The Rise of new NXT Breakout Tournament Champ, Carmelo Hayes /

Carmelo Hayes has undoubtedly made an extraordinary impact in his most recent run in the Breakout Tournament over on the NXT brand. Of course, I had my eyes on him well before that and his rise in the world of professional wrestling has been an interesting one.

Overall, I see big things in store for this young talent who is full of charisma, athletic ability, and a style that hasn’t been seen in the ring in quite a few years. But what of his past and accomplishments so far? We’ll be taking a look at just that in this piece.

A new breed of Ruthless Aggression

Dare I say it, he reminds me of John Cena in his conviction and delivery, only with a far more athletic and technical style in the squared circle.

Cena became more of a brawler as his career took off, as did Steve Austin before him and Jerry Lawler even before that, and it served all three of these men very well indeed. But in Hayes, we have an individual that hits all three necessities in the business of pro wrestling: 1-the look (face and physique), 2-the technical side and in-ring savvy, and 3-the beginnings of some pretty convincing microphone delivery.

I mean, he even entered NXT with the same momentum that Cena did on SmackDown back in 2002. Actually, he even jacked his famous “Ruthless Aggression” line that he had used against Kurt Angle. Only Hayes mimicked John Cena against none other than NXT legend, Adam Cole. He even slapped him! Of course, Hayes added the element of distraction, tossing the microphone to hold as he wound up for the hard-hitting slap.

What’s that they say about imitation? It’s the greatest form of flattery. Indeed it is.

Yes, the young man definitely has it all, and as is quite clear so far in this piece, he’s been proving it quite well as of late.

The evolution of Christian Casanova

His real name is Christian Brigham and he hails from Worcester, Massachusetts…billed from Boston. Although early in his career he wrestled as Christian Casanova.

He started his wrestling career in 2014 according to, and at the age of 20 and despite him being in the business for only 7 years or so, his resume reads like someone who’s been in the business for twenty-five.

According to, he’s made stops in Northeast Championship Wrestling, Power League Wrestling, Independent Wrestling Entertainment, Chaotic Wrestling, Lucky Pro Wrestling, Xtreme Wrestling Alliance, Beyond Wrestling, UFO, Eastern Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor, and the list only goes on from there. See what I mean?

He’s been busy for sure. He even faced the likes of Daniel Garcia as well as so many other young talents on the independent circuit.

Some of the titles that he won include Limitless Wrestling World Championship (once), CW Heavyweight Championship (twice), the Liberty States Heavyweight Championship (once), as well as so many other titles, including various tag team championships with various partners.

And it would be in 2021 that he would finally sign with WWE, and at the age of 27, he’s young enough to learn from the ground up and continue to make an impression.

The 2021 Breakout Tournament

You might not believe me, and I wish I would have made this news public, but I knew he’d win the tournament from the first time he was announced. I’d already seen him compete and when he was announced as a competitor, I just knew he was a lock.

Yet even before the Breakout Tournament began on NXT, he was showing just what he was made of in bouts against Adam Cole and even the NXT Cruiserweight Champion, Kushida. In these matches, he showed a very deep sense of knowing just what he was capable of. I don’t want to say arrogance, so I’ll go with confidence, which in WWE most certainly goes a long way.

In the Tournament itself, he performed exceptionally well, showing that he could sell in the ring among the best in the business for sure. He took bumps like a real pro and overcame the odds, even the mammoth athlete, Odyssey Jones. At 400-plus pounds, he was my second favorite to win the Tournament, so I was pretty happy that they were both in the finals.

But Hayes did win, and the rest, as they say, is history.

What’s to come?

Well, I’ve used a few clichés in this piece already, and sometimes in journalism, clichés are kind of hard to avoid, and I’ll have to use one once more: to answer the question posed in the header of this section, the sky’s the limit for Carmelo Hayes.

He’s already made a promo on NXT TV since winning and was approached by none other than Legado Del Fantasma. They seemed to have issue with Hayes hinting at possibly going after the North American Championship, which is currently held by Isaiah “Swerve” of Hit Row. And Santos Escobar of Legado Del Fantasma is after that championship as I’m sure you well know, dear readers. But as of this writing, Hayes is set to face Escobar on next week’s episode of NXT according to

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In that same interview, however, Hayes also hinted at possibly going “straight to the top” to face none other than Samoa Joe, which if you ask me, would be exceptionally interesting to see. The confidence in this young man is through the roof (aha, yet another cliché).

Now talk about Ruthless Aggression.