Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate a legendary title run whilst it’s ongoing, only really seeing how good it is after it’s over.
However, this is not the case with Orange Cassidy and the AEW International Championship. Since winning the belt, it has been clear he is one of the best wrestlers in the world, with one of the best title reigns ever seen in wrestling.
Now, this may be premature, and slightly hyperbolic, but I will defend this view to the death. There has been no champion (beside Jade Cargill, who is obviously not even close to OC) with more title defenses than Cassidy, which is impressive considering he hasn’t even held the title for a year at this point.
As of the time of writing, Orange Cassidy has defended the AEW International Championship 23 times – 14 more than Jon Moxley defended the AEW Championship.
While the belt was considered a secondary title upon its inception (where it was called the AEW All-Atlantic Championship), in recent months it has grown in prestige, almost to the level of the world title itself.
With recent reports that it will be considered the “world championship” for the new AEW Collision show, Orange Cassidy will go down in the history books as a top champion in AEW, and one that is completely deserved.
Orange Cassidy’s AEW International Championship Reign
After his victory in one of the best Battle Royal’s ever, Orange Cassidy is looking like the best champion AEW has ever had.
His in-ring work, as usual, is flawless. For somebody who was brought into the company as a one-off entry, as a comedy character, into a battle royal, its incredible to see just how far he has come.
Of course, he was always a fantastic wrestle. His work under a mask as Fire Ant in Chikara was brilliant, and he showed his prowess as a top lucha wrestler in the United States.
Even in his Orange Cassidy gimmick on the indies, he put on some incredible matches, although usually with more of a comedy side to them.
This comedy wrestling actually hindered him at points, with some promotions refusing to book him because they did not see the potential for a man with a gimmick where he is so lazy, that he doesn’t even want to wrestle.
This is why he was never brought into a major company before signing with AEW in 2019. TNA, ROH and WWE all passed up the chance to sign him, something with they will be kicking themselves over now, in 2023.
Orange Cassidy had some fantastic matches before winning the AEW International Championship, including against PAC, Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho.
However, since winning the belt, he has put on the afterburners and had an eclectic rang of brilliant matches, with a wide range of opponents and styles.
His versatility has been the key selling point of Orange Cassidy’s run with the title. Not only has he had an incredible amount of defenses of his title, the variety of opponents had meant that every match is completely different to the one before it.
While I won’t list them all here (you can read about every AEW International Champion defense by Orange Cassidy here), he has taken on opponents like Katsuyori Shibata, Big Bill, Jeff Jarrett and Bandido, beating them all.
Those four men really show just how good he is, and the variety of matches he had. Shibata is a hard-hitting, strong-style wrestler, who Cassidy needed to protect after The Wrestler’s history of head injuries.
Big Bill is a giant, a big man who Cassidy had to work form underneath, playing the underdog to the larger man. He managed to chop down the giant and escape with the title, adding to his canon of defenses.
Jeff Jarrett is an old-school southern wrestler, so this match was pure pageantry. Jarrett and Orange Cassidy worked the crowd with their gimmicks perfectly, and the match featured various interferences to keep the crowd on their feet.
Meanwhile, Bandido is a supreme wrestler, although with little character in AEW. This was a pure work rate match, with Cassidy keeping up with one of the worlds’s best luchadors.
The title reign has also had the story of Cassidy’s waning health running through the middle. As the weeks and title defenses go on, he is visibly more tired and banged up, adding tape and bandages to his body as he takes more and more punishment.
His backstage interviews with Renee Paquette, while hilarious, also show just how much the title reign is taking out of the AEW International Championship.
When he does finally lose the title, AEW fans will remember this title reign as one of the all-time greats. Orange Cassidy will be up there with Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley as one of the greatest AEW Champion of all time, and rightly deserved too.
What is your favourite match from Orange Cassidy’s AEW International Championship reign? Tell us what you think, down in the comments section below.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.