EC3 has followed his own path to NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship

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Few people in the world of professional wrestling can say, at the end of their careers, that they did it their way.

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Ethan Carter III, better known as EC3, may be one of those exceptions.

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The Ohio native and current National Wrestling Alliance Worlds Heavyweight Champion is in the middle of a renaissance of sorts, having signed with Billy Corgan’s company in 2022 after having split much of his career between Total Nonstop Action and World Wrestling Entertainment.

True to form, EC3 doesn’t mince his words when asked about the state of the pro wrestling business, which is witnesses a TV ratings war unfold between rival WWE and upstart All Elite Wrestling.

“I think if the business was as healthy as we want to perceive it, then I don’t think it would be an arms race on a Tuesday night,” EC3 countered when it was suggested the business is healthier than ever. “I think there would be consistent and continuous growth in numbers in attendance and I don’t know if I necessarily see that.

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“Perhaps within our wrestling bubble in our wrestling community, we see a growth in competition, but I think there’s a gigantic portion of the fanbase that is missing out on what professional is and should be and we do not try to attract them because we’re trying to appease a more vocal minority.”

Never one to shy from speaking his mind, after leaving WWE during the COVID-19 pandemic, EC3 launched Control Your Narrative — an ideal that he said he came up with to offer people in the business like himself an opportunity or platform to reinvent themselves, or break into the business.

“Control Your Narrative is mine and mine alone,” he said. “It was my conception, my idea and my forte. People did jump on, and with people jumping on came people who wanted to profit off of it and turn it into something it wasn’t. Control Your Narrative was never a promotion. Control Your Narrative was an ideal and a mindset, and that goes on.”

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He named his wrestling school in Cleveland the cYn Co-Operative, which he said led to the misnomer that it is a wrestling promotion, which it isn’t.

“What (Control Your Narrative) was, was creating a platform for talent that is undiscovered or for talent that wants reinvention, they’ve got that platform to tell their story. Control Your Narrative means tell your story, so everything people think they know about Control Your Narrative was shrouded in lies and misconceptions,” he said. “It is an ideal, it is a mindset, and if you’re going to ask me if it’s still going on, I’m pretty much through that movement, that ideal and that mindset.”

EC3 added that he has helped Cleveland-based Exodus Pro Wrestling become the first NWA regional territory.

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“I’ve created a platform for undiscovered talent or talent seeking reinvention, yes, that goes on, and I’ve been successful, especially when I do it my way,” he said.

EC3’s way has always been staying true to himself and working hard to reinvent himself to remain relevant in pro wrestling, a business that can see a character rise or fall in a single evening.

“The OverMan is the best f—ing s–t I’ve ever done and will be and it will do down in history,” he quipped, referring to his latest moniker, before getting serious.

“Look at The Undertaker, the longevity he’s had,” EC3 remarked. “He was always The Undertaker, but there were different variations, different versions of him, but they all rely on each other to exist, because without one, there couldn’t be the other. That’s creativity to me.”

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Looking at talent, and younger talent especially, EC3 noted, sometimes they just need a little guidance to push them over the top.

“What I’m trying to tell young talent is that sometimes who you want to be and what will get you there are two different things,” he said.

“For example, I’m not Derek Bateman,” he said of one of his former characters. “I was never Derek Bateman. Derek Bateman was an idea and a way to stand out and be different in a certain scenario I was put in to hopefully someday become who I wanted to be, which is variations of EC3. Talent does rely on complacency and comfort of what they’re doing and I think another way to attract that fanbase I discussed earlier is by providing them with true creativity. True creativity isn’t necessarily giving people what they want.

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“Yeah, bring back the top One Percent, I’ve heard that a couple of times,” he said of one of his famous ring entrance songs. “Pure creativity isn’t giving people what they want, it’s giving people what they didn’t know they needed. And sometimes you miss, but when you hit, that’s how you become who you’re supposed to be.”

There was no better example, he said, than the late WWE megastar Wyndham Rotunda, a.k.a. Bray Wyatt.

“Wyndham, we were friends, we were close, I might get a little emotional talking about it, but he certainly lived by that motto,” EC3 said of his late friend. “The tortured mind is often the most creative. He’s probably the most creative person I know, the way he was able to create himself in different variations. The thing about him is that when it became successful, when he was doing him his way, unfortunately he was in the position where a lot of people need to put their hands on what is already working and kind of muck it up, so his true vision becomes lost.

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“This is part of the deal with playing the corporate wrestling game and you cash you the cheques and you have to understand that. But he truly reinvented himself countless times, and when he had free reign, sometimes it is way too far out there and it may turn people off, but you don’t know that unless you have the courage to try.”

There are few in the pro wrestling world who have reinvented themselves more than EC3. That work and creativity has kept him working in the business for nearly 25 years.

