Sunday, January 04, 2015

EC3: From Squashes to Hardcore American Icon

What a year it was for Ethan Carter III. If you forget about Madame Dixie being viciously assaulted by Bully Ray, everything has gone right for young, supple Ethan. He really was given all of the tools to get himself over in TNA, from his association with Dixie to the way he was presented as the next big thing. So I thought I would look back over EC3 Year 1 and maybe we might find the blueprint for how to launch a new wrestler who can easily be the future of your company.

Modern Day Enhancement

Making new stars can always be a hard row to hoe. In the old days there was an abundance of enhancement talent that could move between territories and make a living out of putting over other wrestlers. Now, it has become much harder to elevate someone you see as the future of your company. TNA did, however, come up with what I thought was an elegant solution to build their newest acquisition from the bottom up.

By bringing in Dewey Barnes from the merchandise stand, TNA gave EC3 an opponent whom he could beat without damaging any of their established stars. The only downside was that Peter Avalon had to be sacrificed as Norv Fernum. Avalon, in my opinion, deserved a better run than he got in TNA and I thought he could have been an interesting addition to the X Division, but he only did what he was paid to do and got the ball rolling for EC3.

Masked Throwbacks As Stepping Stones

Having wrestlers who have played masked characters on your roster can help set up a rising star; TNA used this as the next step for EC3. Although Curry Man may not have had the best run in TNA, he certainly was a step up in competition for EC3. It also helped that Christopher Daniels was the man behind the mask of Curry Man, so that was a great way of pairing EC3 with a ring general without damaging either of their main characters and I think Ethan learned a lot from working with Daniels.

Next on the list was Shark Boy, who may not have risen to the top in his career but, again, was another upgrade from Norv and Dewey. [On a side note, I liked that TNA gave Tyrus his first match against Shark Boy; I think a wrestling show that acknowledges its history keeps them more consistent in the long run.] I was almost expecting Amazing Red to make a cameo under the Sangriento mask, but it was not to be and soon EC3 moved on to the next stage of his ascent.

The Hall Of Famers

After a few months of beating on the collection of jobbers, EC3 needed to start facing some tougher competition. His first target was Sting, whom EC3 pinned in a handicap match and then eventually beat in a singles match with two referees on his side. It was quite typical of the time in TNA where almost every match had a truckload of interference. I think EC3 would have received a much bigger boost if he won that match clean; however, it would have been a huge blow for Sting and with how strongly he was booked towards the end, I think TNA were expecting him to re-sign for another year. Regardless, it was the first major victory in the rise of EC3.

Kurt Angle was next in Ethan's crosshairs, and in my opinion those were the first set of competitive matches in Ethan's career. I'm not sure that if Angle didn't get injured, we would still have had the same story play out and EC3's undefeated streak would have remained intact. The injury was also used as part of the feud, allowing EC3 to get a submission victory over Kurt at one point. It's interesting to note that Kurt has not wrestled a match since this feud was cut short and depending on what the plans are for his final year in wrestling, we may have seen the last of  EC3 and Kurt Angle.

Finally, EC3 got involved in his Aunt Dixie's feud with Bully Ray and defeated the latest TNA Hall of Famer in a Texas Death Match at Slammiversary. Some might argue that Bully won the feud because he put Dixie through a table, but he still never got his victory over EC3 in a singles match, so who knows. We did learn, however, that Ethan can take a lot of punishment and we also began to see the evolution of a more violent EC3. I'm not convinced that his feud with Bully did anything for EC3, but it did give him more exposure, some good matches, and his first piece of character development that will set him up to carry less established opponents such as Rockstar Spud.

No doubt it was an extremely successful year for EC3, going from a newcomer to knocking off every member of the TNA Hall of Fame (well, except for Devon). He still has his undefeated streak intact, and I'm sure I'm not the only person looking forward to seeing what Year 2 has in store for this future main eventer. The sky's the limit for the crown jewel of the Carter family.

Penny For Your Thoughts

- With Bully Ray, Devon, Shark Boy and Rob Terry all being moved to the alumni section on TNA's website, do you want to see any of these guys return to the company in the future?

- What is your opinion on Lockdown being a TV special instead of a PPV?

- With all of the extra hours of programming on Destination America, do you think TNA could now be making more money out of their TV deal than they were with Spike TV?