The field for the highly-anticipated 2021 NXT Breakout Tournament was unveiled during NXT Great American Bash with all eight competitors being announced inside the Capitol Wrestling Center.
The 2021 NXT Breakout Tournament will feature:
- Carmelo Hayes
- Andre Chase
- Trey Baxter
- Duke Hudson
- Josh Briggs
- Joe Gacy
- Ikemen Jiro
- Odyssey Jones
The tournament will kick off next week with a showdown between Ikemen Jiro and Duke Hudson as both look to make a major statement to the rest of the competition. Who will steal the spotlight as the black-and-gold brand’s next rising star?
It was announced during tonight’s NXT Great American Bash special that the following newcomers will be featured in the tournament – Trey Baxter, Carmelo Hayes, Andre Chase, Josh Briggs, Ikemen Jiro, Joe Gacy, Odyssey Jones, Duke Hudson. The tournament begins next Tuesday night with Jiro vs. Hudson. Last Friday, on WWE 205 Live, Gacy defeat Desmond Troy to qualify for the tournament, while Chase defeated Guru Raaj to qualify.
Chase is the former Harlem Bravado on the indies. He signed with the company back in the February WWE Performance Center Class. He is a veteran of the independent scene. The North Carolina native has found success as a singles and a tag team competitor and made his way to Japan to compete for Pro Wrestling NOAH.
Gacy is a former CZW Champion and EVOLVE star, who signed in the October 2020 Performance Center Class. The 6-foot, 249-pound powerhouse from New Jersey is a former three-time Combat Zone Wrestling Heavyweight Champion and EVOLVE Tag Team Champion.
Baxter is the former indie star, Blake Christian. He also signed in the February WWE Performance Center Class. Baxter made his debut on the June 15 NXT show, losing to NXT Cruiserweight Champion Kushida. The former college cheerleader broke out on the independent scene in a matter of a few months before signing with NXT. The Tennessee native made a name for himself under the moniker Blake Christian in promotions like Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Game Changer Wrestling.
Hayes was known as Christian Casanova in the indies. He also signed with WWE in that loaded February Performance Center Class. He made his NXT debut back on June 1, losing to Kushida via Open Challenge. Hayes then lost to Adam Cole on the June 22 show. The Massachusetts native came with six years of experience in the ring, under the name Christian Casanova.
𝑱𝒂𝒑𝒂𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒆 𝑯𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝑺𝒕𝒚𝒍𝒆.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) July 7, 2021
Briggs used that same name on the indies and was the final EVOLVE Champion. He was signed with the October 2020 WWE Performance Center Class and has not debuted yet. An imposing figure, standing 6-foot-8 and weighing 268 pounds, Josh Briggs battled the likes of NXT United Kingdom Champion WALTER, Matt Riddle, John Morrison and Raw Tag Team Champion Angelo Dawkins.
Jiro was signed in the December 2020 WWE Performance Center Class and was trained by former WWE Superstar Tajiri in Japan. He was known as Sojiru “Ikemen” Higuchi before coming to WWE. Jiro made his WWE debut back on the May 7 205 Live episode, teaming with August Grey for a win over Tony Nese and Ariya Daivari. The following week they defeated The Bollywood Boyz on 205 Live, but then lost to The Grizzled Young Vets on the June 8 NXT show. Jiro’s singles debut came on the June 18 205 Live show as he defeated Nese. He then defeated Daivari the following week.
Jones is former college football player Omari Palmer, who was signed in the February 2019 WWE Performance Center Class. He was brought to the July 2 SmackDown episode to work a dark match against Robert Roode for officials. Jones made his NXT in-ring debut at a November 2019 live event, losing to Dexter Lumis. He only worked 5 NXT live event matches after that before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, losing his first three matches to Lumis, losing his second match to Brendan Vink, losing his fourth to Killian Dain, and then defeating Mohamed Fahim in his last match.
Speaking of Vink, he is now known as Duke Hudson. He previously went by Elliot Sexton and Tony Modra. Vink signed with WWE in the February 2019 Performance Center Class, and made his in-ring debut at a March 15, 2019, live event, defeating Nick Comoroto. Vink was brought to RAW in March 2020, in a tag team with Shane Thorne (Slapjack), where they worked a few matches and were briefly aligned with MVP. He has not wrestled since May 11, 2020, RAW, where he and Thorne teamed with MVP for a loss to Ricochet, Cedric Alexander and R-Truth.
The winner of the NXT Breakout Tournament will receive a title shot of their choosing, at any time. The first tournament was held in 2019 and saw Jordan Myles get the win. He went on to unsuccessfully challenge then-NXT Champion Adam Cole.
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE