Since April of this year, Carmelo Hayes has held the NXT Championship and has done so with pride. Throughout his title reign, Carmelo Hayes truly showed why he is indeed HIM, and his performance this past Saturday night at No Mercy against Ilja Dragunov showed no difference.
On April 1st, 2023, Hayes defeated former NXT Champion Bron Breakker at NXT Stand & Deliver in an incredibly hard-fought match. Since then, Hayes would go on to defend his NXT Championship against the likes of Bron Breakker, Noam Dar, Baron Corbin, and Ilja Dragunov.
However, Dragunov had a goal in mind and he was not going to stop until he got his hands on the NXT Championship. This past Saturday, that happened as Dragunov defeated Hayes in an incredibly hard-hitting match. This was the right move on WWE’s end for a plethora of reasons.
Why Ilja Dragunov was the right man to defeat Carmelo Hayes for the NXT Championship?
So, it officially happened. Carmelo Hayes dropped the NXT Championship to Ilja Dragunov at NXT No Mercy. This happened for a number of reasons, one of the most popular ones being Hayes could be on his way to join Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits to form the new Hurt Business.
This was teased a number of times both on NXT, and SmackDown. With Hayes dropping the title, it looks like it could be happening sooner rather than later. This is going to be very cool to see how Hayes adjusts on the main roster, surrounded by arguably one of the top factions in WWE today.
However, anyone could have been the man to dethrone Hayes, which begs the question, why Ilja Dragunov, and why was it the right move? Well, the answer is fairly simple, Dragunov is NXT’s next top guy, and it’s been clear to see all along.
Dragunov returned to NXT back in September of 2022. However, it wasn’t until his rivalry with Dijak that fans really took a liking to the Russian-born superstar. Dragunov showed his hard-hitting style multiple times, but his match with Dijak at NXT Battleground was the icing on the cake.
At NXT Great American Bash, Dragunov first challenged Hayes for the NXT Championship but was unsuccessful in doing so. However, this would not be the case again on Saturday night.
Dragunov has shown multiple times how good he is, showing that first-hand in his match-of-the-year performance with Walter. With Dragunov now at the top of the mountain, the future of NXT remains in very good hands.