Though Carmelo Hayes has never actually worked a televised match on RAW or SmackDown, with all of his matches in the WWE Universe either coming on NXT, Main Event, or a single dark match with Trick Williams on SmackDown back in 2021, few NXT Superstars appear as ready to take their show on the road – literally – as the A-Champ. He's a fan favorite, has a fully-formed character, and is one of the most talented in-ring performers in the company right now, with a well-rounded offensive skill set equally as effective against high-flyers, and as it is powerhouses.
But hey, don't take this humble writer's opinion on the matter, what does a more seasoned WWE talent have to say on the matter? Fortunately, while appearing together on The Bump, Hayes and Williams received a ringing endorsement from none other than Austin Theory, who was also on the show to promote his forthcoming match against John Cena at WrestleMania 39, and the former NXT standout has incredible praise for the potential NXT Champion-in-waiting.
“I mean, you know, I'd be a liar if I said I didn't see these guys on ‘Monday Night Raw' in the future,” Theory said via Wrestling Inc. “I specifically say ‘Monday Night Raw' because that is the show. That is where these two belong and that's where they're going to go …Trick, Melo, you guys know what you're doing. I could sit here and I could give you motivation all day, but you've already got it. You've both already got it.”
Whoa, on RAW you say? Did Theory simply mention the red brand because it's also the show he wrestled on, or does he know something fans don't about, oh, I don't know, MVP reuniting The Hurt Business with Hayes serving as the group's cruiserweight alongside Bobby Lashley and the tag team of Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander? Unfortunately, it's probably the former, but hey, you never know; Hayes may be throwing down with Theory for the United States Championship before fans know it.
Carmelo Hayes has big plans for this title after NXT Stand and Deliver.
Elsewhere in his appearance on The Bump, Hayes was asked about his forthcoming match with Bron Breakker at Stand and Deliver and let it be known that if he's successful in his championship pursuits, he has big plans for the current rainbow-themed championship.
“All I’m thinking about is that match with Bron,” Hayes said via Fightful. “I’m not really thinking about much other than the match. I mean, I’d like to get away from the rainbow championship. I think that that defines that generation of Bron Breakker, and we’re gonna move way past that and go into the Him Era, which is my era, the Carmelo Hayes era. So it is a possibility, but I need to get to LA and I need to get to Stand and Deliver before we start talking about those types of things.”
When the fine folks at The Bump noted that Hayes had actually lost his match at Stand and Deliver last year, the A-Champ acknowledged his shortcomings but promised that this year will be different, as he's fully ready to prove he's the top man in NXT.
“The fact that you bring up last year, if you look at who I was last year as a competitor, I was a completely different competitor,”Hayes said. “I’ve learned so much from my mistakes over the last years, and there’s very few mistakes that I’ve made. But I’ve learned from each and every one of those ones. But coming into this Stand & Deliver, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, I’m smarter than I’ve ever been, I’m at the top of my game, man. A lot of people talk about Bron Breakker and me having to beat Bron Breakker. But the real question is, can Bron Breakker beat me? I’m the one to beat in this match. He has to understand that. He’s never beat a Carmelo Hayes, he’s never been up against a Carmelo Hayes. So I’m a whole different beast, I’m a whole different animal coming into this match. He can’t block me, he can’t guard me. I’ve shot the shot 1,000 times. I really am him.”
Is Hayes ready to be “The Guy” in NXT moving forward, let alone the guy who unseats Breakker after 353 days and counting with the NXT World Championship? Only time will tell, but if the “Son of a Steiner” is ready to jump up to the main roster, either on RAW or SmackDown, Hayes is the obvious babyface to shepherd the company into the future.