Q&A: Why Chris Jericho Decided to Spend 14 Weeks Building Toward Mimosa Mayhem With Orange Cassidy

Chris Jericho and Orange Cassidy square off in a Mimosa Mayhem match at AEW’s “All Out” in which the winner will throw his opponent into a massive tank of orange juice and champagne.
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Chris Jericho will wrestle Orange Cassidy this Saturday at All Out in a Mimosa Mayhem match.

While the wrestling industry and mimosas are not frequently associated with one another, the match makes sense given the history between Jericho and Cassidy. The winner needs to either pin, submit or toss their opponent into a tank of mimosa, a cocktail composed of orange juice and a little bit of the bubbly, which will serve as a unique presentation in the program-ending match between the established Jericho and an emerging star in Cassidy.

Best known for his time in the indies, the two constants of Cassidy are his outrageous athleticism and his innate ability to connect with a crowd. The feud with Jericho has elevated his status in AEW, and he has an opportunity to deliver a breakout performance on pay-per-view. For Jericho, this marks another chance to create new and memorable content, as well as leverage his legend to heighten the status of a potentially legitimate star.

Jericho spoke with Sports Illustrated about a host of topics, including the Mimosa Mayhem match, the story behind his program with Cassidy, whether he sees Brock Lesnar as a fit with AEW and who he would like to work with following All Out.

Before we get into Mimosa Mayhem, which other matches are you looking forward to at All Out?

There are a great handful of matches that are going to be really good. But to me, I can’t really pay attention or care too much about anyone else’s matches, and that goes for any pay-per-view I’ve ever been on. I’ll watch them and enjoy them after my match is done. There are going to be a lot of highlights, whether that be Moxley’s angle with MJF, or Matt [Hardy] and Sammy [Guevara] or the way Kenny [Omega] and Hangman [Page] are going to continue their story.

But I’ll be focused. To me, Mimosa Mayhem is more important than most matches I’ve had, because this is the first time there’s ever been one. I’ve been in a lot of firsts. I was in the first Money in the Bank, I was in the first Elimination Chamber, I was in the first Ambrose Asylum match. You can’t go back and watch previous Mimosa Mayhem matches for reference, because there aren’t any, so you have to keep that in mind. I have to be very creative about how we do this match, because it’s the first one. It has to be memorable, it has to be good and it has to be unique. That’s what this was created to be.

Your stature and star power allow you to have your pick of the roster. Why did you want to work with Orange Cassidy? What did you see in him that sparked your imagination?

When I first came to AEW, I was not a fan of Orange Cassidy. I just didn’t get it. When I actually spent some time with him, watching his matches and seeing how he connected with the audience, I realized that he’s over. That’s the secret of wrestling: getting over. He’s over because he’s doing something no one’s ever done before. That’s when I pulled my head out of my a-- and realized what he’s doing is great. People really respond to him because he’s the type of character we’ve never seen before, so I knew I wanted to do something with him.

This is a guy that hasn’t been in a main-event program before. I thought, let’s put him in one and see a side of Orange Cassidy, a violent side, that we’ve never seen before. Let’s see the Orange Cassidy that cuts a great promo and see how he does in an extended program. I believe we started this the week after Stadium Stampede, so it’s close to 14 weeks for this program. Any time you can do three and a half months in a program with somebody, that shows how special and how good the story is. It was something I had a hunch about, and I was right. We created some really good TV, and this is going to be a great pay-per-view blow-off match for this program.

In terms of execution, you have had one big program after another in AEW, especially with your pay-per-view matches. But those were more established opponents, like Cody Rhodes and Jon Moxley, and they were title matches, or something altogether unique like the Stadium Stampede. Orange Cassidy is a far different opponent, in terms of both presentation and the fact he is not nearly as established among viewers. What has been your biggest goal working so far with him?

