Carmelo Hayes Gets Candid About Being One Of The Faces Of NXT's 'Rainbow Era'

Carmelo Hayes's time in "WWE NXT" is over as he was promoted to "SmackDown," the 3rd overall pick in this year's WWE Draft. During his tenure in "NXT," Hayes was one of the faces of the company's transition from the rainbow-colored "NXT 2.0" to the return of the black and gold aesthetic of the brand's initial halcyon days. In an interview with "The Masked Man Show," Hayes looked back on being the face of the rebrand.


"Shawn [Michaels] has told me straight up that he couldn't have done it without Bron [Breakker], myself, and a couple of other guys," Hayes admitted. The former NXT Champion was part of a class of 20 "NXT" recruits, and managed to stand out from the pack. The brand was beginning to rebrand from the skull-centric look of the ThunderDome era, into the newer, colorful "NXT 2.0," which was overseen by Michaels and featured a lighter tone to the once-serious wrestling product. "It was that black and gold stigma and then they switched everything around that's when people were like, 'Woah, this is gonna suck.'"

Hayes says that no matter what era of "NXT" he was involved in, he made a conscious effort to be different. The "2.0" era did not last long and soon "NXT" was a healthy mix of new rookies and main roster stars, but Hayes was still the same Hayes.


"I was like, 'I want to test myself against [NXT's original journeymen talent],' I want to work with the best. Period," Hayes said. The headstrong recruit felt he could match the talent of a Johnny Gargano or Tommaso Ciampa, and in testing himself against said talent, Hayes found out his own weaknesses and places he needed to improve. "I looked at the [top guys in NXT] and I said, 'Why can't I be them?'"

If you use any quotes from this podcast, please credit "The Masked Man Show" with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.