Hayes recently shared on Busted Open Radio. that his NXT mentor Shawn Michaels has developed a great deal of trust for him. He said that Michaels defers to him when it comes to what is cool or not.
“Still using bullet points, but I’m big on trying to say stuff that I would truly say. So, a lot of the stuff that you hear is 100% from me with their direction. I’ve been lucky enough to where they’ve trusted me to say what I want. That’s really the direction they’re going now, truly. They are trusting guys and giving guys, especially in NXT 2.0, they’re trusting guys to say what we would say because we’re trying to reach a different demographic now. They can’t really tell us…Shawn has said to me straight up, ‘I don’t know what cool is so I trust you to tell me what cool is.’ That’s the biggest thing that I’ve been able to take away from that. I said, ‘Okay, trust me, I’ll do my part to reach that demographic.'”
He also elaborated on the importance of reaching a younger demographic. Carmelo said that he was told the idea was to reach a fresh audience. The company is now focusing more on characters and less on in-ring action. Hayes says if that’s the case, he wants to become a leader.
“It was told, ‘Hey, we’re trying to reach a new audience here. This is fresher, younger, brighter.’ Everyone knows that now and seeing what we’re watching now. A lot more focus on characters, less on wrestling, and that’s perfect for somebody like me, that’s what I want to do. If I can be the leader of that and at the forefront of that, then put me in coach. I want to help get that.”
There has been a lot of talk about reaching demographics lately. WWE SmackDown and AEW Rampage recently went head-to-head. In the key male 18-49 demographic, AEW came out on top.
While NXT 2.0 aims to directly target that coveted demographic, it has consistently delivered its most viewers in the 60+ demo. Former WWE superstar Sean “X-Pac” Waltman recently criticized the company for being out of touch with the target audience.
The colorful WWE brand is building to Halloween Havoc on October 26. In addition to the wrestling return of Chucky the killer doll, there are three title matches currently on the card. It is still unknown if Hayes will defend his title on the show.
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Thanks to Fightful for the quotes!