Indie Star Makes NXT Debut – This week’s WWE NXT episode saw Carmelo Hayes, formerly known as Christian Casanova on the indies, make his debut for the company.
Hayes answered an Open Challenge issued by NXT Cruiserweight Champion Kushida. Despite controlling a good part of the match, Hayes came up short. There was a post-match handshake of respect between the two competitors after the match.
Hayes also spoke before the match in a brief vignette, which was introduced by Wade Barrett, who noted that Hayes has been impressing people at the WWE Performance Center.
Hayes was signed in the same late February WWE Performance Center Class that included several top recruits – Franky Monet, LA Knight, Parker Boudreaux, Bronson Rechsteiner, Zayda Ramier, Zoey Stark, Gigi Dolin, Cora Jade, Asher Hale, and others.
Hayes is from Massachusettes and spent more than 6 years on the indies. He has worked for and held several titles for multiple Northeast indie feds, including Chaotic Wrestling, Northeast Wrestling, and Beyond Wrestling, among others. We noted before how WWE filed to trademark the “Carmelo Hayes” name back on May 26.
As seen in the video below, Hayes spoke with Samantha Johnson after the match for a backstage interview. She asked him what the experience was like.
“The experience was overwhelming,” Hayes responded. “Coming into my first match as a title shot, it’s just incredible, and not everybody gets that opportunity, but to be completely honest, me not winning the title really doesn’t mean anything to me because I woke up this morning as a champion, I’m a born champion, and you will see me with gold down the road. I promise you that.”
Johnson then asked what WWE fans can expect from Hayes now that he has debuted.
“I mean, you said it, this was my debut match, and I came in here in a championship match,” he said, laughing. “Really it’s only up from here, and I think you can expect big things from ya boy. I’m a generational talent, I’ll say that over and over again. I’m once in a lifetime, and they’re going to see it.”
Hayes also tweeted on the debut and wrote, “Debut on WWE TV in a Championship match against Kushida… this life is crazy. Appreciate ALL the love. Just know I love y’all right back. Let’s get this baggggg #WWENXT #Melo [love you gesture emoji]”
Kushida later made post-show comments on the match, writing, “KUSHIDA’s OPEN challenge… It doesn’t matter if it’s a debut wrestler, a retired wrestler, or anyone else’s challenge. Please contact NXT [phone emoji] @WWENXT 防衛成功 (successful title defense)!”
He added in a follow-up tweet, “A wrestler made his NXT debut on live TV. This fact makes me feel that I am trusted by @WWENXT. My policy is to meet people’s expectations beyond expectations. I will continue to wrestle for this title to be more valuable. Please follow me.I makes you rock. #期待には期待以上で (#ExpectationsExceedExpectations) [four leaf clover emoji]”
Stay tuned for more on Hayes in WWE. You can see the related tweets below, along with photos and videos from the debut on NXT: