Carmelo Hayes won the NXT North American Title, a move that left many inside the building and on the internet stunned. The NXT breakout star of 2021 cashed his Breakout Tournament contract during the main event of the October 12th edition of NXT 2.0.

Hayes and Trick Williams interfered during Isaiah “Swerve” Scott’s title match against Santos Escobar. But instead of putting down Scott, the two helped him retain the title. However, celebrations were short lived as Hayes used the opportunity to cash in on his contract; defeating the worn-out champion with a leg drop.

Given Hit Row’s imminent debut on SmackDown, many had suspected a title change to take place sooner than later; eyeing Escobar as the obvious pick to dethrone Scott. But it seems that the higher-ups have other plans for Legado del Fantasma (Escobar, Joaquin Wilde, Raul Mendoza and Elektra Lopez).

According to Fightful Select, the decision to put the strap on Hayes was made with the intent to create a new star as well as to protect Scott ahead of his main roster debut. Moreover, NXT 2.0 kept the whole sequence a surprise until Scott’s eventual loss to Scott by not letting the latter make a “Money in the Bank style cash in on the now former champion.

When Fightful asked backstage about the line of thinking of the title switch, we were told that the move was done to establish a new star, while still protecting Swerve Scott en route to his main roster run.

Fightful also reported that Hayes’ name was brought up for possible inclusion in the Cruiserweight Division as part of a planned revamp. But the management decided against that after the mass cuts that took place earlier this year.

Fightful has learned that earlier this summer, Hayes was discussed for the Cruiserweight Division, which was looking for a major revamp. After the mass releases that affected the division, a decision was made to not have Hayes in that division.

Backstage, Hayes celebrated his win by posing for a picture with the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. The Hall of Famer and current NXT producer congratulated the new champion on his win.

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Manik Aftab

A smark down to the bone!

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