I recently spoke to TNA World Heavyweight Champion Ethan Carter III about his big main event title match at Bound For Glory, as well as several other subjects. In part one of our interview, EC3 opens up about his negotiations with TNA, working on NXT with Daniel Bryan, and several other topics.
Stay tuned for part two later this week, when EC3 goes in depth about TNA Bound For Glory, working with Sting, Kurt Angle and Matt Hardy, finding out he'd win the TNA World title, and much more.
* * *
Who's idea was it to bring Tyrus in? He's fulfilling his potential in this role.
"His potential has yet to be seen, if you ask me. Especially when he can be in control of himself. I love it for him, I think it's great. It takes a huge load off my back, but when it's time for him to be his own man I think he's going to shock some people. I've known him for 7 years now. He has a very unique talent and he knows it. The opportunity to show himself never really came about. You saw glimpses of it in NXT season 4. Go back and watch his promo when he was eliminated in Cleveland, it was awesome. He has something. As far as him being there, it wasn't my idea, but I certainly didn't turn it down. It's been good."
One of my favorite pro wrestling segments this year was you two forcing Rockstar Spud to peel Tyrus' potatoes. Is something like that your idea or the writing team?
"That was conjured up by the creative team. The great thing about our team is that there's a lot of give and take with the segment. You can write it down, but to deliver it on paper, you need those three dynamic characters using their mannerisms to make it work. It lets the talent develop while the creative is on point. I like that. I like that s--t."
Another great TNA segment has been your Fireside Chats on Youtube.
"(laughs) A couple are alright. A little behind the scenes here, all of those were filmed at 9:30 in the morning consecutively, and I'm not going to confirm or deny if I had a hangover at the time. If people are finding them entertaining on the interwez, I'm down with it. They're fun to do because they just put a camera in my face and I start talking, and they edit it together into a concise package. I liked Crisis in Morocco, I'm proud of that one."
How did the negotiation process start with TNA?
"I have people I talked to, even throughout my tenure in WWE. I wasn't stupid, I knew I wasn't going anywhere. You keep your ducks in a row, but I came over based on Dave Lagana's recommendation and John Gaburick being in WWE and seeing something in me when I was over there. It's really a perfect storm of an opportunity, because if I had any kind of a real run on WWE TV, I wouldn't be able to transition into this character. Going under the radar completely sucked at the time, but it couldn't have worked out any better for me."
At what point did you know the release was coming? Because you said you knew you weren't going anywhere.
"I kind of knew when I wrestled Cesaro on Saturday Morning Slam. It was cool and we were having fun. I was in this weird spot where I was maybe getting this character that I was pitching, but I didn't know because there you never know. I did a suicide dive and dislocated my kneecap, and thought it was probably my last WWE match. There was a transition in the office. Old guys are leaving, new guys are coming in. The guys who signed you aren't going to be in power anymore. There's no one in your corner per se, because they want to make their own people and it's business, I get that. I just wish I didn't have to go through the last five months of developmental. I could have just walked out that day with my head held high."
I remember that match. Saturday Morning Slam was a unique show. You couldn't do moves above the shoulders or something like that.
"Yeah, but it was cool. You got to think out there and do creative stuff instead of resting on punch, kick, punch kick. It was difficult, but it was cool for talent so they're not doing the same old s--t."
Another interesting show you were on was NXT Season 4. Daniel Bryan wrote in his book that you all got in trouble for rigging one of the games.
"(laughs) I need to pick up his book. That was NXT before the internet godsend that everyone loves and adores so much. This was probably the most hated show of all time. It had nothing to do with the talent involved, but the way it was presented. You put that talent in the same NXT show today and I think it's still a damn good show. Everyone was good….well, ok, 90 percent of it was good.
"We did get into a little bit of trouble. The way I looked at it was that the show was based
around screwing with us as talent. We kind of changed the game by rigging our answers. That should have been commended and I should have been promoted immediately for being the ultimate wrestling snake. But alas, when you go against the machine, sometimes you get a slap on the wrist. The only thing that bothers me is the next week they deducted time from me doing the Out Think The Fink challenge, and I had Howard Finkel beat. You know? Now I'm pretty upset."
Another great segment was the double date with the Bellas. How much lenience are you given in something like that? We've all seen WWE writing, and it seems like you all went on your own a lot there.
"There was a lot of allowing us to put in our own words. That was some of the cool stuff we did in season 4 and even in Redemption with a lot of the weird storylines. There was freedom to see it yourself. There was creative helping you, but not telling you to do it verbatim. That's the way I feel is best for pro wrestling. We're not Shakespearian actors, we're extensions of ourselves. The double date was fun, a laugh riot. I had a blast doing it and got to throw a bag of change at Nikki, and now Brie and Daniel are happily married forever after. All thanks to me."
Were you and Daniel Bryan friends off the show? You two had really good on-screen chemistry.
"Yeah, we rode together and stuff. Like, yes. But, yeah. I don't know how to say it. I don't talk to him every day or anything, but yeah."
I thought him teaching you how to do a heel hook was a really good segment, too.
"That was his idea, too."
Oh, I would say so. I'd be surprised if any WWE writers know what a heel hook is.
"I still don't."
They don't allow it in most beginner jiu jitsu classes, they consider them too dangerous.
"I should use one in my bar fights."
Well, you live in Cleveland. You might get stabbed.
"Not anymore! I used to."
Did you see that part of the movie Trainwreck, where LeBron James asks his friend why he used to visit him in Miami, but won't in Cleveland anymore? Reminds me of that.
"I'll be honest, LeBron James and John Cena stole the show in that movie."
Speaking of Cleveland, I know you're a big Cleveland sports fan, what do you think of Johnny Manziel not getting the start after the week two performance?
"Eh, they made a commitment to McCown. He didn't do anything to lose the job. He's probably the safer play, and if they want to win now they should probably go with him. If the season goes off the rails they gotta turn to Manziel right away."
Something I noticed while preparing for the interview, in July, you teamed with DJ Z, Ray Rowe, Matt Cross and Samoa Joe. That's talent from WWE, ROH, Lucha Underground and TNA. Was that something you realized going in? You'd never see that in the 1990s.
"They built that whole match around the fact that they got five guys from those promotions on the same team. It was great. We took on Johnny Gargano, Josh Prohibition, Alex Daniels, Young Bucks. The match was awesome. I wish the show wasn't five hours before the match because it probably would have been one of the best matches ever. It was cool, unique, and a lot of us have ties to Cleveland."
I remember Josh Prohibition from the old Backyard Wrestling video games on Playstation 2.
"He's a principal now. He still piledrives people on the weekends every now and then."
Stay tuned for part two, where EC3 goes in depth about TNA Bound For Glory, working with Sting, Kurt Angle and Matt Hardy, finding out he'd win the TNA World title, and much more. Don't forget to check out Bound For Glory on Sunday, October 4. Wrestling Inc will be providing full, live coverage of the event. Also, be sure to follow Ethan Carter III on Twitter.