AEW President and CEO Tony Khan was on the AEW Unrestricted podcast to preview Fyter Fest with Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone.
During the discussion, Khan went through the story that was been built up for Chris Jericho and Orange Cassidy’s upcoming Fyter Fest match. He also noted that the TNT Championship Battle Royal did well for them in terms of viewership numbers.
“Things got very sideways when you were in the broadcast booth with Chris. Chris was none too pleased with Orange Cassidy, as he was on commentary and he had a lot of really nasty things to say about him,” Khan said. “Orange Cassidy, innocuously I thought, walked through Chris’s shot when Chris was doing an interview, and he took exception to that.
“Then The Inner Circle jumped Orange Cassidy as he was going into the TNT Title Battle Royal, which was a really fun battle royal. We had a lot of fun working on it. Chris tried to ruin the fun but it still ended up being really fun, and Orange Cassidy still almost won. We did a really good number, and I was really proud of that because we had fun putting that together. For over a million people to be watching that finish, which was such a cool moment with so many of the important stars of AEW.”
Khan gave a lot of praise to Orange Cassidy. He talked about how fun it is to build him up as not many wrestling fans knew Orange Cassidy before AEW.
“Frankly, we haven’t seen anybody get to Chris like this in a long time but we also haven’t seen a wrestler get so popular so quickly out of nowhere,” Khan noted. “It’s been a lot of fun working on it. A lot of it we’ve worked on, and and tried marketing him and building such a fun character. He’s an enigma and he had such a great presentation coming in. Nobody really believed in, it I felt like, outside of a core group of people.
“It’s been really, really fun building something from the ground up with Orange Cassidy because, outside of the really hardcore wrestling fan base, there probably weren’t a lot of people, every week, that were tuning in to watch him at first.”
Khan noted that they have been building up Orange Cassidy’s push since his feud with PAC. He said that they wanted to build up to Orange Cassidy’s first singles match, which happened at Revolution.
“If you look back to 2019, a lot of people don’t remember this,” Khan recalled. “Before there was a Death Triangle and before there was the idea of PAC and the Lucha Brothers vs. Orange Cassidy and The Best Friends, they were already experimenting with this idea trying to set up, eventually, PAC and Orange Cassidy in the matchmaking when I booked PAC and TH2 (The Hybrid 2) in a match with Orange Cassidy and The Best Friends.
“The idea was to put some backstory out there with PAC and Orange Cassidy for the long run when it was time for Orange Cassidy to finally have a singles match. But we subtly built up for a long time to his first singles match because he was either a manager or he did some six-man tags. And he was in a couple battle royals, but he hadn’t, until Revolution, ever done a singles match.”
Khan told a story of a Kansas City Dynamite show where Orange Cassidy confronted PAC after his Iron Man match against Kenny Omega. He said that there was doubt backstage that the moment between them wouldn’t work, but it did.
“I remember in Kansas City, I knew that one way or another after The PAC-Kenny Omega Iron Man match that after they went the distance, that Orange Cassidy was going to be coming out to challenge PAC,” Khan recalled. “I had told you before we did it that they’re going to chant, ‘He’s gonna try. He’s gonna try. He’s gonna try.’ The Best Friends are going to hit that line.
“The jokes gonna be on PAC that he’s gonna try. Just watch, it’s gonna work. And at that catering table, there was some doubt at the table whether this was actually going to work. Boy did that work really well.”
Schiavone talked about how that moment with PAC opened a lot of people’s eyes to Orange Cassidy as an in-ring performer. Khan praised Orange Cassidy for putting in a lot of work into his character while also being a good wrestler.
“I think that really opened a lot of people’s eyes about him,” Schiavone noted. We know what kind of character he was and how people had loved him, but once he stepped in the ring and once we could see what he could do, I remember saying, ‘Oh my god’.
“That’s the genius of it because people don’t know that inside of this guy’s gimmick is this amazing wrestler,” Khan remarked. “An actual genius of a person. If they only knew that his ideas in terms of execution, presentation [and] putting together a wrestling match. He’s such a great technician in terms of bell-to-bell wrestling, but also just in terms of the little details he puts into his character.
“He’s really come such a long way since we started, but that’s been one of the most fun things I’ve ever worked on or done is building up that match. PAC and Orange Cassidy didn’t have, in a lot of people’s eyes, all that much build-up. We announced it on three days notice before the PPV on the go home show out of nowhere as something to pour gasoline, kind of, on the fire. It ended up being a hugely successful show and a hugely successful match.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.