After watching Trick Williams return to the NXT locker room with his newly won North American Championship around his waist, Carmelo Hayes knew the pressure was on to keep his championship reign alive at No Mercy.

Facing off against one of the most prolific performers on the NXT roster, with a commanding win over Gunther that earned a 5.25-star rating from Dave Meltzer sitting atop his resume, Hayes technically already had a win over Ilja Dragunov from The Great American Bash coming into the show, but he did so with Trick Willie in his corner. Standing solo in the penultimate match of the show, would Hayes be able to come out on top and send his seventh title challenger into the rafters?

Working a long, hard-fought battle that highlighted what makes both performers so special, Hayes and Dragunov had the crowd in the palm of their hands for the better part of 20 minutes, with more than a few near-falls resulting in incredible gasps and rousing applause, especially as things started to heat up in the end.

With not just the match but the championship dominance of the Trick Melo Gang on the line, fans were left utterly shocked when, after some brutal back-and-forth brawling, Dragunov closed out the match with an H-Bomb for the win, becoming a champion in the WWE Universe for the first time since he relinquished his NXT UK Championship due to injury in July of 2022.

How will it affect Hayes and Williams now that, for the first time ever, the latter is a champion and the former is not? Well, considering the “A-Champ” was looking awfully long at the North American Championship after reconvening with Trick in the locker room, we might just be looking at a feud down the line after No Mercy.