Big Cass opens up about addiction and returning to wrestling
Chris Van Vliet passed along:
Going into recovery for alcohol addiction became a matter of life and death:
“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.”
Does he think a WWE return is possible?
“I do. I think with time and earning people’s trust, just as I have earned my family and friend’s trust. People have to see you doing well over a certain period of time.”
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 [Lexy Nair, daughter of Dallas Page and AEW Backstage reporter].”
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 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.”
Did he think he was done with wrestling?
“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.”
At what point did he know he had a problem with alcohol?
“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.”
What he remembers from the night he had a seizure at the House of Hardcore event in Philadelphia:
“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.”
Was being released from WWE release the catalyst for him to start drinking?
“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 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 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.”