Carmelo Hayes talks Shawn Michaels trusting him, NXT 2.0 appealing to a new audience

Carmelo Hayes speaks about his relationship with Shawn Michaels and Michaels having faith in him

Photo Courtesy: WWE

Carmelo Hayes makes the rounds on the media circuit to promote NXT 2.0

The conclusion of last week’s episode of NXT 2.0 saw the crowning of a new North American Champion in Carmelo Hayes. Carmelo used the contract he earned by winning the 2021 Breakout tournament to get a shot at the North American Title and ultimately defeat Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott for the title.

Bully Ray and Dave LaGreca welcomed Carmelo onto Busted Open Radio and he dove into the relationship he’s established with Shawn Michaels. Carmelo feels that he’s been prepared for his recent success and recalled telling Michaels that he wants to be a top guy.

I’m taking it in stride [his newfound success in NXT 2.0] but, this is something that I feel like I’ve been prepared for. When I signed to WWE, I had the mindset of whatever comes, I’m gonna make the most of it and take it. You know, I had a conversation early on with Shawn [Michaels] about how I wanted to be a top guy eventually and he pretty much was like, ‘All right. We’ll give you the ball and if you can run with it, then we’ll get you where we need to get you.’

Further elaborating on his conversation[s] with Shawn, Carmelo expressed that he did not want to land in 205 Live. He added that he does not mean any disrespect by that, but he did not want to be slotted into that category.

He feels that by him speaking up, that’s what gave Shawn Michaels the thought that Carmelo was ready to take the next step to becoming a key piece in NXT 2.0.

So, the conversation happened where I explained to him [Shawn Michaels] — this was back in June around the 205 Live, lots of things were going on with 205 Live and I really didn’t wanna be a 205 Live guy, especially being smaller just because I saw more for myself. Not saying anything is wrong with 205 Live but I just didn’t wanna get pitched into that category, so I spoke up and I truly believe that you speak up. Closed mouths don’t get fed so I spoke up the first opportunity I had. I said to Shawn, ‘I see myself becoming a top guy. Help me, take me there’ and I think that-that was what gave him the, ‘Okay, this kid’s a little different’ and then on top of that, my mindset is that every time I go out, it’s WrestleMania no matter what. So, I’m not just happy to be here. I really, truly, truly wanna be great so through my work, through my actions, through my attitude, my training here at the PC, in the gym, I’m just working hard. I wanna work harder than everybody else and I think it’s showing.

In regard to the creative freedom in NXT 2.0, Carmelo said talents are being trusted to speak and present themselves as authentic as possible with bullet points that those running the show want touched on. Carmelo said Shawn Michaels told him that he does not know what cool is, so he’s trusting Carmelo to relay that to the audience watching the show.

You know, I’ve been lucky enough to where they’ve [powers that be in NXT 2.0] trusted me to kind of say what I want. I mean that’s the direction they’re going now, truly. They are trusting guys, especially down here in NXT 2.0. They’re trusting guys to kind of say what we would say because you obviously know we’re trying to reach a different demographic now so, you know, they can’t really tell us — Shawn [Michaels] had said to me straight up, word for word, ‘I don’t know what cool is so I trust you to tell me what cool is’ and that’s the biggest thing that I’ve been able to take away from that is, ‘Okay, trust me.’ I told him straight up, ‘Trust me. I’ll do my best and I’ll make sure that’, you know — I’ll do my part to try to reach that demographic.

That target audience has shifted since the rebranding of NXT to NXT 2.0. Carmelo said it was relayed to talents that a specific demographic and audience is being targeted for the show and he feels that is evident by the changes made to the brand.

It was told like, ‘Hey, you know, we’re trying to reach a new audience here.’ This is a fresher, younger, brighter’ and everybody knows that now, seeing what we’re watching now. A lot more focused on characters, less on wrestling and that’s perfect for somebody like me, you know? That’s what I wanna do. I can be the leader of that and the forefront of that, put me in coach. I wanna try and you know, help get that.

Hayes is the 11th NXT North American Champion. Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott had been champion since June and he along with Hit Row (Top Dolla, B-FAB & Ashante Thee Adonis) are moving to the SmackDown brand.

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Busted Open Radio with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions. 

About Andrew Thompson 2806 Articles
A Maryland native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.