NXT Takeover: Philadelphia had numerous heartstopping moments throughout the evening, including the return – or debut depending how you look at it – of EC3.
EC3, who went by Derrick Bateman during this tenure in WWE and Ethan Carter III in TNA, made his return to the company for the first time in five years when he appeared in the audience at Takeover.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) January 28, 2018
Fans cheered as the former TNA World Heavyweight Champion was shown on camera. He wasn’t the only new talent to grace Takeover with his presence – Trevor “Ricochet” Mann and War Machine, who recently signed with WWE and began training at the WWE Performance Center, were in attendance as well. Candice LeRae, who also signed with WWE, was in the crowd and even got involved during the NXT Championship match between Andrade “Cien” Almas and Johnny Gargano.
As EC3’s face filled the big screen and television sets at home, Commentator Mauro Ranallo announced that EC3 signed with NXT. WWE confirmed EC3 had signed with NXT in a story on their website. Some fans speculated as to whether or not EC3 would once again go by the Bateman name, but it appears that is not the case.
After the event, EC3 spoke with ESPN about his return to WWE. “The moment was vindication. The moment was resolution,” he said during the interview. “I feel redeemed.”
EC3 is right in that his return to the WWE umbrella is a redemption for him. He had a four-year run in WWE where he spent pretty much all of it in developmental territories. He had spent a little bit of time in NXT when evolved from the FCW developmental territory before his release.
During the interview, EC3 said his one goal was to get back to WWE.
“With each day that has passed, I’ve had one goal in mind — and that was to be here, in this moment at this time for one purpose. Never once, without a shadow of a doubt, did I ever not believe in myself — believe that I would come back. I came back with vigor and determination. I came back on a mission.”
EC3 has built an impressive body of work over the last five years, which began as him being introduced as Dixie Carter’s spoiled nephew in TNA.
EC3 joins a stacked NXT roster that features a plethora of talent in the main event scene. Although some fans may fear he could get lost in the shuffle, the former TNA Champion has a big opportunity to make waves on the brand. Fans have watched TNA alumni Eric Young, Bobby Roode, Drew McIntyre and Samoa Joe shine in NXT’s main event scene.
He also returns to WWE a more polished product than he was when he left the company. The NXT is not getting Derrick Bateman with a new coat of paint. They are getting a new talent, which brings new possibilities.
— WWE (@WWE) January 28, 2018
Although it’s unlikely WWE will acknowledge him as Dixie Carter’s nephew, he could still play a snobby, spoiled rich heel who could feud with popular everyman characters like Johnny Gargano or Roderick Strong, or even against Aleister Black, who is one of the most over babyfaces in NXT.
If the goal is to get him over as a face, he could face off against heels Lars Sullivan or Adam Cole.
EC3’s road of redemption begins now and all signs point to it being a great one for him.