Two weekends ago, NXT TakeOver came to Brooklyn and for reasons unknown to myself, NXT’s Jersey Boys, Enzo Amore and Big Cass, didn’t get a chance to shine on a show that seemed like a no-brainer to have them on in front of a hot hometown audience. Needless to say, it will only be a matter of time before these two certified Gs get their chance to make it big within WWE, but this hot double act has had a wild ride in getting to where they are today.
From New York to Florida
It was in August of 1987 when Colin Cassady, real name William Morrissey, was brought into the world in Queens, NY. The lifelong wrestling fan Morrissey studied as a Pre-Med student on a scholarship from New York University before switching to economics. While at NYU, Morrissey played basketball, aptainingthe team in his senior year.. From there he started his own ticket brokerage company and also spent his spare time busking in New York City’s subways.
But it wasn’t until he enlisted in WUWs (The World of Unbelievable Wrestling) wrestling school, run by WWE Hall of Famer, Johnny Rodz, that his wrestling dream began to take shape.In 2010, that dream would become a reality as Morrissey made his debut under the name of “Big” Bill Young, a Southern cowboy on WUW shows, which couldn’t have been easy for the native New Yorker.
In June of 2011, Morrissey was signed to a developmental deal by WWE and sent to Florida Championship Wrestling. He dropped the cow rustler shtick and was given a college dean persona instead. By the time Morrissey made his FCW Television debut, he was called Colin Cassady and he was more or less gimmick-less in his matches against the likes of Richie Steamboat, Aiden English and Kenneth Cameron (now known as Bram in Impact Wrestling).
By the time FCW was rebranded to become NXT, Cassady’s character hadn’t progressed much from being just another big man and, even though he had a decent amount of charisma, he didn’t showcase it enough and therefore didn’t stand out.As a result, he didn’t gain much success in his matches. Cassady was in danger of being lost in the shuffle in WWEs developmental system, as this was highlighted in a cut scene from ESPN’s “E60: Behind the Curtain,” where Triple H ponders if he should be cut loose or not:
“The day of developmental being a career choice is over,’ because it’s unfair to the talent[Colin Cassady], so we’ll give him a bit more time to see if he’s progressing. If he is, and isn’t just being carried by someone else, he’ll stick around.”
Luckily, he wasn’t cut loose and it was thanks, in part, to being paired with a loudmouthed “Jersey Bro” by the name of Enzo Amore.
He Who Dares, Wins!
Enzo Amore has had a much different journey than his future tag team partner. Born Eric Ardnt in Hackensack, NJ, he found out about pro wrestling like most young children of his generation, by watching it on television. And like many children of that same generation, Shawn Michaels was the man he idolised. In a story he told NorthJersey.com back in 2013, he recalls how much he idolized The Heartbreak Kid:
“All [my classmates] drew pictures of themselves as police officers and firemen, army guys, teachers and nurses, I drew myself as wearing a leather vest, with leather chaps, with a long mullet, and hearts all over me because I idolized [former WWE superstar] Shawn Michaels and his never-say-die attitude.”
As he grew older, Ardnt put this dream on the backburner by pursuing a career in journalism at Salisbury University and playing NCAA football for the Division III Salisbury Seagulls as a linebacker and safety between 2007 and 2009. He would hold a wide range of jobs after he left college including working as a piano mover, a restaurant manager and most notably as a DJ for the New York Jets.
Amore had no wrestling training or experience when he was picked up by WWE after a chance encounter with WWE Superstar and Chief Operating Officer, Triple H.
Since 2001 Ardnt had been a regular at Joe DeFranco’s gym in New Jersey. DeFranco is a world famous sports performance specialist, with a hugely successful gym franchise as well as a long list of celebrity clients from the sports and entertainment world, and Ardnt would become close with DeFranco. Triple H began working closely with DeFranco in 2010 to change his fitness regime, and it wasn’t long before Ardnt got word that a WWE superstar was now one of DeFranco’s clients. In a move that took a hell of a lot of gumption, Ardnt made a video of himself cutting promos and doing various exercises and passed it to DeFranco, who in turn presented it to Hunter.
