By Laura Amato
He may be 7 feet tall now, but WWE Superstar Big Cass—who was born William Morrissey—didn’t always tower above the crowd. Ten years ago, he was a scrawny 5-foot-8 kid who was cut from the varsity basketball team at Archbishop Molloy.
Cass wanted to play basketball at Molloy, but his height disadvantage made it hard to compete at the varsity level. He didn’t make it beyond tryouts during his freshman and sophomore years. Then, junior year came and Cass hit a growth-spurt of epic proportions.
“I sprouted my junior year and I grew about 10 inches to a foot in the course of a year. Jack Curran was the basketball coach there and he came up to me one day and said, ‘Hey, you should start training with the basketball team,’” Cass said. “I said OK and I tried out for the team and I made the team my senior year at 6-foot-8.”
“Molloy was awesome. I was in Catholic school my entire life up until college and that’s a blessing – it taught me a lot of life lessons that I carry with me to this day.”
After graduating from Molloy, Cass went on to NYU where he played basketball from 2005 to 2009, but despite his success on the hardwood, he couldn’t shake some other athletic dreams. He wanted to wrestle—in the WWE.
“I was always passionate about it from a very young age,” Cass said.
After participating in several wrestling leagues and going through a few in-ring name changes, Cass landed with the WWE’s developmental league, Florida Championship Wrestling, in June 2011. The league was rebranded into NXT in August 2012 and Cass picked up a partner, Enzo Amore. The pair, who met when they were teenagers playing pick-up basketball on West 4th Street, became fan favorites in NXT and after three years of competition, made their main roster debut earlier this year.
They’ve since only grown more popular. Fans across the country can recite Enzo and Cass’ entrance speech with practiced ease and it doesn’t surprise either one of them when fans start shouting catch phrases at them on the street.
“People will come up and say ‘How you doin’’ or ‘You can’t teach that’ when you’re like in the grocery store or whatever,” Cass said. “That happens a lot, actually.”
This has been his dream for as long as he can remember and if he has to recite a few lines to appease fans, he’s happy to do it.
“It’s just been a tremendous ride that we’ve been on ever since our debut,” Cass said. “The biggest thing is when we go out there, our main goal is to entertain and have fun with the fans. It’s very genuine.”
With the WWE Universe undergoing a brand extension last month, Cass knows the future is bright in the ring.
His in-ring accent isn’t quite as thick out of character, but Cass is still a New Yorker at heart. Even all those years after not making the basketball team at Molloy, the Glendale native simply wants to compete. He’s anxious to perform at his first SummerSlam at Barclays Center on Aug. 21 – his friends have already booked a suite—and he’s got his sights set on a WWE Tag Team Championship.
“It’s our No. 1 goal and it’s where we’re focused,” Cass said. “You need guys that are competitive, you need guys that hate losing, you need guys that always want to win. That’s the team I want to be on.”