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NXT's North American Title Scene Gets Hotter Ahead Of Heatwave

Another top-tier championship match is set for next week’s huge event!

By Chris Phelan
Image of Carmelo Hayes and Giovanni Vinci

The NXT North American Championship has always been synonymous with prestige. After all, it has been held by some of the all-time greats in NXT history: Ricochet, Johnny Gargano, and Damien Priest — just to name a few. 

Current champion Carmelo Hayes recently became only the second multi-time North American Champion in history when he regained the title in a classic bout against Cameron Grimes back in June.

In fact, the WWE Universe can trace the parallels between the NXT North American Championship and the WWE Intercontinental Championship; both are titles that represent the very best in-ring performers in the world, men who are capable of iconic and legendary matches day in and day out.

Giovanni Vinci has always viewed himself as in that upper echelon of talent, and he’s been waiting for an opportunity like this.

Unfortunately, Vinci’s first crack at Hayes’ championship slipped out of his hands because, well, he didn’t quite make it into the ring in time. Let’s take you back to the Aug. 2 edition of NXT 2.0:

NXT commentator Wade Barrett was absolutely giddy at the prospect of Vinci answering Hayes' open challenge, going as far as to declare, “Oh my word, these two are gonna tear the house down!”

They were going to tear the house down — until Nathan Frazer ran past Giovanni Vinci and got into the ring before Vinci even knew what happened. Frazer took advantage of the careful wording of Carmelo Hayes’ open challenge: The title opportunity would be granted to the next person to step into the ring, not make their entrance.

Nathan Frazer was unsuccessful in his bid to win the North American Championship that evening, leading to Giovanni Vinci confronting Carmelo Hayes in the ring last night and making their title match official for Heatwave:

If anybody had any doubts that these two would eventually put on a classic and memorable match, the pull-apart brawl between the two men should ease those concerns; they were reversing each other’s moves left and right, and they weren’t even in an actual match!

Usually, the intensity that builds up before a big championship match comes to a head via a wild brawl that sends the Capitol Wrestling Center into a frenzy. It’s a lot of punching, shirt-pulling, and maybe a table gets broken. 

Not last night. We saw what essentially served as a preview for their match at Heatwave next week: A lightning-fast barrage of counter-wrestling ending with Hayes escaping a powerbomb. There was barely any contact made last night during their encounter because both Hayes and Vinci are that damn good at what they do. When you perform at such a high level, you’re always one step ahead of your competitor.

When both competitors are on that level, it leads to dodged spin kicks, ducked clotheslines, and slick reversals galore. No fists needed. 

At NXT Heatwave, the WWE Universe finally gets to witness Carmelo Hayes and Giovanni Vinci square off for the North American Championship. Hopefully, Vinci has a little more pep in his step on the way to the ring this time, just to be on the safe side.

Will Carmelo Hayes continue his epic reign as the only other Superstar other than Johnny Gargano to hold the North American Title at least twice? Or will Giovanni Vinci establish himself as one of the greatest Superstars in NXT by capturing this coveted championship?

We can’t wait to find out, but one thing’s for sure:

Expect them to absolutely tear the house down.

Wade Barrett will be a very happy man.

Catch up on all things WWE Universe on USA Network and Peacock.