I think I have a real eye for picking out guys that people want to see—new stars—but it’s not like I’m some sort of genius who waves my magic wand to decide who’s going to be a star. It’s more about having a hunch and seeing some of these people that can get there on their own. So it’s more about the proverbial rub, and a rub isn’t just being in a match with somebody or having one night with Chris Jericho. This is about a legit program over a couple months where you’re painted in a certain light, and the spotlight is on you to show you’re at a different level. A lot of Orange’s detractors say that he’s lazy or stupid, or that his stuff doesn’t make any sense. But this has been very believable, and it’s also a great gimmick. People of all ages can dress up like him. Orange Cassidy brings a lot to the table, and my goal is to show him in a different light and launch this guy into becoming a main-event guy, which we need to keep doing in AEW, and it’s what we’ve been doing all along.

Some guys were closer to it, like Cody. He was not a legit main-event money-drawing, TV-drawing performer when we started AEW. Same with Hangman, same with Kenny, same with the Bucks, same with Darby. They’ve all shown they’re ready to go to that next level, and we’ve helped all of them get there. Orange is one of those guys.

Do you start with your programs by charting out the end, then working back to the beginning? In this case, from the start, did you see this ending in a Mimosa Mayhem match?

No, but that’s the thing about wrestling: You have to go with the flow. I did have some idea that we would go a couple months, at least, but there was also the Mike Tyson aspect. We were negotiating and trying to figure something out with him, and we still are. It didn’t happen in the timeframe I envisioned. That’s why, after me and Orange Cassidy did the first match, there was no reason to end it. So let’s do a second match. That was originally going to be some kind of gimmick match, so to speak, then the Tyson thing got pushed back again, so we decided to do the second match and have the rubber match at the pay-per-view if needed. That’s what we did, so we needed to figure out what kind of gimmick match to do. I was thinking about a Last Man Standing, and that would have been fine, but Tony Khan and I had been laughing about mimosas. There’s something unique and special about Orange Cassidy and Chris Jericho, orange juice and champagne. It made me think of those FMW [Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling] exploding-barb-wire matches, where you get thrown into the exploding barb wire, but this is getting thrown into a tank filled with mimosa. Then I thought of coffin matches, where if you get thrown in, you’re out. So that led to thinking about losing this match if you get thrown into a tank of mimosa.

A key is playing it straight. This is not a Judy Bagwell–on-a-pole match, where it’s meant to be a joke. That’s why this can make it work. So I drew out my idea, a creation that looked like a 12-year-old drew it, and I called Tony and said I had an idea. He said, “A mimosa match?” And I said, “We’re thinking exactly the same.” And that’s when I explained the idea and sent him the diagram, and he approved it in like five minutes. Then we had to decide what kind of set to build, and then, like I said earlier, figure out what the hell we’re going to do once we’re in this match. That’s all part of the fun.

This is like a ladder match. It’s not about taking the title or the briefcase off the ladder. It is about the drama of climbing the ladder, or in this case, the drama of almost getting thrown into the mimosa—yet surviving, like the old Shawn Michaels skin-the-cat over-the-top-rope in the Royal Rumble. There are a million things we can do, and I plan on making sure we do a very smart, entertaining, fun match. That is the perfect way to blow off Cassidy-Jericho after 14 weeks.

You mentioned Tyson, whose schedule changed when his exhibition fight was moved from September to November. But he’s not the only professional fighter that would make a good opponent for you. Although you have never had a pay-per-view match together, you still share plenty of history with Brock Lesnar, who is now a free agent. Is Lesnar a perfect fit to insert in your next story, and is he the right fit for AEW?

I don’t know if Brock fits the whole AEW idea or attitude. That’s a Tony Khan decision and a Brock decision. Do I think Brock does this every few years just to up his price with Vince? Of course he does. He’s a genius when it comes to that. But hey, if he showed up in AEW, I’d be happy to go up against him and do the match we were supposed to do in April of 2018 in WWE that Vince then changed. We’ve never had a match on TV or pay-per-view, ever. If it came about, I’d be happy to go up and smack him in his fat face.

It was a year ago at All Out that you paved a new path for AEW as its first world champion. After defeating Hangman Page, you had that iconic championship celebration, which included the “little bit of the bubbly” line, and had a party by yourself, which ultimately led to the creation of the Inner Circle. Considering that the essence of the Chris Jericho story is continually creating compelling new content, can you top what you’ve already built in AEW?

