Big Cass on returning to wrestling, alcohol addiction, being fired from WWE, is AEW next?

Big Cass aka Caz XL (real name William Morrissey) is a professional wrestler known for his time in WWE and NXT. He sits down with Chris Van Vliet in Tampa and opens up about his return to wrestling after spending time in rehab for his struggles with alcohol. He talks about how he was able to get clean, getting into the best shape of his life, his current relationship with WWE, his interest in AEW, why he was fired from WWE, how Diamond Dallas Page helped him in his journey, his girlfriend AEW broadcaster Lexi Nair, his tag team partner Enzo Amore (aka nZo), what really happened when they invaded the G1 Supercard show at Madison Square Garden and much more!

On how it feels being back:

“It feels amazing. There was a point in time where I thought I don’t want to go back to wrestling. I almost hated it and resented it so bad. I woke up 4 months ago and realized that was the first thing I fell in love with. You want to do what you love in life, you want to do what you’re passionate about, or you’re not gonna be happy. I am passionate about wrestling, and I just started my journey to getting back into the ring.”

On where the journey back to the ring started:

“It started with little things like listening to Something to Wrestle With or listening to some wrestling podcasts. I hadn’t done that in well over a year, so it started with that. I was watching old WWE PPV’s, then I started watching old Ring of Honor stuff. Eventually it kind of consumed me a little bit. The gym was always a big part of my recovery, because it helps me mentally. When I decided I wanted to go back to wrestling, I got really serious. I was doing two days cardio in the morning, then I would life later in the day. Dieting like crazy. If I’m going to come back I’m going to come back in the best shape of my life.”

On whether he was done with wrestling before his comeback:

“Yeah I think so. I was kind of just looking. I was thinking about going back to school to get my masters in social work. I’m very passionate about recovery and I want to help people. That was an option, to go back and get my masters. I was kind of just looking at different paths in my life, and I told myself I wasn’t going back to wrestling. But yeah, here I am. I guess it was resentment, or just that I really hated it for a little while. I didn’t want to be anywhere near it.”

On it not ending right first time around:

“Yeah it didn’t end on my terms. I guess I can make excuses, but you blame everybody but yourself. Especially before you get into recovery. I didn’t want to associate with old friends or with old co-workers. I didn’t want anything to do with wrestling, I guess you just chalk it up to resentment. Reality hit and I was like ‘I really love this [wrestling].’

On if he expected the response following his re-debut:

“No I didn’t. I was speaking to [Luke] Gallows, he reached out and he told me to come to his house in December. I went to his house and he saw how good I was doing, how healthy I was. He said ‘let me get you on a show.’ I believe he booked me on the February show. The two weeks prior and the day of, I was super nervous. What if people don’t pop? What if people don’t react. Gallows kept saying ‘Just trust me, they’re going to react.'”

On what was going through his mind before the re-debut:

“Super nervous. What I did in the match was pretty easy, so we kept it that way on purpose. I wasn’t nervous about the match, I was nervous about the reaction. Are people going to cheer? Are they going to boo, which is better than being indifferent. But the biggest one was what if they don’t recognize me? If they were like ‘Who’s this guy?’ That would have been awful.”

On where he was mentally the last time we saw Cass before the re-debut:

“Doing what I do best, which is pretending that I was happy. I was pretending that I was doing real well and being positive, I was putting on a mask all day, especially in front of the boys. Also I was pretending I was doing great when I wasn’t. I was really struggling on the inside, and that’s something that I used to do real well. It was real dark on the inside.”

On if he knew he had a problem:

“A lot of people would tell me I had a problem. But I think I was so delusional, even after I had that first seizure in Philadelphia. I still didn’t think I had a problem. The next day I thought I had a problem, then 2 days later I was like no I can drink again. I guess after the rest of that year, with all the incidents that happened, and then finally when I went to rehab, was when I finally admitted that I had a serious problem.”

On who decided he needed to go to rehab:

“It was people around me. That was the reason why the rehab didn’t work the first time. Because when you are doing it to appease other people, to make them happy and to see you in a more positive light, that is just not the right intention. A lot of people do go into it for the wrong reasons, and stay for the correct ones. I unfortunately wasn’t one of those people. I went in for the wrong reasons, and I relapsed pretty immediately after I got out of rehab the first time. We are talking hours after I got out. I conditioned my brain to alcohol to such a point that I was mentally obsessed with it. So even when I was in rehab and I passed a liquor store, my brain would light up. Deep down, I knew I was not going to stay sober. I pretended like I was and I lied to myself. I would say ‘yeah you’re really going to do this.’ Deep down I knew I was not going to the first time.”

