Ethan Carter III, known to many fans as EC3, has quickly become one of TNA’s top talents less than a year after debuting in the promotion. EC3 and his ‘best friend’ Rockstar Spud, along with his television aunt Dixie Carter, have recently been feuding with wrestlers formerly from ECW in an ongoing storyline.
TNA Impact Wrestling is now on Wednesdays on SpikeTV at 9PM, featuring stars like EC3, Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley, and MVP. In this exclusive interview, EC3 discusses TNA’s timeslot move, the status of the SpikeTV deal, Bully Ray’s rumored departure, working with Rockstar Spud, Dixie Carter going through a table, working with Jeff Jarrett, his thoughts on Vince Russo, and much more.
You came into TNA during a real transitional period with Eric Bischoff leaving and John Gaburick gaining control, who worked with you on your character as you were debuting and mentored you early on?
When I first came in John was the one who presented the character of Ethan Carter III and the idea behind it, so I was mostly working with him when I first started.
The Fall Out Boyesque theme, was that your idea, or was it just given to you by Serg and Dale Oliver?
(Laughs) That was by Serg and Dale, it was cool enough that I recognized the beat, but it wasn’t totally it. But I was like, yeah that song would work. When I saw my first vignette air, that song played. I was hoping it would be my theme song, and it turned out to be.
Yeah, I think it’s actually better than the Fall Out Boy one, takes out the crappy parts.
What kind of advice did Sting and Kurt Angle give you when you worked with them, what did you learn from them? Was it mainly character stuff, or in ring?
A lot of that was character stuff, and being able to present to them my ideas, with my character in the scenarios we were in. Hearing their input and feedback, and just working with them in that aspect helped a lot. Unfortunately Kurt was hurt at the times we worked, so we didn’t get to go out there and have the barn buster that I fully intended on having, but hopefully that day will come when he gets healthy.
You and Spud are one of my favorite acts to come along in awhile, especially in TNA, how has that friendship and chemistry developed in the last 9 months or so? Any funny Spud road stories? Because he’s hilarious on Twitter.
(Sarcastically) In real life I hate his guts so much I just want to punch him all the time. That’s a joke, I’m joking. It’s a great partnership, it’s really give and take. We critique each other’s work, and talk about ideas with each other. It’s weird because I didn’t know the guy at all, but he’s turned out to be not only a good friend, but a great colleague.
As far as funniest Spud road stories that I can tell you, I will tell you that he honestly just has a potty mouth, he is profane, and loud, and he will swear a lot. I almost feel like his father sometimes telling him not to swear in public, especially in the presence of little children, and church going old ladies, all these screams from wherever we are, whatever is bothering him, in a profane manner. I have to keep tabs on the kid.
Who are you usually hanging out with on the road besides Spud? I heard something about a Handsome Man Van or something on Spin Cycle.
(Laughs) Yeah the Handsome Man Van rides on. A lot of the time that is myself, the Bro Mans, DJ Z. My sweetest dearest best friend Robbie E of course, if you’ve heard about the Handsome Man Van, then you obviously know that Robbie E and I are the best friends in the whole wide world. Magnus, Spud, [also] any interchangeable figures can pop in the van [too], occasionally Sanada might be involved, or Eddie Edwards, it all varies really. What’s cool about TNA is it’s a really tight knit group, even if you’re not in the Handsome Man Van. Perhaps if you’re in the opposite of the Handsome Man Van, which is called the Real Man Van, I won’t tell you who is in that one, but it’s a family atmosphere and we all get along swimmingly.
Now to some of the SpikeTV stuff. Were you surprised that Spike announced the move to Wednesdays with less than a week’s notice, what was your reaction to that move?
First off, I thought Wednesday was a great night in the first place to have our shows. Especially considering a lot of the times we get hit by the ratings of big time NBA games on Thursdays, and the NFL is coming back. I wasn’t completely shocked to hear it, but I also was not informed about it happening until we all heard it. But I think it’s a great idea, I like it better, and I think with all of the decisions we’ve made the last couple of months, that have been sort of risky, they have all paid off pretty well, and I assume this one will too.
I think moving to Wednesdays is probably a good move, I just think it would have been nice to give viewers a few weeks notice. But hopefully the fans find it.
