It has been a month of dreams for Cameron Grimes.
The pro wrestler in WWE’s NXT promotion made his on-screen debut on “Raw,” a show that nearly two million people watched on Monday — and this was after he and his girlfriend of 10 years purchased their first home, in Florida.
The home they bought was nearly brand new — it was nine months old; the woman who had it built wound up having to move for work, and it was a culmination of a wealth-building journey for Grimes, who by his own account grew up in a family with scarce income in North Carolina.
“My father was married a few different times,” Grimes told The Post. “When I was going into sixth grade, his last marriage ended and we moved out of the house with his ex-wife and moved in with my grandmother. Then, just being a single father, it was hard for him to get a place. We lived with my grandma and my great uncle in a three-bedroom house. My dad and me shared a room until the end of high school.
“That sucked, because you couldn’t really have friends over and stuff, so I was always going to friends’ houses just trying to get out.”
This complaint notwithstanding, it was a situation with more love than tension.
“I would say there wasn’t any tension,” he said. “Everybody’s kind of in those situations where I grew up in North Carolina. We lived in a low income area so we didn’t see it any different. We were a very loving family. My father’s father passed away when he was young, so they didn’t get a lot of time together. I actually never met my grandfather. My dad and my grandmother had a very strong bond and their love carried over to me.”
One of the things that gave him inspiration at the time was that he lived near Matt and Jeff Hardy, whose successes made him believe his dreams were in reach.
“Looking out my window, I saw those guys drive past every way. It helped encouraged me and it helped solidify knowing that this was what I wanted to do and be,” Grimes said.
Grimes’ late father, Tracey Caddell, was a pro wrestler and promoter, and knew the Hardys so well that Grimes said Matt was in the hospital the day he was born and was like an “uncle” to him.
After high school, he moved to Burlington, NC and trained at CWF Mid-Atlantic.
“I slept on as many couches as I could until I wore out my welcome, and then my girlfriend and I lived at the training facility,” he said. “It was kind of embarrassing because we had shows every weekend and we had to kind of hide our stuff and make it look like we weren’t living there, but it was part of the grind. It was never a possibility that this wasn’t gonna happen — it was just when it was gonna happen.”
He worked his way up to wrestling in high level indie promotions like PWG in Southern California and AAW in Chicago, where there was a percolating scene with a couple dozen performers including Matt Riddle, MJF and the Lucha Brothers who have since made it to solid footing in the industry in WWE and AEW. He’d get paid a “few hundred dollars” a night to hone his craft. Eventually, he started getting TV reps in TNA (now called Impact).
Grimes signed with WWE in 2019. With a solid paycheck in hand, he began dabbling in investing, whether it be for long-term retirement purposes or speculation in meme stocks like Gamestop or AMC, or cryptocurrencies like Dogecoin.
This dabbling in finance eventually led to a gimmick of being “The richest man in NXT” — and he even did an angle with the original Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase. They did vignettes, rode in a Rolls Royce and threw money around. Grimes felt that, unlike the reputation of many former pro wrestlers, DiBiase was “fired up” to help his career.
Fast forward to this past Monday, and Grimes made his debut on “Raw” in a backstage segment.
“I always thought I was gonna have that moment, but you never know how it will come. I thought I might be an extra — like a security guard in the arena or something — but to come in and to be featured in a spot with A.J. Styles, who I’ve looked up to since I was a child and I emulated a lot of his career early on because he’s just so good. So to be able to be featured with him and the Good Brothers [Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson] was so cool. It’s indescribable.”
NXT’s Halloween Havoc airs Saturday night on Peacock; the main event is a triple threat between Bron Breakker, Ilja Dragunov and JD McDonagh for the NXT championship.