Chris then asks where did Cass think he was going to go from there:

“I thought I was going to be able to do what I’m always doing, which is pretending at the right times and suffering in silence on my own and fooling people into thinking I was doing great. You can only fool people for so long, the problem is that you’re fooling yourself. So I was really just lying to myself, fooling myself all the time. I thought I was going to pull this off for the rest of my life.”

On if he remembers the night of his seizure:

“I remember doing the signing. I remember I went to lunch with Gangrel. I remember talking with Bubba [Ray Dudley] and Tommy [Dreamer] in the locker room, going over my promo with Dreamer. I was supposed to be on right after intermission, but I had to go sign at intermission. I remember dumping my water bottle over my head [back in Gorilla]. My comb was on the table, and that’s the last thing I remember. I must have walked out to the merch table and I don’t remember anything except being loaded into an ambulance. [Chris asks about being at the hospital] I did what I did best and lied, tried to come up with some bullsh*t. I said maybe I’m dehydrated or I’m not sleeping enough, it’s exhaustion. I knew it was alcohol withdrawal, but I was too embarrassed to admit that to anybody. Some people knew because I had a bottle of liquor in my bag that I didn’t drink from. But I was super embarrassed.”

On if he had alcohol issues in WWE:

“No. When I was with WWE I had responsibility. I had to get on a plane every Saturday and do house shows and then go to TV. Once that responsibility went away, I had an apartment to live in, I had money in the bank, I had a car, I had everything I needed. I had no motivation to do anything. So I just drank all day after my release.”

Image credit: Twitter

On if the release was the catalyst:

“I think I had a problem way before. The release gave me the opportunity to live that way with no responsibilities, which is a horrible thing for an addict. 2017 was when it started to go downhill. You’re wearing a mask, you’re hiding and you’re making everybody think you’re ok. You drink in your room and you make sure that nobody sees you. There were so many things going on mentally, I was really struggling but I didn’t want to say anything. It shouldn’t be embarrassing but I was embarrassed and humiliated. I guess there’s a stigma around mental health, which is toughen up. Especially in wrestling or any kind of tough person business. It was telling myself ‘Just toughen up.’ But that’s the wrong way to go about things.”

On if he knew he was going to be released by WWE soon:

“Yeah I had a feeling. I was really acting out and really making a lot of mistakes in a fairly short amount of time. I definitely expected it, that’s for sure. [Chris then mentions the release was 2 days after the Money in the Bank PPV with no future endeavours line, which is usual with WWE releases] Yeah I don’t know what that was about. I remember the day I was fired. It was a meeting with Vince [McMahon]. Me, him and Mark Carrano were in there for quite a while and we had a really good conversation. The performance was touched upon for about a minute, in terms of Big Cass. That whole conversation was about William Morrissey. I don’t know why the future endeavours wasn’t included, I didn’t look into that. I thought it was amicable when I left the building that day.”

On if a WWE return is possible:

“I do. I think with time and earning people’s trust, just as I have earned my families and friends trust. People have to see you doing well over a certain period of time.”

On why now was the time to get clean:

“It became a matter of life and death. I had a few more seizures after the one in Philadelphia. It got to the point where I knew I was going to die. If I keep going down this path I’m gonna die. There was a point where maybe I didn’t even care about that, but for some reason at that point in time I did care. I was like I can’t die, I’ve got to do something about this. I could have easily given up, but some instinctual thing told me to keep going. The hardest thing to do is to reach out for help.”

On how much Diamond Dallas Page helped him with his recovery:

“He helped a lot. He was one of the first people to give me a platform and encourage me to share what I was going through. If I didn’t do that then people can’t relate to it. That was a big first step was me admitting it. I think I admitted it in a promo backstage after I wrestled Jon Moxley. But the video that DDPY put out really got the word out to what I was going through. And it was through Dallas that I met my girlfriend [Lexi Nair, daughter of Dallas Page and AEW Backstage reporter].”

On his future goals:

“So right now I am loving what I am doing. I get to pick my own schedule, work the shows I want to work, enjoy my time alone with my girlfriend. Tampa is a great city, we have two French Bulldogs, so spending time doing our own thing. Ultimately I want to get back to a big stage, because I have a lot of things that I didn’t accomplish in wrestling that I want to accomplish. Enzo and I, we had a good run, we were very memorable. I always want to be memorable. Being a champion to me isn’t worth as much as being super memorable. I want to be memorable as a singles star, that’s a goal of mine. I want to prove to myself that I can do it, because there was a long time where I thought I couldn’t do it anymore.”

