When Trey Miguel meets Sami Callihan in a Last Man Standing match Sunday at Impact Wrestling’s Rebellion pay per view, it will represent an opportunity for Miguel to elevate his status in Impact.
The 26-year-old has a dozen years of experience in wrestling, and though he has established himself as a joy to watch in the ring, he is still nowhere close to hitting his prime. There is also a deeper symbolism at play, as Miguel, in his own specific manner, is already the last man standing in Impact.
On the precipice of a breakout run with Impact last year, Miguel appeared to be on a career trajectory toward WWE. There was specific interest in The Rascalz, a group in Impact consisting of Miguel, Dezmond Xavier (Deveon Aikens) and Zachary Wentz (Zachary Green). Dez and Wentz officially announced in December they were WWE-bound, and they have been outstanding thus far in NXT.
Working under the names Wes Lee and Nash Carter, they have brought a whole new level of brilliance to the tag team ranks as MSK, even winning the NXT tag titles two weeks ago at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver.
“I called them that morning and said, ‘I know you’re taking home the belts,’” says Miguel, whose name is Trey McBrayer. “And when they did, I texted and said, ‘I told you!’ I’m so happy for them. I was never upset about those two sticking together. That’s the way it was before Impact.
“I’m grateful I had the chance to work with my two best friends. They deserve all their success. The only thing I need to remind myself is that they have new names now.”
Miguel was expected to didn't go with them and sign with WWE. Instead, he surprised many of his peers by opting to remain with Impact.
“I did what I had to do,” Miguel says. “Logistically, I couldn’t do it.”
One of 12 children, Miguel is particularly close with his family. And after the recent birth of his nephew, who was born two months premature yet, miraculously, now has a clean bill of health, he feels even more reason to be surrounded by his loved ones.
“My nephew is alive and healthy, and he’s so beautiful,” Miguel says. “My life is here. It just didn’t make sense for me to leave and move to Florida [to sign with WWE].”
Miguel’s nephew is Kelvin, carrying on a name of significance in the family. Miguel’s brother Kelvin passed away in March 2013, forever leaving a void in the vibrant space that followed wherever he traveled.
“My brother Kelvin died when he was 26, the same age I am now,” Miguel says. “He meant so much to me, and he gave me so much confidence. My heart was in such a bad place when I lost him. He never missed a show when I wrestled, so without him, I just couldn’t see myself wrestling anymore.”
During a difficult grieving period, Miguel received an uplifting message from Johnny Adkins, better known as Big Bubba Luscious, the promoter of Metro Pro Wrestling in Michigan. He reached out, saying he did not want to see Miguel stop pursuing his wrestling dreams.
“He offered me work and paid me $40, and that was the first time in three years I’d made a single dollar in wrestling,” Miguel says. “More than the money, it meant so much that he cared. Just by giving me a little hope, he single-handedly stopped me from giving up.”
Miguel also began thinking of new ways to honor his brother, and he now keeps Kelvin’s memory alive every time he steps in the ring.
“I had a hard time getting over that I’d never see my brother again,” Miguel says. “Now my left arm is a full sleeve tattoo completely dedicated to my brother. I have a violin on my forearm because he was a beautiful violinist, and I have a Type-1 diabetes awareness ribbon at the top of my forearm, which is how he passed away. Above that is a caricature of him. He loved anime, cartoons, any type of animation. I love that when you see me on TV, you’re also seeing my brother.”
Staying rooted to his family has always been the priority for Miguel, a decision that has also benefited his in-ring work.
“It’s a blessing in disguise that I stayed with Impact,” says Miguel, who is also the head trainer at the Skull & Bones Pro Wrestling School in Toledo. “Since that time, I’ve found new legs to stand on, a higher level of performing. I’m now becoming the wrestler I always wanted to be.
“Watching my matches through 2020, I stayed with a lot of the same formula. That’s not it anymore. I’ve been training so much with Alex Shelley, and he’s been the most instrumental part in terms of repacking myself. Now I can have much better matches against Ace Austin, Josh Alexander, TJP and everyone else. There is so much wrestling I get to do in Impact.”
Miguel is proving that, ultimately, it is far more about the performer than it is the platform. With an evolving skill set, he is ready to show a hardened, grittier side–one that will complement his smooth aerial display—in Sunday’s match against Callihan.
“Sami has done so much to elevate me,” Miguel says. “He draws emotion out of people. I always walk away a better wrestler after working with Sami, and I’m ready to make this special.”
The story arc has been well-developed, with Callihan playing off reality by mocking Miguel for losing his friends in Impact. A memorable pay per view performance should catapult Miguel to the top of the X Division title picture. Considering he is already aware of some of the responsibilities shouldered by a champion—he is the reigning champ for Chicago-based indie Warrior Wrestling—Miguel is eager to take the next step in his career by attaining gold in Impact.
“The easy decision for me would have been to leave,” Miguel says. “But I am really connected to Impact. As a teenager, I gravitated to TNA/Impact Wrestling because of the X Division. Back then, I had a really crappy television stand, so I had to literally stand in front of my TV for two hours, but I loved it so much.
“This is the first company to offer me a full-time television contract. I still have a lot to prove. I’m a firm believer you don’t leave the court without winning, and I want the X Division title. There is more of a story between me and Ace Austin. I chose to stick around and see it through.”
Miguel is building his home in Impact. He is just beginning to scratch the surface of his wrestling goals, and he now goes back to work—sticking to his traditional means of motivation by carving out a few free minutes this weekend to watch the Samoa Joe-Austin Aries match from Slammiversary in 2012 for inspiration—seeking to capture the wrestling world’s attention at Rebellion, a card headlined by Kenny Omega and Rich Swann, elevating himself in the process.
“I’m proving I belong in the upper echelon,” said Miguel. “I’m not here because I’m Sami’s opponent. I am proving I am going to be a top guy.
“This is my chance to prove I belong where I am. After Sunday, everyone’s going to believe it.”