EC3 has had a tumultuous relationship with WWE. It all started back in 2009 when the wrestler was hired under the Florida Championship Wrestling brand. He would make his television debut as Derrick Bateman on the reality show version of NXT. The WWE rookie went through numerous gimmicks throughout his first stint in the company. He appeared on the fourth season of NXT, failed to win, was a scientist on the Smackdown roster before jobbing to several talents including Ryback. He would go back to NXT Redemption and after a long and painfully boring season, transitioned back to the developmental brand. Bateman was eventually released. Long story short, Vince McMahon and creative just didn’t see anything in the comedic character of Derrick Bateman. It’s actually rare that comedic characters have a long shelf life in WWE. One of the prime examples is Santino Marella, who was a massive hit with the audience, but he’s one of the few comedic characters to truly get over in the company. He wasn’t a jacked stud like Ryback nor was he the daredevil/highflying type like Jeff Hardy.
However, this release would actually do wonders for EC3’s career. The former WWE superstar made his transition over to TNA/Impact Wrestling. He dropped the goofy gimmick, bulked up, and debuted as the spoiled and arrogant nephew of Dixie Carter, EC3 or Ethan Carter III. EC3 was given a serious character in the main event scene out of the gate and displayed nice confidence and pose that came across well. He wasn’t exactly the best wrestler on the roster, but he was far from the worst. EC3 showed that he could hang with the big dogs if given a chance. He won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship twice and never felt out of place in the top spot as his mic skills was the best part of his act. There were also several feuds that showcased the strength of EC3’s wrestling ability, including his friend turned foe, Rockstar Spud. EC3 left the company in a better position than he came in as TNA/Impact Wrestling treated him like a star and EC3 took advantage of that moment greatly.
Understandably, the former TNA World Heavyweight Champion wanted to go back into the company prove himself, but EC3 would’ve been better off staying with TNA/Impact Wrestling. He came into the new NXT system with some nice fanfare; however, he failed to do anything of note in the developmental system. EC3 fought top names such as Velveteen Dream, Lars Sullivan, and Adam Cole, and despite carrying his end on the microphone, his wrestling ability notably stood out like a sore thumb. Still, since Vince cares more about character and promos then he still had a strong chance on the main roster. Plus, EC3 has a physique that Vince usually prefers on a talent. In one blunder, he was called up with a bunch of other NXT talents at once in December 2018, but he didn’t make an appearance until February 2019. Under a mute gimmick. Actually, as Dead Ambrose would call it, “a mute Chippendale dancer”. It led to a match against the former WWE Champion and EC3 won. The crazy thing is that this moment helped killed any sort of push that EC3 was going to have. The current AEW star has detailed on the Jericho podcast what ultimately derailed Ec3’s push. Ambrose aka Jon Moxley was on his way out of the company and fans saw this treatment as punishment.
EC3 was supposed to come out of this feud as a big babyface, but Ambrose was cheered crazily at house show. Vince was reportedly not happy about this and opted to stop pushing the NXT star. The fans pushed back against EC3 because they knew nothing about him or his character. EC3’s biggest strength was his mic skills and for some odd reason, he became some mute character with no personality. Either Vince overestimated Ec3’s appeal with the audience who knew about his TNA/Impact stint, or simply thought that a silent gimmick was best for the man who’s strength are his promos! EC3 was given a chance to shine before creative gave him a terrible gimmick and had him face a popular star who was on his way out. The fans weren’t given a reason to care about the former TNA World Champion and since the company stopped trying, he was essentially dead on arrival. EC3 was mostly delegated to backstage 24/7 segments before finally being released. EC3 failed in NXT because he wasn’t given much time to develop his character and more importantly, he just didn’t bring it when comes to the in-ring aspect. To be clear, the guy is a talented wrestler, but he’s not on the level of Adam Cole or Aleister Black. He wasn’t given any chance to make an impression throughout his main roster run. For some odd reason, Vince completely shut down on giving him any sort of push after the one win over Ambrose. At the end of the day, EC3 was a big fish that should’ve stayed in TNA/Impact Wrestling.
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