“Also, keep speaking out about my story, addiction and mental health. Just help others, that’s the goal in life. I had money, fame and all this stuff, that doesn’t amount to sh*t. I get so much joy out of helping one person. So the goal in life is just to help other people.”

On Enzo helping him these past few years:

“He’s been tremendous. I was staying in New Jersey with him for a while. He was a big part in finally getting me to go to rehab. There’s so many stories of where I was in a hotel room in this city or that city, he’s have to fly out to come and get me. He’s been tremendous, and he’s been super supportive. He’s also super supportive of me getting back into wrestling, whether it’s us or just me. Enzo’s like do your thing man, I want to see you rise.”

On a possible future in All Elite Wrestling:

“I would love to go to AEW. I’d love to go back to WWE, go to AEW, IMPACT, New Japan, Ring of Honor, wherever. Those conversations with Gallows and Anderson have happened and it’s something I would love to do. But one day at a time is the way I take it, I don’t want to look too far into the future. If a phone call comes tonight that’s great, if it doesn’t come for another 3 – 4 months or a year, that’s fine too. I’m open to go anywhere and to have fun, and to make a name for myself.”

On pairing with Enzo Amore:

“When Enzo came to his try-out in FCW, he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. He can be loud, confident and brash. But he cut a promo on his try-out that was incredible. I said ‘I hope they sign him because I want to do something with this guy.’ At the time I was looking to do more of this New York character. They ended up signing him, low and behold came to FCW. One morning and it says who’s going to start in the program next week, there was his name. I buddied up with him, and from the first time I saw him I wanted to do something with him.”

On where the idea to split up Enzo and Cass came from:

“I don’t know. I just know sometime in 2017 when they did the storyline with Enzo getting jumped, originally it wasn’t supposed to be me. But then I don’t know what happened, then they kind of just went in another direction. Me and Enzo thought it was going to be this person or that group. Maybe it was the week before that they told us. We were swerved, but I was kind of cool with it. I really wanted to be a heel and Enzo is a great babyface to work with. He can take a hell of an ass kicking, it looks like he is getting crushed out there.”

On people being surprised when he got released:

“A lot of people were, but I think it was justified. I was a liability back then. They didn’t know what I was going to do next. So they made the right call. Of course in the moment I was bitter as hell, but it was the right call. I wasn’t surprised. It could have been a phone call but it was a meeting with Vince at least. I met with Vince, it was a really good conversation, very productive and very focused on William, not Big Cass. Then they got me a flight home. I drove to the airport from there and flew home.”

Image credit: Wrestlezone

On the G1 super card incident:

“That was crazy and out of control. Nobody knew, so I couldn’t quite get Enzo to process. I said ‘there’s 8 guys in the match, we’re only taking on 2 of them after the match. There’s 6 other guys involved, very formidable wrestlers, that don’t know this is happening. We might get our asses handed to us by 8 people.’ Yeah super nervous, and when we went out there and did it, that felt amazing. There were 6 people in the world that knew about this, including me and Enzo. We got changed at a friend’s office a few blocks by, we walked over to the building and we sent the text to person x. They came down, got us and put us in a room in the back. It was kind of helter skelter too. We had to watch the screen and wait for our cue. There was shock value, the heat we got I think came from guys not knowing. A lot of the times fans like to be smartened up as to what’s going on. There was resentment from some fans at least, they were like they got us.”

“No matter what anyone says now, 20,000 people in that building and I don’t know how many people watching at home, not one person watching at that time thought Enzo and Cass are going to hop the guard rail. The heat transferred from us to the management because we were just doing what we were told.”

On his daily routine:

“So I wake up and the first thing I will do is coffee. Empty stomach I immediately do cardio, which is usually interval training. Usually incline sprints or a rowing machine. I do that for half an hour, then relax and maybe eat something. Later on in the day, handle errands and stuff like that. Later on after that, go to the gym. I only do legs once a week, I don’t want to mess my knees up. Every other day is a push or pull day. I have a look I’m going for, if I do German volume training, I look like that. I do 10 sets of 10. Every time I work out, I do a different exercise.”

On what he is grateful for:

“My girlfriend Lexi, Tampa Bay and the wrestling business.”

Image credit: Bodyslam.net

Big Cass can be found on Twitter here

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