By Ryan Frye
The word impact is described as having a strong effect on someone or something. And for over a decade, making an impact has become a way of life for the athletes of IMPACT Wrestling. In this TNAsylum exclusive series, we’ll take a look at some of the most impactful moments from TNA’s past and present product, all in an attempt to preview what has yet to come.
In this tenth edition of INSTANT IMPACT, we take a look at the blockbuster main event of this past week's IMPACT Wrestling: Bell to Bell, when the undefeated Ethan Carter III challenged Kurt Angle for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
620 DAYS IN THE MAKING...
October 20, 2013 was the date of TNA's biggest show of the year, Bound for Glory, emanating live from San Diego, California.
On this night, Bobby Roode and Magnus respectively defeated legends in Kurt Angle and Sting. On this night, four new champions would be crowned. However, this night ultimately will not be remembered for those things. Instead, it will be remembered as the night of Ethan Carter III's TNA debut.
620 days later, Ethan Carter III still had an unblemished, undefeated record. The best TNA had to offer had fallen to his feet. And over this time, EC3 had become the face, the franchise of TNA. But on the night of his 620th day undefeated—July 1, 2015—EC3 was faced with his biggest challenge: wrestling Kurt Angle in a match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
Now, EC3 had beaten Angle previously, but Angle was hardly healthy at that time. Since then, the former Olympic Gold Medalist had healed from his injuries and won his astonishing fourteenth world championship.
Lashley, Eric Young, Austin Aries and Rockstar Spud read as his list of victims. The question being, however, would EC3 be added to his list? Or would Kurt Angle serve as the final stepping stone for the silver-spooned Carter on his way to the top of his aunt's company?
EC3's STREAK vs. KURT ANGLE'S CHAMPIONSHIP
In the weeks leading up to this match, EC3 and Kurt Angle chose each other's opponents: EC3 defeated former two-time world champion Lashley, albeit by nefarious means, while Kurt Angle submitted the decorated Matt Hardy.
After the two made their entrances, Jeremy Borash made the introductions. And following a brief commercial break, it was time for the main event for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. The IMPACT Zone was—as it rarely is these days—electric. A match originally set to occur at LockDown 2014, before Kurt Angle suffered an injury, enabling him from competing. But now, finally, the collision course these two had been on for nearly two years led to this night.
The two locked up and Angle quickly backed Carter into the corner. The nephew of TNA President Dixie Carter would entangle himself in the ropes for a rope break, and Angle obliged the referee's demands to back out of the corner. A second lockup led to a headlock and a takedown from EC3 on Angle, which Angle countered with leg scissors on EC3's head. EC3 leaped to his feet and back to square one we went.
EC3 reverted to another headlock, and Angle whipped him off the ropes. Rebounding, EC3 laid Angle to the canvas with a shoulder block. Next was a leap frog of Angle, and an arm drag from Angle. Angle wrenched the arm of Carter, maintaining the hold after the One Percenter had reached his feet. However, an elbow to the face broke the grasp of the former Olympian.
EC3 laid in punches and slaps to Angle's head and chest respectively. Angle seized control, though, with a belly-to-belly suplex, immediately followed by a pair of German Suplexes. Angle attempted a third, but Carter wisely latched onto the ropes. In retaliation, Angle dumped EC3 up and over the ropes onto the floor below.
With EC3's bodyguard Tyrus merely steps away, Angle tried the German he had failed to hit in the ring, but EC3 fought out with an elbow to the nose. Moments later, though, Angle finally nailed that third German suplex to take control. Angle rolled his opponent under the bottom rope and went for an unsuccessful cover. In response, Angle went back to his brigade of German Suplexes, two consecutive and five in total thus far.
To the ropes EC3 went once more, and followed with a clothesline to Angle. A one count off a pinfall led to EC3 pounding Angle in the face furiously before going back to the headlock. Angle fought out, and EC3 again grounded him with a side slam. The brash, arrogant Carter then went to the patented move of one of the legends he'd sent packing from TNA—The Stinger Splash. Continuing his momentum, EC3 hit a fireman's carry cutter into a cover: 1, 2, kickout.
EC3 was now learning that while Kurt Angle might be older, to put him away in a world title match, you'll practically have to kill him. Into the corner EC3 sent Angle, firing away with slaps until Angle reversed. Angle nailed EC3 with hard shots to the head, sending him into the opposite corner. It was Angle, however, that was sent shoulder-first into the steel post after EC3 had moved out of harm's way. To take advantage of the situation, EC3 hit a DDT onto the apron, sending both crashing to the floor.
On the other side a commercial break, EC3 was still in control. He had a full nelson applied on Angle, although it didn't appear fully synched in, allowing Angle to break the hold. Toe-to-toe the two stood, squaring off momentarily before EC3 raked the eyes of Angle. He sent him into the corner, and ate a boot the face for his efforts. Out of the corner, Angle nailed a clothesline.
