already felt like the year of Orange Cassidy. As billions of people around the world celebrated another year of barely staving off global cataclysm, many thousands of wrestling fans celebrated the crowning of our new freshly squeezed king. Moments before the clock struck midnight, independent wrestling’s favorite denim clown pinned Hot Sauce Tracy Williams for the IWTV Independent Wrestling Championship.
There is certainly a case to be made that Orange Cassidy is wrestler of the year, and I am making that case. For the uninitiated, Orange Cassidy is a wrestler so lazy he can’t give a full thumbs-up. In a rare out of character interview from 2017, Orange explained his character as “a wrestler who doesn’t want to wrestle.” If you shake his hand, it will be limp. If you buy merch from him, there is a good chance he will drop your change on the floor rather than expending the effort of reaching out and handing it to you. He is cool, he is calm, and he doesn’t want to do anything. If he has to, well, his hands are staying in his pockets. And don’t even think about taking away his sunglasses.
The man underneath the aviators is, in fact, a tremendously talented, experienced professional wrestler (who rumor has it has wrestled as other, non-comedic characters in certain kayfabe-obsessed masked companies). Orange Cassidy has spent the better part of a decade evolving his character from a passed out dirtbag puking on Drew Gulak to a fine-tuned icon of lazy cool.
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According to Cagematch, Orange Cassidy has wrestled 80 matches so far in 2019 (as of the writing of this article). His two reigns with the (Jansport-encased) IWTV Title saw bouts with indy stalwarts like Eddie Kingston, up-and-comers like Kris Statlander (to whom he lost the title), and fellow comedy wrestlers like Kikutaro, RD Evans, and Stokely Hathaway. Orange Cassidy made his PWG debut at Mystery Vortex VI to the biggest pop of the night, competed in BOLA, wrestled Velveteen Dream in Evolve after fans demanded it, faced TAKA Michinoku at Joey Janela’s Spring Break, and made such a huge impression by softly kicking Tommy Dreamer in the Double or Nothing preshow that AEW signed him in August.
If AEW Dynamite is anything to go by, Orange Cassidy might be the most over wrestler in the United States today. Fans, including adorable children (and company president Tony Khan), dress up as him to go to shows. The camera will often zoom in on him when commentary plugs AEW’s merch site, even though Orange Cassidy’s iconic shirt (featuring a black and white photo of Orange Cassidy wearing a shirt with a black and white photo of Orange Cassidy on it) is only available for purchase directly from Cassidy himself.
Wrestling’s professional curmudgeons all hate him, condemning him as being a one-note joke wrestler who’s killing the business or whatever. There are certainly wrestlers out there who have built entire careers out of being one-note joke wrestlers. Orange Cassidy is not one of them. The gimmick works just as well in a serious match as in a comedic one, as he has proved time and time again, particularly in the last year. What is more powerful than a character who doesn’t give a fuck realizing that actually they do give a fuck this time? How important must something be, how impressive must an opponent be, to make Orange Cassidy care, even a little bit?
At the close of 2019, we have Orange Cassidy on national television almost every week. Crowds cheer for him, even though many of them haven’t seen him wrestle outside of the two battle royals and one trios match he’s done in AEW. For the curious, it’s as easy as searching “Orange Cassidy” on YouTube, which I assume many have. Some of his best work is online for free. Falling in love with the bit is easy, and it couldn’t be more rewarding to realize that it just keeps getting better the deeper you go.
So here’s to you Orange Cassidy. Let’s hope I’m sneakily plagiarizing myself 52 weeks from now and naming you my wrestler of 2020.
- IWTV Championship: Tracy Williams (c) vs Orange Cassidy, New Years (Beyond Wrestling, YouTube)
- Grammy’s Street Fight for the IWTV Championship: Orange Cassidy (c) vs Stokely Hathaway, February, 2019 (Beyond Wrestling, YouTube)
- IWTV Championship: Orange Cassidy (c) vs Kylie Rae, April, 2019 (Beyond Wrestling, YouTube)
- IWTV Championship: Orange Cassidy (c) vs Joey Janela, May, 2019 (ICW, YouTube)
- Title vs Career: Orange Cassidy vs RD Evans, July, 2019 (Beyond Wrestling Americanrana, IWTV)