Easily match of the night.

Orange Cassidy rules. Anyone who’s followed Cassidy on the indies (both in this and other gimmicks) already knows that beneath the gimmick is a really great wrestler with an impeccable understanding of selling and timing. This, combined with his comedy apathy making him one of the most over workers in the entire company, makes him an ideal babyface.

Cassidy’s comedy always seems to work best when contrasted against a straight man. Not in the heterosexual sense but in the archetypical one, a foil meant to heighten the absurdity of Cassidy’s demeanor. It’s what’s given Cassidy classics on the indie scene against guys like David Starr and Tracy Williams. PAC is just the kind off bully foil that Cassidy needed to make his debut singles match in AEW feel so special.

While PAC does momentarily indulge in Cassidy’s silliness with a soft kick off to start, it’s easy enough to write this off as PAC playing with his food. Cassidy then channels his best lucha skills, countering and bamboozling PAC while his hands remain squarely in his pockets. It reminds me of some of the best old school lucha libre babyface shine segments where flashy heroes embarrass the villains.

But then once PAC gets into the heel heat, it’s glorious. He wrecks Cassidy, even giving him a nasty head first bump into the ringpost. It’s this segment of the match that starts to reveal the depths of Cassidy’s ability in the ring. What people who have an issue with Cassidy don’t realize is that nothing he does actually violates kayfabe when done right. PAC doesn’t sell Cassidy’s strikes. Cassidy sells his ass off to make PAC look just like The Bastard that he claims to be.

Cassidy gives us some great moments here with Misawa-esque rolling out of the ring to avoid PAC hitting the Black Arrow. That smug smirk on Cassidy’s face when PAC tries to intercept him? Pure joy.

There’s such brilliant structural choices here too. Towards the end of the match, Cassidy tries to strike PAC but they come off weak. The commentary correctly posits that Cassidy isn’t making jokes anymore, he simply doesn’t have the strength to hit PAC back. Then when Cassidy nails PAC with a sweet around the world DDT, PAC rolls to the ramp–pulling a page out of Cassidy’s own tactics.

The interference spot detracts from this match just a little. Kind of useless, sure, but done to protect Cassidy as PAC uses the distraction to finally get the Brutalizer locked in. A minor blip on a fantastic piece of wrestling work here. Don’t let the comedy hide the fact that this is an amazing piece of substantial pro wrestling. Love this match so much, another top of the line match from what is AEW’s best show of all time by a wide margin.

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