Carmelo Hayes has impressed some people of influence within NXT and the Performance Center. We're told by WWE Performance Center sources that Carmelo Hayes specifically caught the eye of Shawn Michaels, and was viewed as a "project" of his by many. Hayes had already impressed many, but a match with Kushida in early June opened up a lot of opportunities for him, including the follow-up match with Adam Cole. Another high level NXT source said that they believe Shawn Michaels sees a lot of himself in Carmelo Hayes, which seems to be backed up by Shawn Michaels taking a celebratory photo with Hayes following his NXT North American Title victory.
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. When asked about the nature of the contract being a "Money in the Bank" style cash in, Fightful was told that was not played up to help it serve as a surprise.
Fightful has learned that earlier this summer, Hayes was discussed for the Cruiserweight divsion, 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.
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