Triple H liked what he saw in Ardnt and gave him a WWE tryout, which was some how successful. It’s nothing short of amazing that Ardnt was signed with no actual wrestling experience, but it’s a testament to his character, his determination and his attitude that he succeeded where many others wouldn’t even attempt such a move.
In August 2012, Ardnt was signed to a WWE development deal under the alias of Eric Anthony and by November of that year, his name was changed to Enzo Amore. It wasn’t long before his childhood drawings of him being a wrestler would become a reality. Enzo would debut in NXT in May of 2013, in some losing efforts against Welsh powerhouse Mason Ryan, portraying an over-the-top stereotypical Jersey Shore type persona, which was pretty much his own personality turned up to 11.
Enzo Amore had beaten the odds and made it to the WWE, and soon another chance encounter he would have had years prior to him joining NXT would begin to take effect.
The Next Level
Before you think NXT was the place that Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady first met, allow me to enlighten you. It was actually on a basketball court in Manhattan where these two crossed paths back in 2002. Amore remembers fondly in an interview with Byron Saxon for WWE.com.
“During a game, I drove the lane and got clobbered but the referee never called foul. A little scuffle almost ensued with some players on the opposing team, but Colin had my back the whole time.”
From there the men bonded over the love of sports and wrestling, and nearly 10 years later they would both end up in Florida in an NXT ring. Talk about a small world.
After both men had lost singles matches to Mason Ryan, Cassady and Amore got paired together on TV. The two old pals picked up where they left off in Manhattan. While Enzo and Colin have plenty in common, they have a world of differences in relation to wrestling, with both having dissimilar strengths and weaknesses. Amore has a ton of natural charisma and fantastic speech skills, Cassady is a big, muscular brute with plenty of power and strength, as well as good comic timing.
They gelled as a tandem in the ring, with Cassady, now known simply as Big Cass, as the main physical force of the team while Amore played the fiery underdog in peril. Outside of the ring, these two have slowly crafted a loud and in-your-face presence that draws parallels to the early buzz of the New Age Outlaws. Amore is nothing short of stellar on the microphone and he instantly grabs your attention with his exquisite verbiage and charismatic intensity. He has the ability to hold the crowd in the palm of his hand, as they hang on every word he utters,similar to “Road Dogg” Jesse James. Big Cass seems to be playing the Billy Gunn role, keeping his words short and sweet, he makes the team look credible with his impressive stature and semi-serious demeanour.
It’s been two years since they first teamed together, and even though the team have suffered setbacks (Enzo Amore’s broken leg in Nov 2013, though the lay-off gave Cassady a chance to blossom), the team have gathered a great deal of momentum and have amassed a formidable fanbase.
In that time they have also added a valet, Carmella, who has given them another dimension in terms of character development, storyline progression and entertainment value. She has a fair share of charisma and she blends in well with the Jersey Shore theme Enzo and Cass possess.
Missing the Boat!
With rumours of a main roster call up swirling around in recent weeks and months, perhaps better things are on the horizon for Amore and Cass. Whether they are ready for the main roster remains to be seen, but they definitely have the presence, the charisma and the bravery to become stars within WWE’s big league.
And they can be placed in a wide variety of positions character-wise. They can, for example, continue their New Age Outlaws tribute act and make it their own, or perhaps they can go down a Shawn and Diesel road in which Big Cass is the muscle for the big-mouthed heel in Amore. They could even give Amore the manager role if the wanted to push Big Cass as a singles act considering the success Xavier Woods is having as the main mouthpiece of The New Day.
While they both still have much to learn between the ropes, their in-ring abilities can continue to improve in the coming months whether they get promoted or not and they are more than capable of carving a spot for themselves in WWE’s main product and their characters have the potential to appeal to a wide audience in many different ways when the time comes.
I won’t lie when I say I am disappointed that they weren’t going for the titles at TakeOver: Brooklyn, but what ever the future holds I’m sure Enzo and Big Cass will make the most of any opportunity that comes their way.