During the October 12 edition of NXT, Carmelo Hayes cashed in a title opportunity he earned by winning the NXT Breakout Tournament to challenge Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott for his gold, following Scott’s title defence against Santos Escobar.
As per Fightful Select (subscription required), Hayes cashing in and winning the title was done to establish him as a new star, while protecting Scott ahead of his SmackDown move.
The report also stated that the Money in the Bank style cash-in had not previously been played up so it would come as a surprise to the fans.
Fightful noted that Hayes has impressed many ‘people of influence’ at the Performance Center and on NXT, including Shawn Michaels. Many within the Performance Center reportedly view Hayes as a Shawn Michaels ‘project’.
After NXT, Hayes took to Twitter with a photo of him posing with HBK:
Goated 🐐🐐 pic.twitter.com/wuC2etNcOp
— Carmelo Hayes (@Carmelo_WWE) October 13, 2021
Hayes bout with Kushida on the June 1 episode of NXT opened up more opportunities for the prospect as per the report, including his match with Adam Cole on the June 22 show.
Fightful also revealed that earlier this year, there were plans for Hayes to join the cruiserweight roster, following reports that NXT intended to highlight the division. These plans were reportedly nixed following mass releases.