At this time of year, chatter between fans online and industry experts all becomes about who could return/debut in the Royal Rumble, and one of the biggest names thrown out this year is Ethan Carter III, the former Derrick Bateman in WWE. And where there is smoke, there is usually fire, as he just cancelled all his indie bookings for this weekend. While it would be a great moment for him to return/debut the EC3 character in the Rumble match, TakeOver: Philadelphia is where this needs to happen.
We all want the Royal Rumble to be unpredictable, with plenty of surprise entries from NXT to former WWE stars to top indie stars, but that can be done as a one time thing. EC3 is likely going to embark on a long-term run in WWE, and that will be done much better in NXT. If he was to debut in the Royal Rumble match, a lot of the wider audience wouldn’t remember him, or they likely wouldn’t have seen his work in TNA/Impact so it would fall flat. But with the hardcore fans in Philly for TakeOver, he will get the biggest reaction possible.
Whether it be just as a figure in the crowd, a way we’ve seen many introduced in NXT, or if he attacks someone like Adam Cole, EC3 NEEDS to show up at NXT TakeOver this Saturday night. With the NXT title picture storyline in doubt for New Orleans (we have Gargano, Almas, Ciampa, Cole, Black and Strong all featuring), a debuting Carter could give whoever misses out a big feud, or he could be catapulted right into the title picture himself. But should the nephew of Dixie Carter turn up alone? No.
The cruiserweight division is a mess right now after Enzo Amore was fired recently for his involvement in a sexual abuse case. Thus it would be understandable if the WWE were interested in Rockstar Spud in that spot, as he’s been waiting to debut for weeks now, but pairing him again with EC3 makes the most sense. In NXT, those two could have a story to truly sink their teeth into, whereas on the main roster, they’d likely be forgotten. Whether EC3 takes up the role Bobby Roode played in NXT, or he goes on a fantastic baby face run (he did both incredibly well in Impact), he needs to do it in NXT.
This doesn’t mean we are completely opposed to him going straight to the main roster (we’ve seen 50/50 success of that so far with Mike Bennett and AJ Styles), because he does have a familiar friend on SmackDown Live. When EC3 wrestled in WWE under the moniker Derrick Bateman, he found a friend in Daniel Bryan, and while he’s involved heavily in a story with Shane McMahon, we’d love to see some more Chicks and America.
No matter what happens, EC3 is a star in the wrestling business, and he’s just too good looking and talented to fail in the WWE. But it’s our personal opinion that he should be given the time in NXT to introduce himself to a wider audience, and that should start this Saturday at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia.