Carmelo Hayes on Facing Challenges: ‘I’m a Swimmer, I’m Worth the Opportunities’

Carmelo Hayes on Facing Challenges: 'I'm a Swimmer, I'm Worth the Opportunities'

Carmelo Hayes on Facing Challenges: ‘I’m a Swimmer, I’m Worth the Opportunities’ – Former NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes was selected by SmackDown in the 2024 WWE Draft, marking his transition to the main roster. On his debut night on the blue brand, Hayes faced the Undisputed WWE Champion, Cody Rhodes. Since then, he has engaged with various top stars, including Randy Orton. Hayes now has a significant opportunity at WWE Money in the Bank, where he will compete in the Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match.

In an interview with CBS Sports’ Shakiel Mahjouri, Carmelo Hayes opened up about being thrust into high-pressure situations on SmackDown. Reflecting on his experiences, Hayes shared, “I’d be lying if I said it felt new because I feel like they did the same thing when I got to NXT. They immediately put me up against KUSHIDA for the Cruiserweight Championship, put me against Adam Cole, and put me in the Breakout Tournament. I’ve been put in these high-pressure and sink-or-swim situations for as long as I can remember. I’ve proven every time that I’m a swimmer and I’m worth the opportunities.”

Hayes also expressed his gratitude to Triple H for the trust placed in him, particularly after being matched against Randy Orton. He reminisced about his match with Cody Rhodes, noting the significance of being the first competitor Rhodes faced after dethroning Roman Reigns. “I’m thinking, ‘Let me prove them right.’ I remember after working with Randy, I told Hunter, ‘Thank you for trusting me,’ and he said, ‘Well, of course. What do you mean? You’re here now and you’re in the mix.’ That was reassuring but at the same time to put me in the mix with the WWE Champion Cody Rhodes coming off the high of dethroning Roman Reigns and me being the first person he’s in the ring with is a huge trust. I wanted to prove I am of that caliber and I was the right guy. I was going to get in there and put on a quality match with the WWE champion and even in defeat look good.”

Hayes highlighted the challenge of reintroducing himself to a new audience as part of the business, emphasizing the need to adapt. He acknowledged that many fans might not be familiar with his achievements in NXT. “Reintroducing myself to a new audience is something you have to accept. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to Scotland, France, and Saudi Arabia. Even in Chicago, you’re going to new places where people don’t know who you are. They’re not familiar with NXT in a lot of places. There are a lot of casual fans so when you come out, the reaction is mixed. Learning how to adapt to that. At one point, you’re the top guy in NXT, and everyone knows who you are. They know your story and they know everything about you. They know your highs and lows. They’re connected. Now going into all these new venues and situations, you’re going up against their favorites. They’re thinking, ‘Who is this guy? They’re going to make quick work of this guy. He’s a nobody.’ Little do they know, I’ve accomplished a lot to get to this point,” Hayes explained.

Hayes’ journey on SmackDown showcases his resilience and adaptability as he continues to prove himself on the main roster, making the most of every opportunity and earning the trust of the WWE universe.

Carmelo Hayes on Facing Challenges

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