During the post WrestleMania superstar shake up, Big Cass, the grappler that originally made his name in the tag team division, returned to the WWE after an eight-month hiatus to heal from surgery to repair a torn ACL. As his name implies, Cass has the height and size to put himself in a spot where he can get the opportunity to become a star. However, much of that is based on his potential to develop into a money-drawing commodity, and it remains to be seen if that will materialize.
Quite simply, is there more to Big Cass than just potential?
Originally a student of notable trainer, Johnny Rodz, Cass started wrestling in 2010 and worked only a little more than a year on the independent circuit before he was offered a developmental deal so in many ways, he’s a product of the WWE system. Eventually, he debuted on the newly formed NXT brand in 2013 and his tag team with Enzo was extremely popular. The presentation and formula were somewhat simplistic, but it worked. Enzo was entertaining on the mic and could take the beat down before Cass got the tag for the basic spot in a match. Cass showcased his size and worked the traditional big man move set. There’s nothing wrong with that either, considering that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to find an entertaining act. Simple, but effective can often be the key for inexperienced talent.
The Enzo promos and catchphrases became so popular that the duo debuted on the post-WM Raw in 2016. The pair transitioned very well to the main roster and continued to be one of the most well-received acts on the show with an enthusiastic response each week. A little over a year after their debut on Raw, Cass turned heel and attacked Enzo. The argument could be made that the split was too soon, and it seemed like both members could’ve evolved further before they were booked on different paths.
The writing team did them no favors, as before the split, Enzo was booked in several cringe worthy segments with Rusev and Lana that did nothing to benefit anyone in the storyline. Even the split was booked very oddly after Enzo as the baby face was beat down weekly until the segments became repetitive and stale. At the same time, Cass’ heel persona was initially made to look very generic with basic music and a very bland presentation. His “fist up” pose on the way to the ring resembled something from the “Create-a-Wrestler” mode from the Attitude video game.
Unfortunately, he suffered the previously mentioned very serious ACL injury during a match on Raw last year and his heel push halted. As disappointing as it is when someone suffers an injury, the time off actually provided a fresh start for him when he returned, and more specifically, it distanced him from the stain of Enzo, who was released after several backstage incidents earlier this year.
The booking thus far of his return has been mediocre at best. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the logic of the bully character against the underdog of Daniel Bryan, but considering the situation, this angle could be counterproductive. Bryan is back after three years on the sidelines, and there’s much anticipation for what direction he goes on the Smackdown brand. More specifically, the audience knows there will be a showdown with The Miz based on their fiery mic exchanges when Bryan was on the shelf. The story writes itself and the matches will deliver intriguing back and forth action. Since the audience knows of the upcoming Bryan/Miz confrontation, you can tell that the focus of the fans is geared toward that, not necessarily Cass’ agenda. In some respects, Big Cass was booked to be lost in the shuffle of the eventual Bryan/Miz feud. From a booking perspective, it’s difficult to showcase Cass when there are clearly more important plans for Bryan on the horizon. Plus, Daniel Bryan is currently at the point of reestablishing his momentum as an in-ring competitor, not exactly being used to help get Cass over.
So, where does that leave Cass?
At Backlash, after a decent match, but nothing spectacular, Cass tapped out in a roughly 7-minute match so where exactly does the feud go from here? The monster was slayed so to speak. From a storyline perspective, that appears to be a definitive conclusion to the feud. Another point, the submission defeat in such a relatively short contest didn’t do much to showcase him at all. His promos are average at best, and he doesn’t have any momentum at this point, especially after he didn’t appear on Smackdown this past week.
It’s unclear if the lackluster booking has hindered Cass or if he simply doesn’t have the ability to get over outside of a tag team, but I’d guess that the audience has already seen the skills that he brings to the table. It’s doubtful that Cass will suddenly find a successful formula for the heel character. This might be a scenario where the “potential” of Big Cass is just that, only potential that won’t translate to the ability to become a major star. Along with that, you have to wonder, what is the time frame for the Cass project? Management has invested almost seven years into the Cass signing and he might’ve already accomplished his peak of success in the company.
It might sound harsh, but if the heel run flops, it might be the conclusion of his current WWE run. At 30, Cass is still a young competitor that has the chance to evolve as an athlete. It’s certainly a leap of faith, but Cass might be better suited to leave the WWE landscape and find himself as a performer, similar to the path that Drew McIntyre took to get himself in a much better scenario upon his eventual return. The bottom line is, if Cass doesn’t establish himself something more than just someone with potential then it’s very possible that he could flounder on the brand.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
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