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Carmelo Hayes makes NXT debut, answers Kushida's open challenge


Carmelo Hayes wanted to make his NXT debut a memorable one, answering Cruiserweight Champion Kushida's open challenge Tuesday.

After a competitive match, Hayes eventually succumbed to the Hoverboard Lock, giving Kushida his second successful title defense.

The 26-year-old Hayes was formerly known on the indies as Christian Casanova and signed a WWE developmental deal in February. He was part of the largest-ever Performance Center class announced that same month and was previously seen on TV as a unnamed security team member.

Hayes hung with Kushida the entire match, but the beginning of the end came when he ate a right hand as he sprung off the ropes. Kushida followed with a soccer kick and then the submission for the win, showing respect by shaking Hayes' hand afterward.

William Regal recently said that new cruiserweights were coming to NXT. Kushida had won the title in an open challenge in April, defeating then-champion Santos Escobar.