With the launching of WWE NXT 2.0 (or 3.0 depending upon who you ask) there’s an opportunity for the WWE to look forward to the youth that adorns its roster. Pete Dunne is one of those individuals and he’s in the Fatal Four-way to determine the next champion. But the individual everyone is looking at as a potential titleholder is Carmelo Hayes. Even with a brief stint in the band, he’s shown that he can be the future of not only NXT but the entire WWE as well.
When Christian Casanova was signed to the WWE in early 2021, many people pointed to him as a prospect to keep an eye on. He had success across the independent circuit which included title reigns in multiple organizations such as NCW, LPW, and Limitless Wrestling. At 27-years old he is one of the individuals that could kickstart the much-needed youth movement within the WWE.
That success has translated to WWE in some regards. WWE’s tired troupe of defeating prospects with “tough” matches against veterans, Hayes has captured the attention of fans despite the practice. From his first match on WWE television in June against Kushida, he’s immediately elevated himself as the name to watch. That includes his victory in the NXT Breakout Tournament, which has helped create some of the top performers in NXT today.
The opportunity is right there to build Hayes up into a credible challenger. In many ways, WWE should look at how AEW handled its championship when the promotion first started. Chris Jericho was an established name that built credibility for the title. That credibility was transferred over to Jon Moxley when he won the title, kicking on a run that makes that belt one of the most protected in the industry. NXT’s title has been well protected as well, and this is an opportunity to further establish that value while building Hayes into a top contender and eventual champion.
Hayes has the promised title opportunity with his win in the Breakout Tournament. That contract shouldn’t be cashed in immediately, instead used as an item that puts him in credible feuds with the likes of Santos Escobar, Ridge Holland, Duke Hudson, and others. Use those wins to build him over time to be the top challenger to whoever comes out of Tuesday’s match with the belt. When the time is right, the title change would kick off an important moment in his career and the immediate future of the brand.
Carmelo Hayes has caught the attention of wrestling fans during his brief run in NXT. WWE needs to capitalize on this moment and build him as the top star in the promotion, using that placement to carry the relaunched brand into positive ground.