On July 18th, IMPACT Wrestling held their annual Slammiversary event, their first pay-per-view event without a live audience. Their weekly events without fans in attendance had previously been excellent, with some truly amazing matches being held. However, the build towards their summer extravaganza had been full of teases, with the Black Wednesday WWE releases being heavily teased to either debut or return to IMPACT at the event. In total, four recently released WWE stars came to the IMPACT Zone for the show, while Rich Swann returned from injury, and The Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley) opened the pay-per-view in style with their outstanding performance against The Rascalz (Dez and Wentz). Alongside the arrival of Heath, Eric Young, and The Good Brothers (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson), former two-time IMPACT World Champion and Grand Champion, EC3 made his grand return to IMPACT Wrestling at the conclusion of the show in the form of a short vignette.
Since departing WWE, EC3 has been one of the more talked about departing stars, thanks in part to his Twitter buzz. ‘The Essential Character’ recently sat down with Last Word on Pro Wrestling for a brief chat talking all things IMPACT Wrestling, as well as what’s next for EC3.
Like many others, EC3’s time under the WWE banner came to an end on Wednesday, April 15th. When that initial post went live on WWE.com, alongside the many additions that came with it, a shockwave shot through the wrestling industry. EC3 was quick to say that “the only thing that was keeping me there was the fact there was a pandemic”, adding that he had an obligation to care for family members should the worst happen. But what exactly was EC3 doing at the exact moment he was informed of his release? “Honestly, I was doing yoga, and yoga’s pretty relaxing”, stated the former World Champion. All things considered, EC3 refrained from getting angry at the situation as a result.
Moving on to discuss the Twitter buzz that he’s created over the last few months, ‘The Essential Character’ was quick to state that the character isn’t even really a character as such. In fact, he actually made a comment on his Twitter with regards to the term ‘essential’ going around during the global pandemic, before he too was let go from his contract a mere two days later. Continuing on, “in this change, in this climate, it’s time to become the man I was always supposed to be”, relating to the fact that previously, EC3 has always been playing a character. The rich snob he played during his previous IMPACT run and ‘The Top One Percent’ character he played in WWE, particularly in NXT, immediately spring to mind here. According to the artist formerly known as Ethan Carter III, “this was an opportunity and a challenge to find out who I really am, not only as a professional, but as a person”. To round off this point, EC3 stated that he used the quarantine period to rebuild and rebrand himself before making his mark on professional wrestling.
Unlike the other names who showed up at the Slammiversary pay-per-view, EC3 didn’t actually appear in the IMPACT Zone itself. As previously mentioned, he instead cropped up at the culmination of the show once The Good Brothers had saved the new IMPACT World Champion, Eddie Edwards, from a beatdown at the hands of Ace Austin and Madman Fulton. Unfortunately, given the current climate, a live crowd was unable to be in attendance for his grand return to the promotion, however, social media users were quick to share their thoughts on his comeback. “It’s very easy to find comfort with social media and the Internet”, although EC3 was quick to add that he cared more about how he felt about his return as opposed to what everyone else had to say. “I felt I made the right decision at the right time”.
With regards to his previous run in IMPACT, EC3 had a handful of memorable moments that he’s quite fond of. From shaving Rockstar Spud bald in front of Spud’s own mother in Wembley Arena to defeating IMPACT Hall of Fame inductee Kurt Angle for his first World Championship to sharing the ring with The Hardy Boyz (Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy) in Ladder Match environments. However, don’t let this fool you. EC3’s main reason for returning to IMPACT Wrestling was to destroy his past self. “I have to confront my past because no matter what I did or what I accomplished, it took a large part out of me personally”. It’s a necessary step for EC3 to destroy his past in order to feel content with himself, regardless of his abundance of accomplishments over the years. “Since my name was synonymous with IMPACT at one point, it’s the first place I need to start”.
With that in mind, EC3 also added that his dream match would be a bout with his past self within his self-constructed narrative. Taking all of this into account, it couldn’t be clearer that EC3 is intent to remove any sign of his previous run within IMPACT Wrestling in his new run. In a direct quote from the man himself, his main goal is “freeing myself of the shackles of my past”. He’s in IMPACT for nobody but himself. He doesn’t care about anyone else, he doesn’t care about championships, he doesn’t care if his presence benefits the company as a whole. “If it has to through the TNA Championship, then so be it”. Since conducting this interview, EC3 has, of course, stated his intentions of going after Moose and his TNA World Heavyweight Championship, which comes after he laid out ‘Mr IMPACT Wrestling’ following his successful defence over Fallah Bahh on the post-Slammiversary edition of IMPACT. The main point, however, is that he’s in IMPACT Wrestling for no-one other than his personal feelings.
In today’s industry, there are obviously now a lot more options to become a huge star within wrestling other than WWE. The likes of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) are viable options, whereas it’s now also possible to make a living just on the independent scene. As for EC3 though, he was quick to say that ‘who said I’m done picking companies?’, insinuating that he could perhaps show up in a different promotion. Obviously, it’s unlikely he’ll be showing up again in WWE any time soon, however, the two aforementioned companies are additional options for EC3. NJPW have a good history of utilising gaijins to their full potential, whereas AEW, like IMPACT, have picked up a handful of the WWE releases this year, from Mr Brodie Lee to FTR (Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler) to Matt Cardona. “The whole purpose of controlling your own narrative is you control the story”, with Slammiversary being EC3’s first opportunity to write a new chapter. Is it possible we’ll see the narrative controlled in either of these promotions further down the line? “I have vast, strange plans, and I plan on very much differing from the norm”. It certainly seems like it could be the case.
2020 has seen IMPACT Wrestling bring back the Total Nonstop Action (TNA) era in a way, as they held a TNA special at the end of March, which was supposed to originally be a whole show over WrestleMania 36 weekend before the pandemic ruined those plans. A few weeks after that, Moose brought back the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at Rebellion in the absence of then-World Champion, Tessa Blanchard. As a result, many fans have been clamouring for a TNA vs. IMPACT show and/or invasion storyline. However, this is something that EC3 very much wants nothing to do. “I am breaking every attachment to my past, so I don’t want to do a nostalgia tour”. His key point here was that professional wrestling can’t move into the future if it continues relying on nostalgia all the time.
EC3 is yet to wrestle his first match since being released from WWE, although it’s worth noting that Moose is set to defend the TNA title against Trey Miguel of The Rascalz on night one of Emergence next Tuesday. Will ‘The Essential Character’ make his presence felt once again?
IMPACT Wrestling airs each Tuesday on AXS TV, and each Wednesday and Friday on The Fight Network and 5Star respectively for UK fans. Last Word on Pro Wrestling would like to thank EC3 for taking the time out to speak to us, and as always, a huge thanks to Simon Rothstein and Lauren Klair for their help in setting up and conducting the interview!
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. Be sure to follow IMPACT Wrestling via IMPACT Plus and Twitch to catch all of the IMPACT action.