Cameron Grimes is hoping to add a Mid-Atlantic flair to the NXT title.
A product of Cameron, N.C., Grimes is 28-year-old Trevor Caddell. He is the son of a wrestling promoter and grew up surrounded by a ring canvas and turnbuckles, quickly becoming devoted to an industry that can be cold and cruel. Yet Grimes is now only one match away from becoming NXT champion, as he challenges reigning champ Bron Breakker on Tuesday night in the main event of this week’s Great American Bash.
NXT 2.0 looks, sounds, and feels different from the famed black-and-gold era of the brand. No longer is it brandishing its outstanding TakeOver events, and it has moved from Wednesday to Tuesday, effectively ending a captivating head-to-head battle with AEW. But the top of the card is still very compelling, with Breakker, North American champ Carmelo Hayes and Grimes all developing into must-see attractions in the ring.
Speaking with Sports Illustrated, Grimes discussed his opportunity for the title, the qualities that separate him from Breakker, and what a title win would mean to him.
Sports Illustrated: This appears to be a certain victory for Bron Breakker, but you did a phenomenal job last week in your promo planting a seed of doubt that maybe, just maybe, you will defeat Breakker and become champion. It was also interesting how Breakker, who is the immensely talented Bronson Rechsteiner, noted that you have nothing to lose. As the son of a wrestling promoter, and someone who accepted no other lifestyle or future for yourself but pro wrestling, there is also a lot at stake here for you.
Cameron Grimes: People that have followed my story know that the stakes couldn’t be higher here for me. Unfortunately, Bron doesn’t know any better. He doesn’t see it like that. He’s incredible, but he is also a guy that has backup plans. Bron has options. As soon as he loses that NXT title, they’ll bring him up to Raw or SmackDown. For me, it’s different.
We talked before about how I dedicated my North American title match at Stand & Deliver for my father. I’m still carrying those dreams. I always told him I’d be a champion in WWE. I was only champ for 65 days. That wasn’t enough. Sadly, Melo just had my number. He deserves to be the North American champion. That’s when I realized, if I am as good as I think I am, I should challenge for the NXT title. Bron thinks I have nothing to lose, but that’s not true. Even if it’s a match when we’re touring in Cocoa or Largo, I don’t want to lose. This is the main event on USA for the Great American Bash, so I have everything to lose. And a lot to gain.
SI: You have developed a very unique style that is incredibly fun to watch. One of the best parts of watching your work is that, no matter what role you’re playing, you make it believable.
CG: Whether I’m a butler or challenging for the NXT title, I’m giving it my all. I think that’s brought a lot of fans to my corner. I may not look or sound like a Hollywood actor. I may even be an ugly duckling, but I’m proving I deserve to be here and I belong in these moments.
SI: It is difficult to compare NXT 2.0 to the black-and-gold era, and the brand does not have the same energy it did during its peak. But you could change that as NXT champion, which would fit your story perfectly,
CG: I look forward to the challenge of carrying this brand. I remember watching the very first NXT TakeOver shows, and I would dream about being in that spot. Then I got here, and now I truly believe I am ready. If not me, then who else? I’m 28 years old. I have 14 years in this business, seven years on television. I’m ready to be champion.
SI: You mentioned TakeOver. What matches resonated with you most from that era?
CG: I love the Claudio versus Sami Zayn series. I loved Neville as champion, I loved Kevin Owens as champion, I loved Bayley’s matches. We still carry that spirit of good, quality matches, whether we have a 2.0 number or whether we don’t.
SI: Your feud with Breakker has a chance to go to the next level if you win, especially with the story that Breakker may be more gifted physically but he cannot outsmart you.
CG: It does seem like he should be able to beat me. Bron is stronger, faster, bigger. His dad is Rick Steiner. He has it all. But I’m a rubik's cube. That’s what I am going to be against him. He won’t be able to solve me. I’ve forgotten more in this business than Bron Breakker’s learned.
I’ll do whatever it takes. Ladders and tables are in my blood. Will he take the same risks? I put my body on the line. And my experience has taught me what it takes to win. He doesn’t have that.
SI: Why should fans invest the time and watch you challenge for the title at Great American Bash?
CG: This could be the biggest of my entire career. And it isn’t just about me. The whole show is going to be outstanding. There is the men’s tag title match, the women’s tag title match, the North American title match. If you’re a wrestling fan, it would be silly to not watch. And I can only hope we’ll see a title celebration at the end of the night.
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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.