(Chuckles) They’ll find it eventually. But it’s also wrestling, so there’s no such thing as 2 weeks notice, it’s pretty much go go go, for the fans and people in the industry.
The Spike deal historically has been renewed about 6 months advance, as was the case in April 2012, when the deal was up in October. We’re a little over a month away from the deal expiring [Note: The contract was extended through December minutes after this interview ended], you’ve seen the reports, I don’t even need to tell you, from outlets like TMZ. Is anybody in the locker room at least a little bit nervous at all, and how is management communicating with the talent regarding a deal?
Well, as far as we know, negotiations are ongoing. We don’t necessarily know anything other than that. I know that as part of a locker room, everyone feels completely confident, because we know, we will be somewhere. We hope it’s with Spike, because it’s been a great relationship. I think the move to Wednesday signifies, something? We are not [involved] in the negotiations [ourselves], we know as much as everyone else. But we also are confident in where we’re going to be. As far as internet things, we don’t read a lot into that, because a lot of times it’s presented with misinformation and informally. Not a lot of people that report things on the internet are referencing bibliographies attached to their work, a lot of it speculation is taken as fact. But in hindsight, I’m confident, with the way we’ve been going in the past couple of months I don’t see anything but positive outcomes for us.
This news just broke a couple of days ago, reports came out that Bully Ray is reportedly going to leave TNA when his contract comes up. What have you learned from Bully, and what do you think of these reports of his possible departure from TNA?
As far as contracts coming up, again that’s nothing I’m privy to as far as information. Obviously, he put my head through a table, so I think he should have been gone a long time ago. But in reality, being with Bully Ray in the ring was one of the biggest learning experiences of my career. I really enjoyed presenting a very compelling story with a beginning, middle, and end, with peaks and valleys. He did a ton for me inside and outside of the ring. I’m hoping that he sticks around because if he is ever to leave TNA, I want it to be by my beaten and bloody hands, so we will see. But again, it is internet.
One internet thing is that he held a meeting at a house show last weekend and told you guys about his uncertain status. Is that BS, or did something like that happened?
There was a talk, it wasn’t that he’s leaving, it was more of: ‘If I don’t see you guys in a minute.’ But who is to say? I think it was more, [of a] precautionary [talk], who knows? Again, I don’t want to say anything about anybody’s business dealings, because I don’t have any privy information to it. Personally, of course I want him around. But it’s pro wrestling, it’s a machine, it’s geared as a machine, and we will go forward regardless.
Everybody talks about Bully being one of the locker room leaders of TNA obviously, who else would you say are some of the leaders in TNA, especially in the last 6 months?
I’d feel bad if I missed anyone, and I don’t want to miss anyone, but you can pretty much speculate who the locker room leaders are. Bobby Roode, Samoa Joe, Eric Young, guys like that, that have been tenured here. James Storm, Mr. Anderson, guys of that nature. People who have been in the industry for awhile, but have contributed here very successfully. I hope I didn’t miss anybody, but you get the idea. As far as the leadership, a lot of people can lead by example, or lead by speeches, or by sticking up for other people. So there’s varying levels of leadership, but as far as the locker room, it’s an excellent locker room top to bottom.
What have you thought of the recent EC3/ECW feud? Do you think it’s given your character more depth? I thought the segment where you were bleeding a few weeks ago was pretty good. Obviously you’ve got some people on the internet bitching and moaning: ‘Oh, ECW again!’ But what have you learned from these guys, who you haven’t really gotten to work with before?
Weird, people on the internet bitching. I don’t think those people will be satisfied ever. [But] I understand actually the apprehension maybe to feel like: ‘Oh, this again?’ But we were going to New York City for the first time, there is a nostalgia attached to that arena, to that city, and also the story that we’re telling. So I thought it was an excellent way to do it. It was a payoff for a group of guys who love the industry, battling a guy who hates it, so to speak. It’s an easy story to tell, and I thought I was the right one to tell it and be a part of it. I was kind of the catalyst, the lightening rod, as the antagonist, was excellent.
