Ethan Carter III, better known as EC3, has been a breath of fresh air in the world of professional wrestling. You can catch him every Friday night at 9 PM (Now on Destination America!), but I caught him backstage at the most recent House of Hardcore event for a very enlightening and entertaining sit-down interview.

Alex Obert: What did it mean to you to debut at TNA’s biggest event of the year, Bound for Glory?

EC3: It was a great honor and more importantly, it was a great start for a brand new character. A character who is entitled through nepotism, he’s the nephew of the owner. For a guy to have his first match there when he really doesn’t deserve it, it added to the arc of the character. A lot of things are being handed to him.

Alex Obert: And since that time, you’ve been working with top wrestlers such as Kurt Angle and Sting. What does this mean to you as a fan and as a wrestler?

EC3: Looking at it from the perspective as a fan growing up watching wrestling, it’s surreal to be in the ring with guys I considered heroes, guys I watched every week. From being a little kid to a teenager, I would see a thing Kurt Angle did in a match one time and pause the TV. Then I’d look to my dad and say, “Someday I’m gonna do that.” And he’s like, “Okay.” Then someday I’m doing it and I’m in the ring with a guy that inspired me. As a fan, that’s incredible. As far as a talent or performer, you only get better being in the ring with people that are better than you. The only way to improve is to be in situations you’re not accustomed to and being taught through hands-on training. Being in the ring with Sting, Bully, Angle, even all the other veterans in TNA like Eric Young, Austin Aries, Matt Hardy, Abyss, you’re always learning with all those guys. You always learn with everything you do. Guys that have been around longer have learned from some of the best too. It’s the trickle-down effect. Trickle-Down Economics, Ronald Reagan style.

Alex Obert: What is it like wrestling at the venues that TNA goes to?

EC3: The Impact Zone in Orlando is our home for the next two months. We came back on Destination America at one of our favorite places, the Manhattan Center. New York fans, they’re vocal. That atmosphere wears off on the talent. You’re only as good as how the crowd interacts. You could have the greatest match in the world, but if no one cares, it’s not the greatest match. You could have the worst match in the world, but if the crowd is on the edge of their seat, it’s the greatest match. That crowd interaction is a big part of it. But at the same time, we can’t always be in New York because if you see your favorite movie ten times in a row, you don’t need to watch again. I think it’s cool to switch up our venues. Personally, I think all the fans in Orlando are jaded because all they do is see wrestling all the time. They’re harder to get, but it’s our job as performers to make sure they’re interacting. When we go over to the UK, we’re in the big arenas and they’re filled to capacity. That’s awesome. I have Rockstar Spud this week in a Hair vs Hair match at the Wembley Arena, the atmosphere for it was incredible. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve done in wrestling. I’m excited to see where things go from here.

Alex Obert: How does it feel to have more freedom with your character, as opposed to being tied down word for word to a script?

EC3: I think being locked into a verbatim script is hard for a wrestler because we’re not professional actors. If we were, we’d be getting paid not to get hurt. The thing about being a wrestler and a character is that it’s an extension of your personality. It’s hard for somebody to write who you are. It’s easier to be given a scenario and a situation where you can act in it. You get a script in both places, there’s a difference in that sense. In the sense of TNA, I’ve been able to take scripts and feel it out there. I’m not deviating from the important things, but I’ll put it in my own words. And I think that’s helped me greatly because I’m the best me that I can be and every talent is the best they can be. It’s also the talent’s responsibility to incorporate themselves into their character and not be apprehensive by saying that something sucks and they don’t want to do it. You have a segment on national television, take that as an opportunity to make it something special. Every time you have a chance, do something special.

Alex Obert: With the character that EC3 has grown into, which heels have you studied?

EC3: I’m a big fan of the antagonist. I’ve always been, whether it’s film, books, wrestling. Some of the best of all time like Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, Steve Austin as a heel. My favorite all-time antagonist character was only for a few months, Hollywood Rock. He was entertaining you to an extent where you wanted to see him get beat up, that’s the job of the bad guy. People want to pay money to see him get beat up. I think that’s kind of lost now to a lot of people. A lot of bad guys now want to get respect. I don’t see it that way. If I’m bad, I’m the worst. I’m scum.

Alex Obert: Do you notice fans on social media really embracing their hatred for EC3?

EC3: I prefer that. I prefer getting “You’re a jerk”, though not in those words because I get misspelled insults all the time. I’m a lot happier with receiving negative things pertaining to my character than I am with getting “This guy’s a great heel”. I’d rather get “You’re a piece of crap”. But we’re also in 2015, the shade’s pulled up a little bit. The fans respect the work I’m doing and that’s cool, but stop liking it because I’m bad.

