My name is Adam Leavelle, and I spent several years in the wrestling world hyping, promoting, pushing, and “putting over” wrestling that I found to be “done right.” I was in love with Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Evolve, and the companies I worked for as a commentator, companies like Lancaster Championship Wrestling, The Ultimate Wresting Experience, and Legacy Wrestling. I put over wrestlers like AJ Styles, Tetsuya Naito, AR Fox, Eddie Smooth, Nigel McGuiness, Bryan Danielson, and CM Punk. As the years rolled by though, things started to change. Professional Wrestling began to get sillier, and more outlandish. From a wrestler who was flipping other wrestlers with his penis, to another wrestler shooting invisible bullets from his “finger gun,” and his opponents selling them, I just began to get frustrated. The wrestlers that I still enjoyed like Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, etc. still “worked” matches pretty well, but the no selling of monstrous moves was getting to be too much to take. Combine that with the fact that the very much hated (to me) WWE was swallowing guys like them up, as well as Johnny Gargano, and Shane Strickland, just made me walk away from nearly all of professional wrestling. At this same time, Kenny Omega had taken over New Japan, and morphed into some strange social justice style of performer, out to spread a message, more than kick ass. I was very dejected, latching on to two companies for my “Wrestling Done Right.” Those companies being Pro Wrestling NOAH, and World Wonder Ring Stardom. These are two promotions from Japan, that I still hold above all others.
I’ve missed wrestling though, pretty badly. As much as I love NOAH, and Stardom, I really, really, want an American company to prosper, succeed, and give us wrestling fans an alternative to the horrible WWE. Yes, WWE’s NXT brand isn’t bad, but damn it, it’s still a WWE product, and I just don’t want to support a company that has proven time and again that they just don’t care what their fans want. A company that swallows wrestlers worldwide, and re-names them “sports entertainers” and often, even renames them in whole, (isn’t that right, Isiah, Swerve, Scott?) While I wish every wrestler well, and wish none of them to be out of a job (well, except maybe penis, and invisible bullet guy) I can’t support Vince McMahon, and his arrogant approach to “sports entertainment.” No thank you. I can’t watch the best Joshi wrestlers in the world, get beaten by wrestlers….errrr, I mean “sports entertainers,” that really don’t even deserve to carry their bags.
So what’s a rabid, intelligent, passionate, wrestling fan/journalist to do? Well, this one is going to do something that will shock everyone who knows him. I will be turning to All Elite Wrestling. Yes, AEW, the company that I have criticized since its inception. The company I’ve laughed at, and mocked, almost as much as Jim Cornette has. Why have I made this decision? Well, here is where you need to read the title of this article again, and bear with me. AEW does some really stupid stuff. Really stupid. They also do some really great stuff. Really great. I’ve discovered a way to look at most of the stupid stuff that I truly believe will help. I believe that I’m a smart enough guy, with enough wrestling knowledge, and ability, to cover AEW in such a way that it will help others enjoy it more, and if at all possible, make those at AEW sit up and take notice to what I am doing, and possibly incorporate it into their programing. I'm going to do this just for fun. Yes, I’d certainly love a job in the business, but that’s not my “goal” here. My goal is for me to be able to enjoy an American wrestling product, while covering it as a journalist, and to share that method through articles, and Facebook Live videos. I am nearly certain that many of you reading this wonder what in the world I am talking about. You’re likely wondering how in God’s name can I make sense of the stupid things AEW puts out? How can I take things that I have campaigned against, maligned, and spat at, and now make them not only bearable, but enjoyable? Well, if you can continuing reading this long article, I am going to give you my first idea now. My first idea is how to take a wrestler like “Orange Cassidy” and accept what he does, in the scope of the professional wrestling world. The problem with a gimmick/character/wrestler like Cassidy is that what he does makes no sense. He has no “story,” he’s just a goof that acts goofy, inside a professional wrestling ring. So let me tell you Orange Cassidy’s story, as I see it (in my attempt to accept him in the wrestling world).
James Cipperly always wanted to be a professional wrestler. Working hard on the independent scene, taking the name “Orange Cassidy,” he debuted in 2004, sixteen years ago. Working hard for years Casidy wouldn’t find a lot of success, even when working alongside WWE Superstar, Drew Gulak, and AEW wrestler, Chuck Taylor in Gabe Sapolsky’s “Evolve” wrestling as “The Gentleman’s Club.” Taylor would go on to work in high profile matches with Ring of Honor, and New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Gulak would become the Combat Zone Wrestling world champion, and later even the WWE Cruiserweight Champion, but Cassidy languished behind. In 2006 Cassidy would find his most success as “Fire Ant,” a silly looking masked wrestler, part of the “Colony” in CHIKARA wrestling organization. Sadly though, Fire Ant didn’t obtain much success outside of the New Jersey based wrestling company. No matter how much Cassidy trained, worked out, and applied his craft, he continued to see his friends prosper, sign big money deals, and travel the globe, while Cassidy still worked as a masked ant, on the Eastern coast of America. Cassidy, in his sixteen year career, only claimed four championship titles, none of them known to many outside of those small companies. Unbeknownst to many, Cassidy sought out more training across the globe. While still continuing to be ignored by most, Cassidy honed his craft, until he became a finally tuned wrestler, so good, that most didn’t want to face him. Now Cassidy wasn’t getting booked because promoters feared him, they didn’t want him embarrassing their top stars. Fire Ant wasn’t going to dominate the indies, that’s for damn sure!
Along came Cody Rhodes, and AEW. Many in the wrestling world bemoaned the signing of a wrestler that now wrestled with his hands in his pockets. A wrestler that play kicked at his opponents like a small child. A wrestler that just doesn’t seem to care. Why would Cody want this clown in a “sports based promotion that he promised AEW was going to be? What I’ve discovered is that Cody Rhodes, and a few others in AEW, know what Casidy is doing. Now that I know, you too shall know. Orange Cassidy adopted this silly “sloth style” so that no one would ever take him serious, so that he would be taken lightly, and booked in low card matches. Orange Cassidy developed a plan over these sixteen years, a plan that could one day see him on top of the wrestling world. Many fans identify with Cassidy’s laissez faire approach simply because they too feel their hard work doesn’t pay off, that the lesser talented get more attention, and greater opportunities, they too would love to take a half ass approach to life and get by with it. To these people, Cassidy is their hero, someone they identify with so much, that his antics aren’t disrespectful to wrestling to them, but rather they are screwing “the man” that never appreciates when he worked hard for him! What many fans haven’t known, until now, is that it’s all a set up. While Cassidy appreciates the support he’s gotten from the AEW faithful, one day he will snap out of the “sloth style” and show everyone the kind of wrestler, the kind of “worker” that he is. What will it take to get him to that point? We saw just a little bit of it in his match against PAC, but Cassidy refused to come completely out of his disgusted man shell. I believe Cody Rhodes knows what buttons to push with Cassidy, and that he has shared that with his fellow AEW management team, and you will see the full story unfold on AEW Dynamite, week, after week. If you are how I once was, sick of the stupidity, know that there’s a story being told here. If you just want to see wrestling done right, know that also involves solidly told stories, and that Cassidy’s will be worth the pay off, even if right now, it’s only a “thumbs half way up.”
Future articles looking at AEW will help explain
-Why don’t big moves seem to do much damage?
-Why does one of their female wrestlers claim to be an alien?
-What is with the Young Bucks?
-Who is Kenny Omega, and what’s his mission?