There’s something quite captivating in the way that Orange Cassidy’s matches go, and the trajectory of his character since James Cipperly debuted him in 2012. From his humble indie beginnings to entering arenas while The Pixies’s “Where is My Mind” or Jefferson Airplane’s “Jane” plays him to the ring, you will remember Orange Cassidy.
While he initially came into the industry in Chikara in 2005 and ran alongside the stable The Colony from 2006 to 2019 as Fire Ant, the rest of the industry would take notice of Orange Cassidy, most notably in All Elite Wrestling.
Seeing him decked from top to bottom in casual denim wear at AEW’s Double or Nothing, the nonchalant purveyor of sunglasses drew laughter from the crowd with his lethargic demeanor, be it from his “kicks of doom”, where he shiftlessly kicks the shins of his opponents while he digs his hands into his pockets, or doing a suicide dive, also with his hands in his pockets.
Quickly, Cassidy won over fans and wrestlers alike, but everyone was waiting for him to finally show out and show what he was really made of. Yeah, his alliance with The Best Friends was entertaining as hell, but what can he actually do?
That answer was quickly answered at Revolution in 2020 when he faced off against that bastard, Pac. Initially seeming like a mismatch to the fresher viewer, these two would display amazing chemistry and fast-paced action with the adrenaline pumping from there until he soon lost to the Brit. One thing was for sure, however. Nobody was going to doubt the Freshley Squeezed wrestler. This is his moment.
Over time, he continued to be one of the most entertaining acts in the show, and one of the most popular, too. If kids weren’t donning the Darby Allin face paint, they were decked out in denim and sunglasses with a half-hearted thumbs up, just like their aloof and ambivalent hero.
And then the pandemic happened. So many things got interrupted. Cassidy didn’t have as many fans cheering him on as he did before Daily’s Place, but he kept trying. It’s all he knew to do. He tried against the likes of Chris Jericho, Miro, and Cody Rhodes, the latter of which gave him a heartbreaking loss in October of 2020 – that moment he sinks to his knees as Cody retained his TNT championship after a time-limit draw still gets to me. He reached for it, but knew, knew it wasn’t his.
Once more, it seemed Cassidy’s time when he faced Pac and then AEW champion Kenny Omega at Double or Nothing 2021, fresh out of the pandemic era of wrestling. The crowds were there, and he was still unsuccessful. Against his rival and against one of the industry’s best, he had nothing to be ashamed of, so he wasn’t. He moved on. Something bigwas waiting for him, anyway.
Of course, he’d get more opportunities with the TNT Championship, denied each and every time. He’d have moments with the likes of Sting and the matches with Will Ospreay – the one at Forbidden Door 2022, in particular, is among the best matches in either man’s career, but opportunity knocked once more in the guise of different gold – the then-All-Atlantic Championship.
In another chapter in his rivalry with Pac, Orange Cassidy won the belt on October 12, 2022, two years after his loss to Cody Rhodes. What happened next is nothing short of spectacular.
Akin to what the TNT Championship used to represent, Cassidy’s reign with the All-Atlantic, now International Championship took its toll on him as time wore on. To remain on top with this prize, one must sacrifice their soul and survive through the rigors and trials of combat. The King of Sloth Style bore that. It burned him to his core, but he had to carry it, as was his duty.
Orange tested his mettle against the members of the AEW roster and through various surprises such as Katsuyori Shibata (my favorite match of the reign) and Trent Seven. The champion would then be forced to clash against rival Kip Sabian before locking up with dear friend Trent Beretta in a manner that tested not just their physicality, but their bond.
Now, the normally stoic and hilarious relaxer was in another hell to survive – the emotional layer – when he had to defend against former friend Wheeler Yuta, and he’s come across on the other side. Unlike Orpheus of Thrace, he’s made it through the underworld and hasn’t had to look back, with his Eurydice still in his bag he carries to the ring.
At the time of writing, he’s at the level of champion where he lives with the toils of this fate but he forces everyone to truly understand his place. To understand where he is with the International Championship is to realize that this isn’t just a medal or trophy or status, it’s also a curse. It takes as much from you as you take from it – do you really want to earn it? Do you think that you, in your darkest moments looking for motivation and reason, can handle the responsibility?
He’s tired. He’s broken. He’s injured and exhausted and he’s beyond trying. So you’re going to have to bring everything inside of you and beyond to take it from him. He’s come too far. Even the bombastic, fast, and impressive Bandido could not overcome, but he understood and stands in the alliance.
Even Daniel Garcia, who is a professional wrestler masquerading as a sports entertainer could not replace the person who is the opposite. In their May 10, 2023 contest for the title, Garcia focused less on the theatrics and more on trying to stop Cassidy. Ultimately, Freshly Squeezed prevailed against Sports Entertainment.
The further Orange delves into this side of him, he’s taking more from his being and giving it out every night. You’re forced to deal with every fiber of him and work his matches the way he intends.
This, among the fluidity and agility, the comedy and heart, is what attracts fans to him. His ability to work at a high level while still entertaining is why many veterans love him and why many of his contemporaries and peers want to work with him. He is to the modern era what Kurt Angle was to the Attitude Era.
Orange Cassidy is a dependable worker, so it’s no wonder that Tony Khan keeps him in the position he’s in. The intangible aura of the character he’s created, coalesced with the work-rate and the entertainment factor keeps eyes on him. He’s funny, he’s heartbreaking, and he’s a work of art. A circle with tons of detail; a typical pop song with deep, intricate lyrics. When you sit down for an Orange Cassidy match, you’re going to get something complex, yet looks so simple from his looks to his performances, he makes it look so easy.
As Double or Nothing 2023 approaches and he enters a Casino Battle Royale with the belt, he faces twenty-one other men for the right to hold that title, there’s no telling what can happen. Maybe he knows this and enters the fray and chaos not to see if he can do it or to try, but to see if he’s still truly alive after all the belt has done to him. He could retain. One of the announced men could take it. Or a surprise debut or return could snatch it – maybe Miro or Andrade El Idolo. And that’s even if he makes it past young and rising star, Aussie Open’s Kyle Fletcher.
O.C. has fought many wars during this reign. He’s gotten up from things that should have left him flat. There’s no easy way to unseat him. To take the belt from him, you’re going to have to wield a tighter grip and clench that fist until he’s drained of every ounce of fighting spirit.
Until he is freshly squeezed.