Carmelo Hayes had options before signing with WWE.
Hayes signed with WWE in February 2021 and has already become one of the faces of NXT as the reigning NXT North American Champion.
Speaking to Graham GSM Matthews of DailyDDT, Hayes discussed having other options.
“It was around December I had an interview with Canyon Ceman, a phone interview, and from there on they mentioned they’d probably bring me in after WrestleMania,” Hayes explained. “I said to him, ‘Hey, if you can get me in sooner, can you please get me in as soon as possible?’ He told me, ‘We have a class of 20 people coming in, so we don’t know if we can get you in this round.’ They hustled and got me in with that February class. Everything happened really quick. I feel like everything does happen for a reason and timing is everything because it could have been a bad time a year ago. It might not have been who I am today or who I was in February.”
While Hayes didn't directly mention AEW, he hinted that AEW was an option for him by discussing the other top company.
“I didn’t think I’d get here this round,” Hayes said. “I thought I’d have to go somewhere else and then from there get here because everybody knows WWE is kind of like the land from far, far away. It’s that tip of the iceberg in that way. You don’t just take one step and pop up in there. You look at the guys that are in NXT now. They’ve come from other companies, years from experience on TV here or there.
“I thought that would be my route, so I was totally okay [doing that],” he added. “But then I had a change of heart and thought, ‘You know what? I’m going top two and it’s either WWE or somewhere else. Those are my two that I’m going for. That’s all it’s going to be and I’m going to get there somehow, some way.’ I had both opportunities right around the same time and I chose WWE and to come here.”
Hayes made his NXT debut in June, challenging Kushida for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. He then went on to face Adam Cole before winning the NXT Breakout Tournament.
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