Both men were down, with the referee beginning his count. They raised to their feet at six,and Angle wasted little time before hitting his trusty German suplexes as a look of sheer terror on EC3's face told the story. Three more, for a total of eight in the match. After all the punishment Angle had withstood, he seemed to be getting his second wind, his reservoir of energy, which was quite the testament to his conditioning as a man near the end of his nearly 20 year career.
EC3 leaped out of an Angle Slam, only to fall right into the grasp of Angle once again for three more German suplexes. After eleven German suplexes, the man with Carter blood pumping through his veins still had life. His world championship aspirations—though perhaps on life support—were still alive.
EC3 got to his feet and hit a neckbreaker on Angle to buy himself a needed breather. Angle fell into the corner, allowing EC3 to attempt his splash for a second time, but no one was home on this occassion. Then, Angle hit the Angle Slam! Cover: 1, 2, kickout!
After 620 days of being undefeated, EC3 would be damned if his streak was going to end when he was so close to his first world championship. Angle smelt blood in the water, and stayed on the attack, latching an Ankle Lock onto EC3. EC3 rolled through and sent Angle through the second and top rope, onto the floor.
Tyrus then stalked Angle, nailing him with a clothesline while refer4ee Brian Hebner's back was turned. EC3 looked on pleased, as he knew Tyrus' hefty salary was paying dividends now. Angle crawled back into the ring and EC3 looked for the One Percenter, but Angle reversed into the Ankle Lock. Luckily, EC3 rolled out for a second time. But unluckily, EC3 fell victim to four more German suplexes.
Tyrus climbed onto the apron, and Angle pushed EC3 into him to knock him off. Next, Angle hit the second Angle Slam of the match, surely finishing off Carter, right?
Wrong, he kicked out at two.
Angle went back to the Ankle Lock temporarily, before EC3 rolled through. However, Angle was able to hit yet another German suplex, sending EC3 into Brian Hebner in the process. With Hebner knocked out, Tyrus again made his presence felt by hitting a backbreaker of sorts. He then scurried from the ring as EC3 sat up with a giant smile. EC3 revived Hebner and taunted Angle. One Percenter! Cover: 1, 2, no!
Nobody had ever kicked out of the One Percenter before, but Kurt Angle had done just that, and EC3 was completely flabbergasted. His eyes were wide open, his mouth agape, he was talking to himself. He had no idea what to do next, showing the difference between him and the scruffy veteran Angle, who had stayed on the attack after numerous EC3 kickouts.
Carter instructed his 300-pound employee to grab a steel chair, which logically would cause a disqualification if used. Brian Hebner, though, wouldn't allow Tyrus to get it inside the ring. In fact, he ejected Tyrus from ringside. For the first time ever, EC3 looked defeated. He'd hit Kurt Angle with everything in his arsenal, he'd had Tyrus interfere in the match multiple times, yet this match was still ongoing.
EC3 attempted the One Percenter, but Angle reversed and positioned the challenger for an Alabama Slam-looking move, but EC3 hit a sunset flip. Angle, though, recovered and locked in the Ankle Lock for a fourth time. And this time, he grapevined the leg in the center of the ring.
16 German suplexes, two Angle slams, and the Ankle Lock multiple times, and now he had no escape. The ropes seemed like a football field away, and EC3's unblemished streak—along with his ankle—looked as if it was about to snapped.
Just fingertips away from the ropes, EC3 was finally able to roll out of the move. But how much damage had been done? The champion stalked his prey. He lifted him for the Angle Slam but EC3 slipped out and stacked Angle up for the cover: 1, 2, 3!
After 620 days with a perfect record, Ethan Carter III had finally acheived his ultimate destiny. As Josh Mathews said, the unconquerable remained unconquered. Ethan Carter III was, is, your new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
THE LASTING IMPACT
For the many, many things TNA has gotten wrong, they've gotten Ethan Carter III so right. Through nearly two years of excellent storytelling, they've built the new face of their company.
In reality, as he somewhat alludes to in the video above, Ethan Carter III wasn't actually born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and he didn't skyrocket to the top of the wrestling industy as quickly as it may appear. It took him thirteen years of hardships, of injuries, of a WWE run gone wrong to finally get to where he is today.
And now, just a week after the biggest victory of his career, it's been announced that EC3 will be defending his newly won championship three times on this Wednesday's IMPACT Wrestling. And in addition, his aunt Dixie returns after not being seen in the six-sided ring for nearly a year.
If the past 623 days and counting is any indication, though, the reign of Ethan Carter III might very well spell one thing for TNA... trouble.