Despite being built for the WWE stage, both in frame and presence, Colin Cassady could have easily ended up donning a white coat and a stethoscope instead of wrestling trunks.
Before Big Cass was a fresh face on the WWE tag team scene, he was Bill Morrissey, a pre-med student from Queens, New York. He ended up choosing the squared circle over practicing medicine, a fact his fans have to be thankful for today.
Diligence and discovering the star in himself were keys to his journey from college student to charismatic performer.
Along the way, he hunted down rebounds on the hardwood, handled ticket sales for venues like Yankee Stadium and met the man he would later fight alongside in WWE rings—Enzo Amore. Cassady's path to WWE is atypical. Not many of his peers earned scholarships to New York University or found their tag team partners on the New York basketball court known as "The Cage."
Basketball, Big Bill Young
On West Fourth Street, at one of America's most famous street ball parks, two young men made a connection that would last for over a decade and counting.
Both Cassady and Amore played pick-up hoops at the courts called The Cage. They hit it off after Amore stood up for the big man.
In an interview with Miami Herald writer Jim Varsallone, Cassady recalled, "He was a bit of a trash-talker. Kind of came to my defense at one point. And we went for pizza after, and that was that."
The friends parted ways when each went to different colleges. NYU offered Cassady a scholarship, and he soon began the pre-med track. He also played basketball for the school, coming off the bench as a center beginning with the 2005-06 season.
Cassady was no star, but he grabbed his share of rebounds when called upon.
More than his stats, one interesting note stands out from his NYU basketball profile. It mentioned that the 6'8'' student was an "avid professional wrestling fan."
But he didn't go into that industry when he was done with school. Cassady instead used lessons from the economics classes he took.
"He later went on to start his own ticket brokerage company specializing in events at Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden," Byron Saxton wrote for WWE.com.
Eventually, though, Cassady gave wrestling a shot. He trained at the World of Unpredictable Wrestling school in Brooklyn. His primary mentor was Johnny Rodz, a WWE Hall of Famer who had a reputation for being hard-nosed and no-nonsense.
In 2010, the big man began wrestling for WUW as Big Bill Young.
The cowboy shtick was a poor fit, but the powerhouse, even though he was raw, seemed at home between the ropes. In a bout against Astro Morales, he dished out sloppy strikes and looked uncomfortable thanks to his lack of experience.
His imposing size caught one's eye, though. And he had already started perfecting his trademark side slam.
Cassady didn't have to wait long to try that move out on a bigger stage. WWE signed him to a developmental deal in 2011.
Who is Colin Cassady?
Florida Championship Wrestling was still WWE's developmental territory when Cassady arrived. It was there where he was tasked with learning the art of wrestling and figuring out which persona suited him best. Big Bill Young wasn't going to be his ticket.
WWE didn't treat him like a top prospect early on. Cassady was asked to lose on a regular basis.
Per his CageMatch.net profile, he suffered televised defeats to Husky Harris (Bray Wyatt), Xavier Woods, Bo Rotundo (Bo Dallas) and Leakee (Roman Reigns), all of whom were higher on the totem pole than him. In 2013, Cassady amassed just a .250 winning percentage. All of those aforementioned men moved on to the main roster before him.
Cassady was still in search of his voice.
He would sometimes pair up with Briley Pierce as the two wrestlers bad-mouthed the rest of the roster. This version of Cassady was a bit too much of a cartoon New Yorker, complete with thick accent and dark sunglasses.
One of the only things from this act that he kept moving forward was the "How ya doin'?" catchphrase.
In the ring, his size helped him stand out. Cassady, though, wasn't as well-built as he is today. Over time, he added bulk to his frame, becoming more and more of a larger-than-life figure.
WWE teamed him up with guys like Alexander Rusev (now just Rusev), Corey Graves and Erick Rowan. None of those partnerships clicked. It wasn't until an old friend walked into FCW that Cassady's career began to soar.
The Realest Guys in the Room Reunited
Amore signed with WWE in 2012, where he soon joined forces with his old basketball teammate. Their paths crossing again surprised Cassady.
"I knew 'Zo had gone off and played football, but I had no idea we'd end up trying to make it to WWE," Cassady told Saxton in a WWE.com interview.
Cassady and Amore began teaming together and honing their catchphrase game just as FCW gave way to NXT. It was there that the two friends became the hottest act in the developmental brand.
Amore's charisma carried them during promos. Cassady's power and size carried the duo in the ring. And while Amore played the frontman, Cassady's intensity was key to the duo catching on, too.
Their characters became increasingly compelling. They were wise-cracking, high-energy guys just having fun out there. The NXT fans began to more loudly chant along with them.
It took time for Cassady and Amore to prove they were more than just a comedy act, though. Each man worked on his mat skills, their bouts becoming more must-see as they progressed.
It was their feud with The Revival that showcased what they could do.
Battling Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder brought out their nasty sides. And in putting on the best matches of their careers, the two babyfaces showed WWE their in-ring production was now a quality complement to their outstanding trash-talk.
WWE brought up Cassady and Amore to the main roster on the Raw after WrestleMania 32, five years after Big Cass signed his developmental deal. The company instantly thrust them into contention for the tag team titles, having them butt heads with The Dudley Boyz and The Vaudevillains.
The Realest Guys in the Room are destined to be vital pieces of the tag team puzzle for the next few years. Cassady, though, will have to go it alone for the moment, as Amore suffered a concussion at Payback.
Forced into a solo role temporarily, Big Cass will get a chance to see how much he's grown from his FCW days, how much he's evolved since he was a stiff rookie in all black.