Tony Khan says Orange Cassidy has exceeded all of his expectations in AEW.
Since his debut for the promotion at their inaugural event in May 2019, Orange Cassidy's role within AEW has evolved. The man who started out as the silent friend of Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor has become one of AEW's most featured performers, doing everything from challenging Kenny Omega for the World Title to battling Chris Jericho in a Mimosa Mayhem Match.
During a recent appearance on Busted Open Radio, AEW President Tony Khan shared that he originally viewed Cassidy as someone who would be a manager, but was quickly proven wrong by a man who has become one of the company's biggest stars.
"In the production meeting, the first year, and JR, not under his breath said something about how stupid the whole thing was in the first year. I said, in front of everyone because Jim called me out in front of the whole room, 'Jim, this is getting over and doing ratings every single time. We've barely scratched the surface of what the guy can do and he's actually a really good wrestler. Give him a chance and talk to him because he's a very intelligent wrestling person once you get to know him. We've barely scratched the surface, trust me.' A lot of people might not like it, but frankly, he's become one of our big stars. That's the best example of someone exceeding what I thought they could do coming in. I thought he would be a manager, mostly, coming in," Khan said.
Khan continued on, saying that once he realized Cassidy used to perform as Fire Ant on the independent circuit, he formulated the idea for how they would unveil his incredible in-ring talents.
"Once I realized how gifted he actually is, I had no idea Orange Cassidy was actually Fire Ant when I first met him. Once I realized that was the same guy and he actually is a great pro wrestler, I came up with the idea, 'let's hide that for six to eight months and not show anyone all the stuff you can do until the first Revolution and that's where you make your big debut in your first real match and where you show people you can really wrestle. Don't do anything until then.' It worked really well and we have a lot of big stars, but that's one person that always moves the needle for us," he said.
While Cassidy may not be everyone's cup of tea, Khan says that he is, on the whole, a huge net positive for the company in terms of bringing in viewers.
"They matter. I get that some people don't like it, but it's net positive. It's like making a profit. Sometimes you spend money, but you have to bring in more than you spend. He is a big-net positive. There might be people that don't like him, but more people turn the TV on and click on his videos because of him. With every wrestler, there are pros and cons, but it's about what they do on the net for the company. This guy is a huge net asset and brings in a lot of people," Khan explained.
Tony concluded by detailing when he first truly understood Orange's character and the psychology behind his actions.
Same as you, I didn't get it, what really clicked to me the first time was when he talked to me about the kicks. I asked him, 'what is the deal with that? It's the weakest offense.' He said, 'It's not an offense' and he explained what it is and I realized, 'it's like a taunt?' 'Yeah, exactly.' That explained the psychology of everything. Then he told me that there is only one person dumb enough to ever sell the kicks. I kept telling them not to. You're not supposed to. It's not offense. When you realize nobody ever sold it in the history of AEW because it's not meant to be sold, it opens up the mind," he said.
Cassidy recently qualified for the Face of the Revolution Ladder Match and is set to vie for a TNT Championship opportunity at Revolution on March 6. To view the full card for the event, click here.
During the March 2 episode of AEW Dynamite, Tony Khan announced that he had acquired Ring of Honor. Click here to learn more.
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