Alex Obert: Though you are now aligned with Tyrus, it’s not the first time you’ve worked with him in a wrestling ring. What did you originally see in him?

EC3: The thing about Tyrus is that in the past, I saw a bruising monster who can eloquently speak when given the opportunity. He believes in himself a hundred percent, as he should. Seeing him in the past as a comedic variation of what he is was also cool, different flavors of ice cream, if you’re down with that, that’s cool. Seeing the man he really is, I think Tyrus is more of a destroyer. He’s got a lot of angst and a lot of apprehensions, using wrestling to let them out is a good place to do it.

Alex Obert: How’s he taking his new haircut?

EC3: I think he’s okay with haircut, as long as they didn’t touch the beard.

Alex Obert: How was your entrance theme proposed and set up?

EC3: We shot the original vignettes for my debut and all I saw was what we shot. I watched the first one and thought it was cool how they put together. At the end it said that “Ethan Carter Is Coming” and the song played and that was the very first time I heard the song. I was like, “Whatever that is, I hope that’s my theme song.” Then at Bound for Glory, I heard it and I’m like, “This is great!” The entrance song is so important for a first impression with the fans. It’s not generic guitar riff D, the song fit the character before I was even the character. So that helped a lot.

Alex Obert: Is it true that it’s based off of a Fall Out Boy song?

EC3: It sounds like one. I did not make the song. But Fall Out Boy rocks. I’m more of a Radioactive Man fan, but Fall Out Boy’s cool.

Alex Obert: What did you think of the memorable theme for NXT, Wild and Young?

EC3: We are wild and young. If I never hear that song again, I could die a happy man. I mean the song is good, but I just heard it way too much.

Alex Obert: Speaking of which, what music you listen to?

EC3: Here’s the way I do it, I use Spotify and I have various playlists depending on scenarios. You got your rock, you got your workout mix, maybe throw in some R&B, something that keeps you going. A lot of times, I kick back with the Space Mix. Space Mix, deep in thought and thinking about what’s next for my character or think about anything. Maybe keep it classical. Scores to films. I look at any form of entertainment and see how that can be incorporated into a character in wrestling. Some movies are made that might not be good, but the score behind it makes the moment. Example, Gladiator where Joaquin Phoenix screams “Am I not merciful?” When I listen to the song, I could see EC3 doing something of that nature.

Alex Obert: In the wrestling world, one of the biggest stories as of late is the Bill DeMott controversy. You have been outspoken about this in the past. What are your thoughts on all the stories that have come out?

EC3: It’s an unfortunate situation that happened. There’s varied opinions. As far as wrestling training, it should be difficult a hundred percent. You’re in a place where you’re supposed to represent the best. During my time in developmental, I had some of the best coaches in the world. I had Dr. Tom Prichard, Steve Keirn, Norman Smiley, we had Billy Kidman for a time, Ricky Steamboat, and all these guys push you. They push you to be better constantly. I would be dead dog tired from those practices, but it was never at the expense of my humility as a human being, at the expense of being made an example of, it was to get better. I was pushed to get better. I firmly believe that fully. As far as that scenario, what’s come out are things that did happen and it isn’t a place for that. Not in 2015. Not in wrestling in general. It’s not bettering you as a wrestler.

Alex Obert: Who have been your mentors in TNA that have helped shape you?

EC3: It’s a collaborative effort. There’s a lot of good people with the mindset to make the place better, the best it can be. I came in as a new guy and I kept my mouth shut and my ears open. They took to me quickly and made me feel at home. I’m very happy to be a TNA guy. Aside from the legends, I got the ring with guys like Bobby Roode, he’s a paragon of what TNA is all about and he’s been there his whole career, a consistent model of excellence. Eric Young, James Storm, Abyss, Matt Hardy, I watch how all these guys conduct themselves and learn. And the guys that aren’t there anymore, Joe’s a great guy, AJ was great, bless them and I hope to see them again soon.

Alex Obert: What you have to say to those who are joining you on the journey where TNA is coming back stronger than ever on Destination America?

EC3: If you stay the same, you’re gonna die. We’re at a point where we could stay as is or we can make a change. And if it appears as a step backwards, we’re going to take three or four forward. Destination America and Discovery have been excellent partners, they promote us endlessly and hook us up with so many different deals internationally. Internationally, we’re on fire. The way the TV landscape is shaping up, these channels are becoming more and more available. Seek it out. Our show has been consistently good. Gone are the days of things that insult people’s intelligence. Good, solid storytelling. Athletic wrestling. A cohesive product.

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