COVID-19, Anxiety and Orange Cassidy
Many of you I imagine are not avid fans of professional wrestling. Even less of you have heard of or are fans of a certain wrestler who goes by the ring name ‘Freshly Squeezed’ Orange Cassidy. It’s a weird one to start with, but I will explain how this one wrestler is the main reason I got through the COVID-19 lockdown and how he helps me with my anxiety to this day.
First, some context. Professional wrestling is fake; it has more in common with Game of Thrones and the Avengers than it does with actual sports. It has been said before that wrestling is one of the last true bastions of theatre in the modern world. You have good guys and bad guys all competing in a programme that pretends to be a legitimate sporting contest, relying on the audience suspension of disbelief. It doesn’t matter if it is fake because it’s entertaining to watch Wardlow fight and win against 20 people at once, or to watch El Penta Zero Meido do a running backflip onto a table. Wrestling is simple, cheap entertainment that never pretends to be anything more and that is why it works so well.
I got into wrestling at the end of 2019, at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown. I am already a pretty anxious person, so I really was not coping well with the lockdown; especially when people close to me contracted the disease. Lockdown felt like everyday was coping and survival, even though I was perfectly safe and had enough. The mental health crisis caused by COVID-19 might as well have been considered it’s own epidemic. To quote Bilbo, I felt like too little butter spread over too much bread. One of the ways I was able to get through the lockdown was through escapism, much like everyone else. This brings me to AEW and to Orange Cassidy. Lockdown was a long time and my usual interests weren’t up to the challenge of warding away the worries of a pandemic. All Elite Wrestling provided two hours of escapism every wednesday night during the lockdown, with the spectacles and humour of an athletic display from some of the most talented wrestlers in the world.
Trying to explain Orange Cassidy to someone who doesn’t watch wrestling is difficult because wrestling relies on the belief that it is a legitimate sporting contest. Orange Cassidy, simply put, is a wrestler who cannot be bothered to wrestle. Unlike a chiselled Hulk Hogan or Stone Cold Steve Austin, Cassidy is a 5” something skinny guy wearing double denim and a pair of aviators. He walks to the ring with his hands in his pockets to Pixie’s ‘Where is my Mind’ and once in the ring he gives a half handed thumbs up and can’t be bothered to take off his sunglasses. Cassidy wrestles entire matches with his hands in his pockets, limply lifts his legs to kick and lazily rolls out of the way of incoming offence. Billed as weighing ‘whatever’ from ‘wherever’, he never talks, save to simply say the words ‘whatever’ or ‘okay’. If this sounds weird it’s because it is, and that is why the fans love him to pieces.
Something about Freshly Squeezed just appeals to me. Even in the silly world of wrestling, a guy who can’t be bothered to even do it right is easy entertainment. Cassidy doesn’t care about anything, and that's why we love him so much. The world was going to hell with the pandemic and everything else, but every week Cassidy showed up and didn’t care and everyone cheered. Maybe it’s because he is the underdog, or appeals to the part of us that wants to go about our lives with the mantra of ‘I don’t care’. I found that very appealing in lockdown. I was so stressed out, it was refreshing to take Cassidy’s view of lethargy and just say to myself ‘That thing that is stressing you out right now? Who cares.’ To someone with
anxiety, it was refreshing to see a hero who just didn’t let anything phase him and didn’t care, which is something I think we could all use from time to time.
This isn’t to say Cassidy isn’t a bad wrestler, not at all. When OC goes he can absolutely go, Cassidy vs Will Osprey is a personal favourite match of mine. Something is just very relatable about a guy who can roll into the ring at his own pace, give a half-energy thumbs up and get a huge cheer while the guy he is facing down is seething.
To me, Orange Cassidy represents the rightfully selfish part of psychology. It's okay to do things your way, take 15 minutes to be selfish and good to yourself, don’t do it the way others want you to and most importantly stop caring about the small stuff. Everytime I get anxious, I take a breath and ask ‘What would Orange Cassidy do?’. Afterall, as long as you are true to yourself and do it your way, does anything else really matter