That’s the reason why I’m here. It’s always about reinventing and evolving and creativity. Most of the stuff you’ve seen me do in the past year came from my mind, Tony’s mind and Cody’s mind, all working together.

I like to write weeks at a time. I just wrote the next 10 weeks of TV that starts on September 9, right after All Out is done. I write down some ideas, show them to Tony, he approves and off we go. Of course, that always morphs and changes over the course of those 10 weeks. That’s something we didn’t have in WWE. They wanted me to draw a picture, but I didn’t know what it was a picture of. In AEW, we always know what the picture is supposed to look like at the end, and we fill in the details as we go. That’s what good wrestling and good wrestling booking is all about.

Also, look at the roster. Who is the next Orange Cassidy? Maybe it’s somebody I won’t work with for a whole 14 weeks, but instead give them a spotlight for two or three weeks. My spotlight is engraved in gold at this point. I don’t need more of a spotlight. But I sure do like giving other guys a spotlight and seeing what they can do with it. Some will stick, some won’t, but that’s always been my goal and attitude. You can’t do Kenny vs. Jericho or Cody vs. Jericho or Moxley vs. Jericho three years in a row. The more colors we have on our palette to paint our stories, the better it is.

You’ve had shorter programs with Jungle Boy, Scorpio Sky and Darby Allin, which could all evolve into something bigger. Who else would you like to work with on the roster?

Those are great picks, and I worked with them in very short stories, but the reason was to start planting those seeds that these are top guys. And I wasn’t downplaying Jericho vs. Cody, because there is still a long way we can go with that. We could have done another match and spent another eight weeks together. Same with Kenny. We’ve had two matches, and there is a big rubber match in there somewhere. Hangman Page, there are a lot of places we can go with that. MJF-Jericho is very interesting to me, whether as a heel or babyface. There are a lot of different places to go.

And AEW is smart. Look at when Matt Hardy came in. You don’t program Matt Hardy–Jericho right away. It’s Matt vs. Sammy, Jericho vs. Cassidy. I like that. It doesn’t mean Matt and I can’t intersect, and we have, but there are a lot of different areas we can go. That’s exciting for me. Sonny Kiss. Jack Evans. I love those matchups. And the tag team, Sammy and Jericho—Le Sex Gods—we can do more there. I like tagging with [Jake] Hager, that’s a good combination, too. There are a lot of great places to go, and there is no rush. I’m not going anywhere, and I think most of these guys are locked in for four years, so it may be a year down the line before Jericho–Jungle Boy takes place, but it will take place.

For those of us who have been watching you throughout the course of your career, we have a pretty solid understanding of Chris Jericho. What are you looking to accomplish with the Mimosa Mayhem match this Saturday at All Out?

It’s going to be a new experience. Don’t forget, I created the Money in the Bank match. I created the Ambrose Asylum match to an extent, and that wasn’t as popular, but when you talk about the Money in the Bank, they’ve done that every single year since 2005, when Brian Gewirtz and I came up with that. And here we are with the Mimosa Mayhem match, and people may think that’s funny or they may think it’s stupid. But if it turns out great, who’s to say Orange can’t use it until the end of his career the same way Kane used an Inferno match? Obviously, it’s much more of a match that Orange would use in the future than I would, but who gives a s---? Either way, it’s a great idea that’s going to culminate this story. It wouldn’t work for Jericho vs. Kenny. It’s not that type of match. This is built around him dousing me in orange juice, and us returning the favor with champagne. For us, this is the next best step. It creates a whole new set of rules and false finishes and high spots, too.

I’ve read people’s comments. I have heard it is going to be stupid or that this is dumb. You should probably watch it first before deciding. I am not going to be involved in something I don’t believe will work. It’s going to be an exciting, unique, fun match, and people are going to enjoy it. This is the first time ever we’ll see it this Saturday, and it makes complete sense with the journey and the story we’ve told over the last 14 weeks.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.