On this week’s edition of NXT, the WWE Universe saw the in-ring debut of an independent wrestling sensation. Formerly known on the indies as Christian Casanova, the man now known as Carmelo Hayes wrestled his first match on the black-and-gold brand against current NXT Crusierweight Champion, Kushida. Hayes challenged the reigning titleholder, and to say that this was a big moment for the newcomer would be an understatement, Despite suffering a loss to the champion, Hayes put forth a solid performance.
Entering this match as the relative newcomer, Carmelo Hayes held his own against longtime NXT Superstar Kushida. Hayes’ charisma was matched by his fast-paced, high-flying offense, which proved to be a solid contrast to the grounded, technical approach of the “Time-Splitting” Cruiserweight Champion. Surprisingly, Hayes maintained control of the match until Kushida was able to knock the challenger off the apron. However, Hayes soon shifted the match back in his favor, even getting multiple near falls on Kushida. Ultimately, though, Hayes would be caught with a Hoverboard Lock, leaving him no choice but to submit. Post-match, Kushida showed respect toward his challenger, shaking the hand of the newcomer in Hayes.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) June 2, 2021
Carmelo Hayes began his professional wrestling career in 2014, debuting for Chaotic Wrestling. From there, he made a name for himself across various organizations. These included, but weren’t limited to, Northeast Championship Wrestling, Beyond Wrestling, and Game Changer Wrestling. Hayes’ final independent match took place this past March at Limitless Wrestling’s Double Vision event, where he lost the Limitless Wrestling World Championship to Daniel Garcia.
Hayes achieved considerable success as an independent wrestler. As stated earlier, he was the Limitless Wrestling World Champion, having won the gold this past December. He would also become a 2x Chaotic Wrestling World Champion, his second reign lasting a staggering 488 days. With these successes in mind, it’s fair to assume that the self-proclaimed “Top Talent” will be vying for championship gold. Though he came up short tonight, expect the NXT Cruiserweight Championship to remain in Hayes’ sights.
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