The latest Superstar Shakeup is over, and Big Cass has made his triumphant return as a member of SmackDown Live. The 30-year-old big man had been out since August after tearing his ACL on the Raw after SummerSlam last year. Cass had been pitted against his former tag team partner Enzo Amore in a Brooklyn Street Fight, during which he took an awkward fall and suffered the injury.
How times have changed in the months that have since passed. Amore is no longer with the company following rape allegations. Though he was once so closely associated with the "Certified G," Big Cass is about to have a bevy of options and opportunities on the blue brand now that he's flying solo, and hopefully for good.
A different past
Prior to his young heel run, Big Cass was one of the most over babyface wrestlers on the WWE roster. He joined NXT (then Florida Championship Wrestling, or FCW) in 2011 and after a brief but failed singles run as Colin Cassady, he and Amore teamed up in 2012 and the rest is history. The duo spent the next three years near the top of the NXT tag team division, though they never won the belts.
That still didn't stop Cass from being the muscle to Amore's mouthpiece and, working in tandem, they won over the fans despite never holding the gold. Adding Cass's former real-life girlfriend, current SmackDown Women's Champion Carmella, only got them more over. This was because they managed to tell great stories through fine matches. Their match with The Revival at NXT TakeOver: London in 2015 was absolutely incredible, so it's no wonder that the "Realest Guys In the Room," as Enzo dubbed them, debuted on the Raw after WrestleMania 32 and started a small feud with the Dudley Boyz.
What followed was a year of Enzo & Big Cass performing much like they did down in NXT. They always seemed to be in the tag team championship picture, but always fell short of bringing home the gold. Their chances looked strong going into the ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championship at last year's WrestleMania, but everything changed with the surprising return of The Hardy Boyz.
The rest, as they say, is history. Big Cass turned heel on Enzo that summer, had a match against Big Show at SummerSlam with Enzo suspended above the ring in a shark cage (for some reason), and suffered his injury the day after. Needless to say, big things are now about to happen for Big Cass.
In-ring style & character
Now, though most of Big Cass's WWE career has been as one half of a popular tag team, one thing is certain. Vince McMahon is very high on him. In August 2016, he was part of a Fatal Four-Way for the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and eventual champion Kevin Owens after Finn Balor suffered a shoulder injury and had to vacate the title the day after winning it. He was also the first entrant in the 2017 Royal Rumble and lasted just under ten minutes before being eliminated by Braun Strowman.
This is because as someone with decent height, long hair (sometimes paired with a high forehead and/or a receding hairline), and what plays out as a strong mean streak on TV, Big Cass is everything Vince McMahon looks for in a championship-caliber talent. We've seen the exact same thing done with Roman Reigns the past few years, and with Hulk Hogan in the past. Each man was pushed to the moon and damn the consequences.
Cass's in-ring style is also perfect for his monster heel character. His finisher is a simple boot to the face, with his Empire Elbow (jumping elbow drop) and East River Crossing (sitout side slam) also featuring prominently. Now he's back from injury, and fans should be excited for what he can and will bring to the table.
Big Cass's future
Big Cass made his return to SmackDown Live and immediately turned up his heel heat to a boiling point when he interfered in the main event on Tuesday, a tag team match pitting Rusev and Aiden English against Daniel Bryan and WWE Champion AJ Styles. After Shinsuke Nakamura appeared at ringside and low-blowed Styles, Cass laid out Bryan with a big boot. Given Bryan's popularity with the fans and the great size disparity between the two, the boos from the crowd were strong.
There are several directions in which this could go and even though we don't often go the fantasy booking route, each warrants a brief discussion. An alliance with Nakamura is possible, but Nakamura's heel run is only just beginning and he should keep flying solo in order to be taken seriously. If they are to be a duo, it should be a simple arrangement in which one helps the other out in exchange for loyalty as opposed to just becoming a traditional tag team.
The most obvious angle, on the other hand, is to throw Cass into a feud with Bryan. It cements Bryan's status as a perennial underdog and gives him the chance at retribution. However, this feud should not last long and booking it is even tougher. Do you give Bryan the win and arguably bury Big Cass, or do you give the big man the victory and some momentum?
One thing to do is to have Cass defeat Bryan, then go on a heel run where he practically squashes everyone. This not only gives him a much-needed win, since Bryan can afford to take a loss, but also establishes him as seven feet of pure brute force. Then, let's say around The Royal Rumble for argument's sake, he cuts a promo bragging about his dominant streak and how nobody can beat him. Out comes NXT call-up Kassius Ohno, who recommends Big Cass pick on someone closer to his own size (A stretch since Ohno is only 6'4", but it could still work). The two have a match, which Cass wins, and he can then continue his run as a dominant heel into any championship picture.
Big Cass has a lot to prove now that he's back from his injury, not to mention his former mouthpiece in Enzo Amore is no longer with the company, but better theme music and quickly established heel heat give him a higher ceiling compared to where he was at the time of his ACL tear. So long as he isn't forced down the fans' throats and is allowed to develop naturally, the man can get over as a monster heel.
Can Big Cass succeed as a top heel on SmackDown Live? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!