When Big Cass steps through the curtain – often times alongside his tag team partner Enzo Amore – the energy is electric.
As he walks to the ring alongside the witty, outspoken Amore, Cass’s stature is the first thing that catches your eye before he’s introduced by his friend and partner.
“He’s over seven-foot-tall,” Amore, without fail, will say.
The crowd knows what’s coming next, as does Cass – and why wouldn’t he, it’s a moment he’s been working toward his entire life. A moment that kids who fall in love with professional wrestling dream about. A moment that wasn’t always planned, but destined, rather.
A moment that begins with an unlikely misspelling alongside thousands of fans, five letters and Cass’s calling card. “S-A-W-F-T.”
Ten years ago, William Morrissey was a sophomore at New York University, blending in on campus and with the hustle and bustle of his hometown – as best a 6-foot-8 basketball player could – and well on his way to becoming arguably the exact opposite of a WWE Superstar.
Morrissey, who was born and raised in Queens, New York, was a standout student at Archbishop Molloy High School before heading to NYU, one of the most prestigious schools in the Big Apple. Morrissey entered the pre-med program at the school and, after a late growth spurt in high school turned him into one of Molloy’s star players, walked onto the basketball team under coach Joe Nesci.
As Morrissey prepared for his MCAT exam, with his basketball career over and his ticket to medical school all but punched, there was this nagging feeling. Something wasn’t right, this wasn’t his true calling.
As it turned out, there was no medicine that could fix what was ailing Morrissey. There was only one cure for this itch, and it wasn’t one that NYU or any academic institution could provide.
Morrissey was giving up becoming a doctor to pursue his lifelong dream of joining the WWE.
“Obviously it took [my family] off guard for sure, they were all shocked,” Cass told Yahoo Sports. “But they were supportive because they knew I always deep down wanted to do it and I think they always knew deep down that I would do it. I always told myself that I was going to go to med school, become a doctor, but that wasn’t what I truly believed. I told everybody that but deep down I knew I was preparing my whole life to get to WWE.”
Morrissey would find his way to Johnny Rodz, a wrestling icon who has trained dozens of stars for more than 50 years, and happened to be right in Morrissey’s backyard. Rodz, a 1996 inductee into the WWE’s Hall of Fame, took the young star aboard, training him at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, and there, Big Cass was born.
From there, Morrissey would make his way to Florida, to a WWE “territory” – think of it like the minor leagues in baseball – to continue his pursuit. There, and subsequently at “NXT,” WWE’s branded developmental complex, Morrissey would reconnect with a former friend, Eric Arndt, and form a tag team, what the world now knows as Enzo and Cass.
“The journey to the WWE was extremely difficult,” Cass said. “Starting out at Johnny Rodz’s wrestling school, kind of finally getting a break and getting signed. A lot of difficulty I faced in NXT, going through the ranks, a lot of difficulty Enzo and I experienced trying to make it to WWE. I learned some valuable life lessons that will stick with me for the rest of my life.”
Nearly a year ago, all of Morrissey’s hard work had finally paid off. The night after WrestleMania 32, Enzo and Cass finally got the call. They were going to be on the main WWE roster.
Thanks to their charisma – “dialed up” for himself and “dialed down a little” for Enzo – the duo was an instant sensation.
The characters they had worked on during their time at “NXT” became some of the most “over” (read: popular) thanks to their bravado, wittiness and, of course, their catchphrases.
Post time: 03-31-2017