Carmelo Hayes has been a member of the WWE Universe since all the way back in 2021, when he turned in his Christian Casanova card to take a shot at WWE supremacy.
Since then, he's gone from a standout on 205 Live to a regular on NXT proper, where he became the only man in the brand's history to hold the Cruiserweight Championship, the North American Championship, and the NXT World Championship during his developmental run. He's got the crowd behind him, has won most of his matches, 63.4 percent to be exact, and will forever be remembered as the man who ended Bron Breakker's second reign with the NXT Championship.
And yet, despite accomplishing oh so many things during his developmental run, one thing that hasn't happened in Hayes' career, at least not yet, is getting drafted onto either RAW or SmackDown, as his name was notably absent during the proceedings earlier this month.
Discussing his snub from the WWE Draft in an interview with WrestlingNews.co, Hayes accepted the decisions of RAW and SmackDown, letting it be known that he's still got plenty to accomplish before he leaves developmental behind for good.
“No sad feelings. At the end of the day, when you’re thinking about the draft, you’re thinking about getting the very best that there is to offer, so it was a little surprising that a couple names were mentioned. I’m not saying that those guys aren’t great talents, those girls aren’t talents cause they are and they deserve to be on the main roster, but I think I have unfinished business here and I’m okay with holding it down in NXT,” Hayes said via Fightful. “This is what I asked for, this is what I wanted. I wanted to be the face of the brand and I wanted to be the champion and defend this championship and take it to newer heights and newer levels. This was kind of right on pace for me. Moving up to the main roster, it’s a goal of mine, but it’s not going anywhere and I’m only gonna be better and these defenses are only gonna make me stronger and better.”
If the WWE Draft was like the NFL, NBA, or NHL Drafts, where brands look to secure the best talent available, it's hard to imagine RAW or SmackDown preferring to select someone like Apollo Crews, Cameron Grimes, or even Grayson Waller – okay, maybe not Grayson Waller – over Hayes, as he's the current NXT Champion and has wins over performers like Breakker, who also should have been drafted. Fortunately, WWE Creative has as much say over the draft selections as they do the outcomes of matches, so the decision to keep Hayes – and Breakker for that matter – in NXT, at least for now, likely has sound reasoning behind it. After spending years chasing the championship, it's time for “The HIM Era” of NXT.
Carmelo Hayes is ready for an all-out war with Bron Breakker at Battleground.
Elsewhere in his interview with WrestlingNews.co, Hayes was asked about the forthcoming match with Bron Breakker at Battleground, which will be the duo's second-straight main event match at a “Premium Live Event.” Though their first match was a certified mettle test between a pair of star acts with mutual respect, Hayes expects this to be more of an all-out fight than a gentleman's duel.
“It’s not cool, and I think this is beyond the championship at this point,” Hayes said via Fightful. “I said it before, he’s thrived without this championship. He doesn’t want this championship, he wants to hurt me and he wants to embarrass me in front of my friends and family. There’s a competition as to who the guy is, who’s number one and who’s number two. I always thought I was number one, he always thought he was number one. I am number one and he still thinks he’s number one, so we need to put that conversation to rest. At NXT Battleground, who the real number one is, undisputed, that’s where we’re gonna find out.”
What does Shawn Michaels have in store for WWE fans looking to keep things in the family instead of watching AEW Double or Nothing next Sunday? Will Breakker come out on top, beginning his this third title reign and first as a heel? Or will Hayes continue his winning streak and hopefully move past Breakker in favor of a new feud with an up-and-coming performer like Von Wagner or Dragon Lee? Fans will have to wait to find out; as you just know this isn't going to be an easy outing either way.