Carmelo Hayes: Looking At The Future Of The Man Who Doesn’t Miss
Carmelo Hayes is one of the brightest young superstars in the WWE right now. At 28 years old, he has a good 12-15 years left if he stays healthy and chooses to keep going.
The former Christian Casanova was one of the hottest independent wrestlers in the world competing for companies like Beyond Wrestling, Chaotic Wrestling, Northeast Wrestling, and so on, winning multiple championships in the process. Of course, his big break came on February 12th, 2021 when he signed with WWE and was assigned to the Performance Center with a new name, Carmelo Hayes. He was part of the largest recruiting class in company history. Names you know who are still with the company such as NXT Champion Bron Breakker, LA Knight, Cora Jade, former NXT Tag Team Champion Brutus Creed and former NXT Women’s Tag Team Champion Gigi Dolin.
Some people look at Carmelo’s success in NXT 2.0 and forget that he is actually one of the holdovers from the previous version of NXT, having debuted on the June 1st, 2021 edition of NXT, accepting Kushida’s open challenge for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. Most people, however, probably remember his appearance on the June 22nd edition of NXT a bit more as he accepted an open challenge from Adam Cole in a segment that called back to the classic John Cena debut against Kurt Angle in 2002. You could tell they had big plans for Carmelo as they placed him in the 2021 Breakout Tournament. Hayes defeated Josh Briggs, Duke Hudson, and Odyssey Jones on the way to winning that Breakout tournament and a contract to face any champion he chooses.
Carmelo was good, but things really took off on the September 14th edition of NXT, when Hayes officially aligned himself with the smooth-talking Trick Williams. Hayes proved his worth on October 12th, 2021, when he cashed in his Breakout contract on then North American Champion Isaiah “Swerve” Scott the capture the North American Championship, thus completing a long-teased heel turn. Over the next year, he would hold that title twice while also unifying it with the NXT Cruiserweight Championship by defeating Champion Roderick Strong on January 4th. Hayes would lose the North American Title to Cameron Grimes at NXT Stand and Deliver before regaining it at In Your House on June 4th. Hayes lost the title to Solo Sikoa in controversial fashion on September 13th and failed to regain the title at Halloween Havoc after it was declared vacant due to Solo not being authorized to be in the match.
The question is, what’s next? What’s next for the Man who doesn’t miss? He’s a former 2-time NXT North American Champion so it would feel like he’s just spinning his wheels. The only thing that is really left for him in NXT is the NXT Championship. Carmelo Hayes and Bron Breakker haven’t really crossed paths in a major feud. They were teammates at NXT War Games in 2021. However, they have been either intentionally or unintentionally kept apart since then. That is the biggest match you can have for that NXT Title right now. The only other person who comes close to the level of readiness and success in NXT right now is Bron Breakker. Do the NXT higher-ups want to go that route? NXT has a Premium Live Event on December 10th called Deadline. That would be a hell of a top match for that show. Personally, I think Carmelo Hayes is beyond ready for a call-up to the main roster.
Recently, Shawn Michaels on a conference call to promote Halloween Havoc, had nothing but nice things to say about Carmelo. Here’s part of what Michaels said about Hayes.
“I have taken interest in Melo from day one. I got him on television as quickly as I could. At the time, I believe it was still 205 Live. I was talking to him and I said, ‘I just want to get you out there, get you in front of the people and in front of Hunter.’
He said, ‘I don’t want to be living in 205.’ ‘I know. For me, it’s more important to get you out there so everyone can see that this kid can go.’ Carmelo and I get along great. He’s a good kid and I think the sky is the limit for him. He’s special. He’s talented.”
It’s clear that Shawn sees something in him. Maybe a young Shawn Michaels? I could see it.
It also makes me think Hayes is ready for the main roster. A lot of people have been fantasy booking Hayes as the mystery partner for Hit Row on Smackdown against Legado Del Fantasma. I wouldn’t hate it but I would prefer a slightly more impactful debut.
To be clear, I think Trick Williams needs to be with Carmelo when he comes up. Trick is essential to that act and I believe their routine would get over massively with the main roster audience, even those that might not watch NXT. Carmelo recently talked about working with his Trick, who is an ally to Hayes along with being a bodyguard of sorts just like Diesel was for Shawn Michaels almost 30 years ago.
“It’s like a cheat code. I got it on my own. But it’s like somebody that just makes you so much better, you know what I mean? He complements me so well. I complement him so well. And there’s so many different things that we can do as a duo in one match. There’s so many different backstage segments, promos; it’s endless with Trick and I, we’re just so creative individually.”
“Then we put it together, and we just make what we do every week on TV. [Shawn] told us, ‘Hey, we need to get you guys doing something, but maybe we’ll throw you guys in a barber shop or something like that.’ OK, no problem. We get a couple of people, and we really just riff, man. We just sit in the barber chair and we just talk how we would talk. And obviously we still got to pull back on a lot of things that we would say we would do, but yeah, man. So smooth, man.”
There are so many talented wrestlers on Raw and Smackdown that we have yet to see Hayes cross paths with. Guys like Kevin Owens, Drew McIntyre, GUNTHER, AJ Styles, Finn Balor, and my personal favorite choice, United States Champion Seth Rollins. Can you imagine a rivalry between Hayes and Rollins? Banger after Banger. There’s also the imminent return of The American Nightmare. A Cody Rhodes and Carmelo Hayes feud would be magic in 2023. Hayes always refers to himself as undeniable. The perfect way to prove that is by facing the man who went from Undesirable to Undeniable, Cody Rhodes.
There are so many possibilities for Hayes on the main roster as a babyface or a heel. Part of me would think it would be awesome to see Carmelo become the NXT Champion but a part of me also knows that likely means a longer stint in NXT and I honestly think he has done all he can for that brand. I strongly believe Melo is more than ready to take the ball on Raw or Smackdown. I don’t want WWE to bring him up unless they have a solid plan for him. but I can see multiple options for him right now. I trust the creative regime of Triple H to do the right thing and bring Carmelo up the way he should be, as the potential major superstar that he is.
Only time will tell what happens to the former North American Champion. Whether the NXT Title is in his future or a chance on Raw or Smackdown. One thing I do know is that whatever they give Hayes, and Trick Williams for that matter, he will knock out of the park. Just like he has done everything else he has been given.
Melo’s match with Ricochet at Worlds Collide is proof of what he could do on the main roster. All they have to do is give him the ball. After all, when Melo shoots, he doesn’t miss.
Thanks for reading. Check out my TJRWrestling writing archive here. I’m on Twitter @GiftedMoney talking about wrestling among other things, so feel free to message me on there with any thoughts or comments.