The NWA, owned by Smashing Pumpkins founder and lead singer Corgan, is the latest stop for EC3, where he stands as its champion, holding one of the most storied championships in wrestling history.

“I’m so focused on purposes and missions and goals that it really didn’t hit me until I held it,” EC3 admitted when asked about what the title means to him. “And then understanding A) the lineage, the legacy and the nostalgia of what I had, but then B) what I’ve really had to go through to get back to something like that.

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“We talked about Control Your Narrative, I was unjustly cancelled because of lies, my name was spread in the mud, it cost me greatly financially and people not wanting to work with me because of (f—ing) Internet lies. Having your name dragged through the mud when all you were trying to do was create something for others to become themselves.

“But you stay the course and it ends up working out and you’re proven right. Holding that title A) with what it means and B) with what it means to me; didn’t set in until I did, and now it’s motivation to keep going forward.”

EC3 speaks with great respect about Corgan, who recently announced NWA has secured television deals that should propel it to new heights.

“The fact that a man of that stature and calibre has the faith and the trust in me to A) put his championship on me and B) put me in the position to win it, because, you know, I won it because wrestling is real, but also to be part of a brand vision we both kind of share,” EC3 said. “We have that same vision that kind of met in different ways, with what I wanted to do with who I am, what he wants to do with the NWA and how when I started that maybe didn’t work out the way it was supposed to. It worked out perfectly because it put me in the position to be a part of this.”

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EC3 noted how Corgan himself even came to his Exodus Pro Wrestling show for a closer look at how he operates.

“He came to our show, our little independent wrestling Cleveland show to see how I run things,” EC3 noted. “It was a difficult endeavour considering I ran two days of tryouts to give people that opportunity to be in front of somebody that will pay them money to wrestling. Eighty-five percent had no right being there but each person got the equal amount of time because I do believe that everybody deserves an opportunity.

“It doesn’t mean you’re going to get what you want. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep working harder to get what you want. But to be put in a position where you’re told what you need to do, or where you lie in these peoples’ eyes, I think is very important for people moving forward.”

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The NWA was once the mightiest pro wrestling company on Earth, with wrestling companies bound to a territory, with most enjoying great success. That model disappeared as the Vince McMahon led WWE began to swallow up the territories, creating the global empire that the WWE currently enjoys. Corgan and EC3 are going back to the format that worked so well for so long.

“Re-establishing the territorial base just provides more opportunity,” EC3 said. “If we circle all the way back to the first question about the state of the industry, I think beyond what we see in cable wars and ratings wars, who are fighting over the same small pie, I think regional grassroots, guerrilla warfare is what can attract people to what we all love, that’s professional wrestling.”

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EC3 said he has much respect for Corgan.

“He does things his way,” he said. “He doesn’t have to answer to anybody so he doesn’t have to settle for deals he doesn’t feel are right. He’s been biding his time to make these moves. Patience and delayed gratification is a huge virtue when you’re trying to big, bold things.”

Patience and delayed gratification are also important when you’re a 20-plus year wrestling veteran who is once again reinventing himself.

“What’s really super cool now is that I have what’s perceived as power in wrestling, is my phone won’t stop ringing,” EC3 said. “It’s funny how that works, people who wouldn’t talk to me a year ago can’t stop finding my number all of a sudden.”

[email protected]

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Twitter.com/Jan_Murphy

NWA presents Samhain

What: National Wrestling Alliance presents Samhain, a Halloween-themed show it is touting as the most diabolically violent pay-per-view in its 75-year history.

Where: TempleLive Cleveland, 3615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, Ohio.

When: Oct. 28, 6 p.m.

Match card

NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship: EC3 vs Thom Latimer

NWA Women’s World’s Championship: Kenzie Paige vs Ruthie Jay

NWA Junior Heavyweight Championship: Colby Corino vs Joe Alonzo

NWA World Tag Team Championship Knights of the Round Table Tables: Blunt Force Trauma vs Mike Knox & Trevor Murdoch

NWA World Women’s Tag Team Championship: Pretty Empowered vs Natalia Markova & Taylor Rising

NWA National Heavyweight Championship: Silas Mason vs Chris Adonis

NWA United States Tag Team Championship: Daisy Kill & Talos vs JR Kratos & Odinson

Submission Match: Jax Dane vs Blake Troop

NWA Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s: Samantha Starr vs Missa Kate vs Tiffany Nieves vs Celeste

Loser Leaves NWA Match: Rush Freeman vs Brady Pierce

Ultimate Hardcore Tag Team War: Judias & Max The Impaler vs Sal The Pal & Gaagz They Gynii

The Headbangers vs The Southern 6: Tickets: NWATix.com

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