Carmelo Hayes
Hayes in August 2022
Birth nameChristian Abraham Brigham
Born (1994-08-01) August 1, 1994 (age 29)
Framingham, Massachusetts, U.S.
PartnerKelani Jordan (2023–present)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Carmelo Hayes
Christian Casanova
Billed height5 ft 10 in (178 cm)[1]
Billed weight210 lb (95 kg)[1]
Billed fromWorcester, Massachusetts
Boston, Massachusetts
Trained byBrian Fury
WWE Performance Center
DebutApril 12, 2014

Christian Abraham Brigham (born August 1, 1994) is an American professional wrestler. He is currently signed to WWE, where he performs on the smackdown brand under the ring name Carmelo Hayes. He is a former one-time NXT Champion, a former two-time and longest combined reigning NXT North American Champion, and the final NXT Cruiserweight Champion, having unified it with the North American Championship.

Prior to signing with WWE, Brigham wrestled on the independent circuit primarily in the New England region under the ring name Christian Casanova.

Professional wrestling career

Independent circuit (2014–2021)

Christian Casanova at an independent show in December 2019

After being trained by Brian Fury,[2] on April 12, 2014, Brigham made his professional wrestling debut for independent promotion Chaotic Wrestling, losing to Mikey Webb.[3] Over the next few years, he worked for various promotions including Beyond Wrestling, where he won the Pride of New England Tournament for Tomorrow.[2][3] On March 17, 2016, Brigham won the Chaotic Wrestling New England Championship.[3] On March 16, 2018, Casanova won the Chaotic Wrestling Tag Team Championship alongside Tripilicious. On March 29, 2019, Casanova won the Chaotic Wrestling Heavyweight Championship for the first time, and on August 30, won it a second time, thus making him the Twelfth Triple Crown Champion in Chaotic Wrestling.[3] On December 19, 2020, he won the Vacationland Cup while working for Limitless Wrestling.[4]

WWE

Debut and North American Champion (2021–2022)

On February 12, 2021, Brigham signed a contract with WWE and was assigned to the WWE Performance Center.[5][6] He made his in-ring debut on the June 1 episode of NXT under the name Carmelo Hayes, accepting Kushida's open challenge for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship, but was defeated.[7] On the June 22 episode of NXT, Hayes had his second match, reminiscent of John Cena's SmackDown debut in 2002 against Kurt Angle, confronting and facing Adam Cole in a losing effort.[8] In July, Hayes took part in the 2021 NXT Breakout Tournament, defeating Josh Briggs,[9] Duke Hudson,[10] and Odyssey Jones to win the tournament.[11] On the September 14 episode of NXT, Hayes and a debuting Trick Williams maliciously attacked Hudson before his match, establishing themselves as a heel duo and forming the Trick Melo Gang.[12]

On the October 12 episode of NXT, Hayes successfully cashed in his Breakout Tournament contract on Isaiah "Swerve" Scott to win the NXT North American Championship.[13] He made his first successful title defense on the November 23 episode of NXT against Johnny Gargano and Pete Dunne. After the match, Hayes, Tony D'Angelo, Bron Breakker and Grayson Waller brawled with Gargano, Dunne, Tommaso Ciampa and LA Knight,[14] leading to a WarGames match at NXT WarGames on December 5,[15] where Team 2.0 defeated Team Black and Gold.[16] At NXT: New Year's Evil on January 4, 2022, Hayes defeated NXT Cruiserweight Champion Roderick Strong to unify the North American Championship and the Cruiserweight Championship.[17] Hayes was recognized as the final Cruiserweight Champion, which was then retired, and continued as North American Champion.[18] He retained the title against Cameron Grimes on February 15 at NXT: Vengeance Day[19] and on the March 1 episode of NXT against Dunne.[20] After the match, Hayes announced that he would be defending the title in a five-way ladder match at NXT Stand & Deliver on April 2,[21] where Grimes won the championship, ending his reign at 172 days.[22] At Spring Breakin' on May 3, he failed to regain the title from Grimes in a triple threat match involving Solo Sikoa.[23]

At NXT In Your House on June 4, Hayes defeated Grimes to regain the North American Championship.[24] He then retained the title against Tony D'Angelo,[25] Grayson Waller on July 5 at NXT: The Great American Bash,[26] Giovanni Vinci on August 16 at NXT: Heatwave,[27] and Ricochet on September 4 at Worlds Collide.[28] On the September 13 episode of NXT, Hayes lost the championship to Sikoa, ending his second reign at 101 days.[29] On the October 11 episode of Main Event, Hayes made his main roster debut, defeating Cedric Alexander.[30] At NXT Halloween Havoc on October 22, he failed to regain the North American Championship in a ladder match.[31] On the November 22 episode of NXT, he challenged new champion Wes Lee for the title in a losing effort.[32] Hayes competed in the inaugural Iron Survivor Challenge at NXT Deadline on December 10, which was won by Waller.[33]