As a fan of wrestling of course, I was a fan of the ECW genre. Not so much hardcore wrestling, but the passion they brought to the product resonated with me, the kinds of wrestlers. It was awesome, I mean Dreamer, Team 3D, even an Al Snow appearance for nostalgia’s sake, was great. They’re still ingrained in the subconscience of the wrestling fans, and you could tell by being out there in New York City, out in the ring with them, and how the fans are reacting to me, and making me a star. It was awesome.
What are your memories of Jeff Jarrett’s role in TNA in late 2013, and did you get to work with him much during that time?
Jeff Jarrett was excellent. I say this a lot, I wish I had more time to pick his brain. He was great to me, he was really hands on with my character in it’s initial stages, putting our matches together and ideas and stuff like that. I wish I had more time with him, but again, this is the business. It’s unfortunate, but I had a great time with him. As a veteran who has been around wrestling so long, he’s someone you can learn so much from, I only scratched the surface of picking his brain.
Vince Russo has spoken very highly of you and Spud, as I’m sure you heard. Did you get to work with him at all when he was working as a consultant with TNA creative, or was that just done completely separate?
I never knew he was working as a consultant, so I can’t really answer that. But I do appreciate his kind words, as a guy who has seen a bunch of stars, especially guys like Austin and The Rock, rise [to the top]. To have him say anything kind about me is a compliment, but compliments are compliments, and that helps your confidence grow, but you just got to keep doing what you’re doing. I wish I had time to talk to him, because who knows what I could learn from him.
How was Dixie doing before and after the table bump at the tapings in June? Do you recall seeing her do any preparation for it, and how was she doing after?
Her preparation was: ‘Let’s do this.’ The aftermath was: ‘My back is broken.’ That’s about it, all the credit in the world to her for being a martyr for her cause, and putting her body on the line to tell a good story that people were truly invested in, and being kind of a catalyst to our new direction going forward, and making dynamite TV. She bit the bullet, when she jumped in the ring the ring, she flew too close [inaudible], but she did it, so [tons] of respect for her.
Now you’ve taped shows through the end of September, maybe 3 shows left before Bound For Glory. Do you have any idea of what your doing at Bound For Glory in Japan?
There’s a couple ideas being thrown around for Bound For Glory. As far as firm stories, I do not know that. I think we have the benefit too, with our television now, at least we’re doing Bound For Glory in Japan. It’s going to be a different kind of audience, that’s maybe not as invested story wise as they will be with the action in the ring. We have that benefit that we can just go out there and have 8 to 9 killer matches in front of a respectful Japanese crowd. It will be a very different presentation from what we’ve seen in the past, so that will be interesting. But as far as what I’m doing, who knows? I’ll probably win though, that’s about it. I’ll probably get a win.
If you went back to WWE or you went to Global Force Wrestling, or another promotion, this is hypothetical, but have you thought about how you might have to tweak the EC3 character? Especially since it’s tied so closely to Dixie Carter.
I don’t look at anything outside of TNA, because this my home, this is my family, this is exactly where I want to be. This is the place that gave me the opportunity, I plan on running this character to the top for a very long time. But as far as the future, who knows anything? I think what makes EC3 the character work so well, is that not only was I given the chance, but it’s an expansion of who I am, so tweaks could easily be made, because it’s me doing it.
My last question has to do with with the search for Willow segments, with you and Spud. How much of that was spontaneous, any stories from that?
I just talked about this [recently]. The person was like: ‘What do you do with something like this when it’s presented as kind of strange and bizarre?’ The way I look at it is I have 5 ad libbed segments on a national broadcast to make something memorable. Obviously it was written, but it was really a lot of putting these dynamic characters in this insane, bizarre scenario. A spoiled rich kid and goofy little sidekick, in sniper gear and a painted face. What can go wrong? Just about everything. That was a lot of fun to do. We have talent in creative, and it was fun.
Where was that filmed?
It was filmed at Willow’s house.
So it was at Jeff’s house?
Yeah, the Hardy property. We packed our bags, and hopped in the private jet, flew down to Cameron, North Carolina, and hunted for Willow in a barn.
Well thanks a lot Ethan, I’m rooting for TNA, even with all of the stuff out there, I’ve been watching for 10 or 11 years, so I’m hoping for the best for all of you guys.
Well you’re going to be watching for another 10 or 11 years, so no worries.
Check out our recent interviews with Jeff Hardy, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins in our Wrestling section.