WWE NXT: Why The Second Time Will Be The Charm For EC3


Why WWE NXT’s EC3, the former Derrick Bateman, will be a glowing success in his second run with the company.

In early 2007, the WWE inked a then 24 year-old talent named Michael Hutter to a developmental contract. The company had gotten a small taste of Hutter’s talent as he had a few cups of coffee with the WWE, performing on a episodes of Heat and decided to take a flyer on the then five-year veteran of the independent circuit.

Hutter was assigned to the WWE’s then developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling where he began to blossom as an emerging superstar. With tremendous athleticism, a sharp wit that came with charismatic mic work, an impressive physique, and boyish good looks, Hutter looked like he had a huge future ahead of him.

Then, in 2009, the company changed their developmental league from OVW to Florida Championship Wrestling out of Tampa and Hutter went along for the ride. A short time later he’d change his name to Derrick Bateman and for the next two years he’d struggle to find his footing.

credit: wwe.com

Outside of an ill-fated 84-day FCW Tag Team Championship run with Johnny Curtis (now Fandango), Bateman never seemed to be able find an angle that would make all of his superstar makeup come to life. Over the next three years, he’d go from gimmick to gimmick and turned heel and baby face back and forth so many times that no one could really keep track of who he was from week to week.

So by the time 2013 rolled around and Bateman had been with the company for six years and made virtually no strides, the WWE cut ties with him. Just as a point of reference, in the entire time that Bateman was with the company the first time around, he compiled a win/loss record of 48-103 (cagematch.net) Not exactly a ringing endorsement for future success.

However, where many other superstars might find the termination of a WWE contract a career killer, Bateman re-focused his efforts into not just refining his in-ring ability, but solidifying his character as well. And after just a few months on the indy circuit, he was signed to TNA and made almost an immediate impact (no pun intended).

Over the course of the next four and half years, Bateman, now repackaged as Ethan Carter III, would find the biggest success of his career, and where the WWE dropped the ball on a potential star, TNA did not. EC3 would go on to win two TNA World Championships as well as the Impact Grand Championship while defeating men like Sting, Kurt Angle, Austin Aries, and Matt Hardy among countless others.

Fans and industry experts began to see the brilliance of EC3. His promos while in TNA were some of the best in the entire industry at that time, and he flat-out carried the company from 2014-2017. It took Carter nearly 12 years to figure things out, but during his time in TNA he discovered a perfect blend of brash talker and in-ring performer.

However, like many other talented TNA superstars, the company could not find a way to retain Carter and he was released in January 0f 2018. Just two weeks later he’d be seen in attendance at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia and just days later his signing was confirmed by the WWE.

Being the largest and most recognizable wrestling organization in the country can sometimes give the WWE a chance to fix past mistakes, especially when it come to unrealized talent. Look no further than Drew McIntyre who originally was being touted as the next big thing in the company to only three years later being a part of one of the biggest jobber stables in the history of WWE.

Three years later, he returned to the WWE and was NXT Champion in just a few months. Re-signings in the WWE happen over and over again. Shelton Benjamin, Curtis Hawkins, and The Hardy Boyz are all current examples of that.

But in EC3, the WWE may just have a second chance at the biggest mistake they’d ever made as far as the handling of talent. And the seeds are already in place. Carter returned to NXT Wednesday as someone vying for the brand new NXT North American Championship. The atmosphere was electric when his music hit and all he needed was a few words with William Regal to re-establish his heat magnet status. He’s a natural heel that will fit very well back in the NXT fold.

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That, however, may just be the beginning for EC3. At 35 years old, he’s in a pro wrestler’s prime and if the WWE works quickly and smartly, they can elevate him up the ladder and into a prominent role on the main roster. That all starts with success in NXT.  And he’s off to a rousing start.