The HIM Era and NXT Champion (2023–present)

Following this, Hayes would begin a feud with Apollo Crews, where they would trade victories with each other,[34][35] leading to a two out of three falls match at NXT Vengeance Day,[36] where Hayes defeated Crews in two straight falls. Later that night, Hayes and Williams confronted NXT Champion Bron Breakker following the latter's victory over Grayson Waller, teasing a future match between the two.[37] After weeks of teasing, the match between Hayes and Breakker for the NXT Championship was confirmed for NXT Stand & Deliver.[38] With an assist from Williams, Hayes defeated Breakker on April 1, 2023 to win the NXT Championship in the main event of Stand & Deliver.[39] This made Hayes the first man to have held the North American, Cruiserweight, and NXT championships. During the build up to the match, Hayes would begin to slowly turn face. Hayes' face turn was solidified on the April 4 episode of NXT when Breakker, enraged over having lost the title, turned heel by attacking him when Breakker faked a show of respect prior to the attack.[40] At NXT Battleground on May 28, Hayes successfully defended the NXT Championship against Breakker.[41] On the May 30 episode of NXT, Hayes successfully defended the NXT Championship against Noam Dar, after which, he was attacked by Baron Corbin.[42] Hayes wrestled his Raw debut match on June 26, where he was defeated by Finn Bálor in a non-title match.[43] The following night at NXT: Gold Rush, Hayes successfully defended the NXT Championship against Corbin.[44] On the August 2 episode of NXT, Williams told Hayes that he needs to leave and shine on his own, separating the Trick Melo Gang.[45] At NXT No Mercy on September 30, Hayes lost the NXT Championship to Ilja Dragunov, ending his reign at 182 days. Earlier that night, Williams defeated "Dirty" Dominik Mysterio to become the new NXT North American Champion, but lost the title back to Mysterio on NXT three days later.[46][47]

On the October 17 episode of NXT, Williams was slotted into the triple threat match between Hayes, Dijak and Baron Corbin to make it a fatal four-way match for a NXT Championship opportunity against Dragunov at NXT: Halloween Havoc. This caused a rift between Hayes and Williams as Hayes was blindsided by the announcement. Before the match started, Williams was found attacked backstage and had to be taken to a hospital. Hayes went on to defeat Dijak and Corbin for the title opportunity.[48] On Night 2 of NXT: Halloween Havoc, Hayes failed to regain the title from Dragunov after being distracted by the returning Williams, who stared Hayes down after the match.[49] On the November 21 episode of NXT, Josh Briggs defeated Hayes to qualify for the Iron Suvivor Challenge at NXT Deadline after interference from Lexis King. This led to a match made between Hayes and King at NXT Deadline, which Hayes won. After the match, King said that he did not attack Williams back in October and thanked Hayes for the premium live event spotlight. Later that night, Williams won the Iron Survivor Challenge. After Dragunov's title match victory against Corbin, Williams came out to stare Dragunov down and Hayes was then seen walking up to Williams as the show went off the air.[50][51][52] On the December 12 episode of NXT, Hayes accused Dragunov of attacking Williams in October and himself early that night, which Dragunov denied.[53] In his SmackDown debut match on December 15, Hayes, who was chosen by Senior Vice President of Talent Development Creative Shawn Michaels to represent NXT in SmackDown's WWE United States Championship #1 Contender Tournament, defeated former rival Grayson Waller in the first round of the tournament but lost to Kevin Owens in the semifinals the following week.[54][55][56]

Other media

Carmelo Hayes made his video game debut in WWE 2K23.[57]

Personal life

Brigham is currently in a relationship with fellow professional wrestler Lea Mitchell, who also wrestles in NXT under the name Kelani Jordan.[58][59]

Championships and accomplishments

References

  1. ^ a b "Carmelo Hayes". WWE. Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Crockett, Paul (April 23, 2019). "GENERATION NEXT 2019: THREE INDEPENDENT STARS READY TO BREAK THROUGH". PWInsider. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d "Carmelo Hayes Bio". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  4. ^ Defelice, Robert (December 19, 2020). "Limitless Wrestling Vacationland Cup 2020 (12/19) Results: The Limitless Championship Tournament!". Fightful. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  5. ^ Nason, Josh (February 12, 2021). "WWE signs Christian Casanova to developmental deal". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  6. ^ "Largest recruit class in history reports to WWE Performance Center". WWE. February 24, 2021. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  7. ^ Moore, John (June 1, 2021). "6/1 NXT TV results: Moore's review of Johnny Gargano vs. Pete Dunne vs. Kyle O'Reilly for a shot at the NXT Championship at NXT Takeover In Your House, MSK vs. Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde for the NXT Tag Titles, Kushida's open challenge for the NXT Cruiserweight Title". Pro Wrestling Dot Net. Archived from the original on June 3, 2021. Retrieved September 14, 2022.
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