Carmelo Hayes Advances in WWE United States Title Tournament

On WWE SmackDown, NXT Superstar Carmelo Hayes faced Grayson Waller to advance in the United States Title Tournament. Whoever wins the tournament will become Logan Paul’s next challenger. Hayes was announced as the mysterious NXT competitor last Friday night by Shawn Michaels.

While Hayes is making his entrance, a pre-recorded video of the United States Champion pops up. He’s upset that Waller has to “waste his time” in the tournament against “some guy” named Carmelo Hayes, who he assumes won an essay contest to get the match. “He said ‘Melo don’t miss’ but brother, I’ve missed your entire career. Have your family DVR SmackDown tonight because it’s the only time they’re going to see you in that ring. Good luck, random guy.”

Hayes gets the early advantage with a wrist lock. Waller tries to fight out of it but Hayes puts his knee on his face. Waller slaps Hayes across the face but it lights a fire in Hayes who chops Waller and counters him with an inside cradle. Hayes gets Waller tied up in the ropes, kicking him in the back of the head and then elbowing him. Waller rolls out of the ring but Hayes stays on him and sends him to the outside of the ring. Returning from commercial, Waller hits Hayes with a Rolling Flatliner. He kicks out but he does have an injured knee as he throws punches at Waller.

After some more back and forth, Hayes baits Waller with a First 48 and then heads to the tope rope for Nothing but Net. He goes for the pin and gets it, qualifying for the semi-finals. With Hayes advancing, he will now face Kevin Owens next week in a semi-final matchup. Hayes is a former NXT World Champion, a two-time NXT North American Champion and an NXT Cruiserweight Champion.

The match on SmackDown is Hayes’ second match on the brand, having previously faced The Viking Raiders with Trick Williams in 2021. He appeared on Raw earlier this year, stopping the Judgment Day’s Finn Balor from stealing a chair from ringside to attack Seth Rollins with. He faced Balor later that night and although he lost, it left fans wanting more from the Superstar. Since signing with WWE‘s NXT brand in 2021, Hayes led the charge as one of the faces of the NXT rebrand, NXT 2.0. WWE has since dropped that branding but Hayes has remained an integral part of weekly television.