This week on Impact on POP, Ethan Carter III lost his just recently regained TNA World Heavyweight championship to Matt Hardy in a Career for Title Last Man Standing match. The match included Matt Hardy getting aggressive with a Twist of Fate onto an open chair, attempting to hit EC3 with a hammer and even enlisting the services of EC3’s bodyguard Tyrus. He ended the match with a one man Con-Chair-To to EC3’s fallen body and celebrating with his wife Reby Sky.
For a lot of people, the timeline on the TNA World Heavyweight championship and this entire situation is more confusing than the fact they actually executed a successful double turn between Hardy and EC3. I’m going to do my best to figure it out.
Making sense out of Ethan Carter III, Matt Hardy and the TNA World Heavyweight championship
The best I can do to explain the multiple title switches for TNA Wrestling is by first breaking down the timeline of what it appeared to be (before getting into what it really was):
- Originally, TNA wanted Ethan Carter III vs. Jeff Hardy at Bound For Glory, despite all of the time they put into building up Drew Galloway as a heroic babyface.
- Jeff Hardy could not compete in the main event of Bound For Glory, leaving TNA without a main event and an undefeated heel champion.
- They realized they needed Drew Galloway in a major match and without Hardy there, they could finally build up to a match between two guys WWE should have never released.
- They still wanted some star power and without Jeff Hardy to wrestle in the match, might as well throw in Matt Hardy. Oh, and make Jeff Hardy the special guest referee.
- Matt Hardy wins by pinning Drew Galloway, thus becoming TNA World Heavyweight champion with EC3 never being properly pinned. Galloway goes from heroic uprising babyface to the guy to eat the pin in the main event. Jeff Hardy is special guest referee and definitely leans the match in Matt’s favour, making all of the babyfaces look dirty.
- Matt Hardy vacates the title, which was actually the original plan so they could do the World Title series they spent months taping.
- Ethan Carter III wins the World Title series by beating Matt Hardy to become champion again.
- Matt Hardy puts his career on the line against Ethan Carter III for a title shot, cheats constantly, even gains the services of Tyrus to turn heel in the match. Ethan Carter III ends up getting a babyface reaction for taking the beating, thus creating a double turn.
So what can we get out of this is that TNA Wrestling originally knew that they were going to have to vacate the TNA World Heavyweight championship because they planned a World Title series to happen in case the company is in a limbo situation with Destination America, who was pushing them away. They still wanted EC3 to be a top guy but they also wanted a situation where they had to turn someone heel. The plan was likely for Matt Hardy to be the special guest referee in the match between Jeff Hardy and EC3, and Matt crooking the match in Jeff’s favour would make some sense for an eventual heel turn.
EXCEPT… Jeff Hardy had to be the referee instead, causing a bizarre situation. Now Jeff has to be the babyface in the middle while Matt Hardy completes his heel turn. Suddenly since Bound For Glory the title has bounced between two men to lead to the original story of a heel Matt Hardy as champion and Ethan Carter III burgeoning as a babyface.
I can see what TNA Wrestling was trying to do, as convoluted as it became, and I’m not quite sold on it yet. Matt Hardy is likely to reprise his character in Ring of Honor as the rich greasy veteran who will do whatever it takes to keep his spot in the face of the future passing him by. The problem is that Ethan Carter III has been the rich greasy youngster who will do whatever it takes to keep his spot in the face of the past coming to haunt him… and now he seems saddled with a bizarre double turn. While some people get vibes of Austin/Hart due to it being a double turn, I get a vibe from a different TNA World Heavyweight championship situation.
Bobby Roode and James Storm
What about Bobby Roode? Roode was supposed to be the future of TNA after winning the Bound For Glory Series and taking on Kurt Angle at Bound For Glory in 2011. TNA built a fantastic story for Roode to be the face of the company, only for Hulk Hogan to decide behind the scenes that Roode didn’t have enough edge. Roode lost his match to Angle, only for Angle to drop the title soon after to Roode’s Beer Money partner James Storm. Roode and Storm agreed to have a match as friends, only for Roode to turn heel on Storm and become the leader of the Selfish Generation.
Roode stayed heel and was actually one of the best champions in pro wrestling during his reign, turning multiple situations of chicken excrement into chicken salad. The problem was he probably could have been that anyway as a babyface. The entire time it felt like the original situation was supposed to be James Storm turning on Bobby Roode, complete with Roode’s original weapon to turn being a beer bottle. It would make sense for James to be jealous of Bobby, but it had to be flipped around due to Immortal interference.
Due to the flip, Roode ended up being a fantastic heel champion while Storm was stuck as a foolish babyface that could never get the championship back from Roode. It eventually killed his momentum, momentum that was instead stolen by Austin Aries, who became the man to beat Bobby Roode for the championship. Unfortunately for Aries, that title reign was stopped with a dumb heel turn since he was facing… Jeff Hardy. Man, Jeff Hardy ruins a lot of Bound For Glory main events!
What does this mean for Ethan Carter III
What I’m getting at is Bobby Roode got saddled with a bad situation and was able to overcome it. I have no doubts Ethan Carter III can do the same. He’s right now the most exciting part of every Impact episode and will likely find himself a strong niché as a young babyface champion trying to prove himself against heel veterans like Matt Hardy. He might have had a lot more mileage as a heel but this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line for Ethan. He was always going to get a chance to be a good guy, and now he has a chance to carve out his legacy a little early. EC3 could become the guy people tune in to watch Impact on POP for, unlike Dixie Carter’s constant reliance on the dwindling popularity of the Hardy brothers.
The only person who will end up hurt out of this is the forgotten Drew Galloway, who once had the momentum to be a top babyface in TNA. Now he’ll have to wait for his chance to turn heel. It’ll probably come when the Hardy Boyz officially join the Dudley Boyz in the WWE sometime later this year.