WWE NXT’s Carmelo Hayes To Compete in United States Title Tournament

The tournament to determine Logan Paul’s next challenger for the United States Championship is underway. The official bracket includes Dragon Lee, Santos Escobar, Grayson Waller, Bobby Lashley, Kevin Owens, Austin Theory, Karrion Kross and a mysterious NXT competitor.

On Friday’s SmackDown Lashley and Santos Escobar came out victorious in their matches advancing to the tournament semi-finals. Ahead of this week’s matchups, Shawn Michaels has announced that the mystery NXT name is none other than former NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes. Hayes is also a two-time NXT North American Champion and former NXT Cruiserweight Champion.

Hayes is fresh off a win against Lexis King at NXT Deadline, the final NXT PLE of the year, and will compete against Grayson Waller for an opportunity to advance in the United States Championship tournament semi-finals. Should he make it to the finals he will battle it out against the winner of Bobby Lashley vs. Santos Escobar.

“When it was announced an NXT Superstar would be competing in the United States Title Tournament on SmackDown, there was a line outside my office door. The man at the head of that line, and the man who will be representing NXT, is Carmelo Hayes,” Michaels announced in the video. This will mark Hayes’ official SmackDown televised debut as he previously wrestled a dark match in 2021 with Trick Williams against Erik and Ivar of The Viking Raiders.

Hayes previously appeared on an episode of WWE Raw where he faced off against Finn Balor. Seth Rollins and Finn Balor were set for a face to face confrontation ahead of their title match at Money in the Bank. Eventually a brawl broke out among them leading Balor to attempt to go after Rollins with a chair. Hayes, who was sitting ringside, grabbed the chair out of Balor’s hands and Rollins used his forearm to throw Balor over the barricade. The match between Balor and Hayes was made official for later that night and although he lost that match, it left fans wanting to see more from the star.

Hayes has had an amazing run in NXT. From building himself from the ground up to becoming the face of NXT 2.0 and beating almost every single wrestler on the NXT roster, it seemed like he was primed for a main roster call up any day. This especially seemed to be the case when he lost the NXT Championship to Ilja Dragunov. At this point, he has accomplished everything there was to do in NXT, even getting co-signs from Superstars like John Cena and Cody Rhodes. Could this lead to a main roster call up for the A-Champion? Only time will tell.