EC3 grabbed wrestling by the throat, and then he disappeared for various reasons.
Among them includes a series of concussions, which he finally opened up about after not confirming it for months. Another was WWE's inability, or refusal, to use him. Now, he wants to control his own narrative now that he's outside the company for the second time.
"7/18/2020 I become free," EC3 specified to Fightful. "The very first thing I do when I become free is I’m going to get into a fight. But, yeah. I’ve had a lot of oppression, a lot of angst, a lot of rage, a lot of creative ideas, a lot of word vomit. Threw it on social media. People seem to love it or hate it. I don’t care, ‘cause I do it for myself and yeah, we’re going to take that show on the road and in a COVID world, we’ll see what happens."
As far as where he will be getting into a fight at may surprise you. In the mean time, EC3 has produced a series of vignettes highlighting a change in personality. Well, we'd assume it's a change in personality, but we haven't seen him on WWE TV in nearly a year. While many would complain publicly, he says that's not his style.
"Let me lay it out for you—so, my great Wall of Truth lies over there where I do most of my venting, my ranting, my raving. I had their video airing on the Wall of Truth as I dissected it and I am dressed similarly to the masked figure in their video, and they’re drinking whiskey so I pour a glass of whiskey for myself. I sip to it, watch the video. Had to rehash the past. I’m so sick of the past, [it’s all just dead.] But, whatever, yeah, it’s all coming back, blah blah blah blah, and I just got a little fed up. So, I took a bottle of whiskey, I said, '"You know, I like to break shit now ‘cause I’m an angry dude,”] and I threw it against the wall. Bam. My new logo popped up and I stared at the camera like a dead eyed badass. I said, “You have been warned.” Then, what my video editor missed is I spit. So, was that really me IMPACT Wrestling was portraying or was that a shoddy imitation. Spit on the opportunity," EC3 said.
We didn't see EC3 on TV after September 2019. He never explicitly admitted that this was due to a concussion until our interview. He also admitted it was a tough experience, but he's cleared for contact.
"As physically cleared as I’ll ever be, I guess you could say. Yes. It’s actually a career marked by injuries. Herniated discs in my back. Four or five knee surgeries. Torn bicep. Tore my pec, just taped it back together. Lot of wear and tear from doing what we do, getting dropped on our heads and things. That was the hardest injury I’ve ever had to come back from," he stated.
The injury left EC3 out of action for months, but we learned he was actually cleared as far back as February for a return. It just didn't happen. After the battle of just preparing for a comeback, that was just one of many hurdles in the way.
"It was… Yeah, a physical challenge is one thing, but a physical challenge with rehabbing the injury, you see progress on a day-to-day basis. You improve, even if it’s very slowly, there’s always improvement. But, with that, a lot of it was mental. It’s hard to improve when it’s just not coming back together. So, at this juncture, I’ve tested myself sparring. How do I feel physically? I mean, I look fucking great. I look fantastic. But, I’m also functioning highly, physically, like I’m moving real well now. But, I’d say that hasn’t been tested because the only way to be test it is to actually do it, and I haven’t been free enough to do it until 7/18/2020. So, that’s the very first thing I’m going to do. I could get my block knocked right off and never wrestle again or I’m good to go," EC3 said.
The injury, the absence from TV, the April 2020 release, the general misuse. EC3 has plenty to use as motivation fuel, and few would doubt the justification in any of it. He doesn't see it like that, and says he's moved past that. This isn't uncharted territory.
"It would be very easy to put a percentage on it, but I think that’s the old mentality. So, a lot of what I’m preaching now is controlling your narrative, fighting for myself, and becoming free. When you harp on the past, when you look to the past, when you use the past. Granted, there was this one time WWE fired me and I was so livid. I’m going to make myself into the biggest possible star I possibly can, in the shortest amount of time, and they’re going to call me abd come back. So, in addition to the injury I was not a happy person. Very sad. Constantly. I did not like day-to-days. The injury had a big part of that. The mental aspect. It was not easy. But, okay, so I got a raw deal. Who hasn’t? I could’ve done all this with it, but who cares? It’s the past. Fuck the past. Fuck nostalgia. There’s enough of that shit. I could use that as motivation to go forward and make myself an even bigger star, which I will do, or I could forget it and I could finally do something for myself. Which I have yet to do, not only in my career, but in my life," EC3 said.
One could say EC3 "controlled his narrative" after his first WWE release. He quickly became a top star in TNA, during their last days on Spike TV. The success led to him leaving the company in 2018, quickly being courted by WWE, and heading right back to the company. It seems many would qualify that. The WWE run itself? That wouldn't qualify.
"No. Oh, God, no. It would’ve been great. I’m the most creative guy in the wrestling world, honestly. No, you’re in control of certain aspects, but I realized that going back you would have to sacrifice ingenuity, freedoms, for hopefully more money. But, no, I didn’t feel in control at all. It’s impossible to feel in control," he noted.
It wasn't just EC3. He didn't get a chance to break through, but Dean Ambrose did. When Ambrose left WWE and rechristened himself as Jon Moxley, the eventual AEW World Champion recalled his brief feud with EC3, and it being cut off at the legs. Moxley's post-WWE interview highlighted how even the most protected, top-level characters and performers within those walls face creative frustration. As mentioned, EC3 isn't particularly keen on the modern-day method of complaining on social media, so having someone else voice it for him was nice.
"I would say, because I have such a high amount of respect and admiration for him as a performer and a person, that it would boost morale," EC3 said of his reaction. "Honestly, there was a victory within it because no matter who heard that, at least people who believed in me and why it was going so bad, at least it made sense. Because I am not the person to voice complaints loudly on the internet. I’m not one of the many people on the roster who bitch on social media, misspelled Instagram posts. That’s cool, if you want to do it. I never would do that. Because A) I think it’s a terrible look, and then B) I think you’re an idiot because do better. At least, for what aspect I can say, some people who know something what’s up and that’s the kindest words from a fucking guy I would love to have a knock-down bloodbath with some day. Rolling around in Taipei glass and chainsaws and whatever, or having a good standard wrestling match. But, a compliment for him. But, it doesn’t matter. It didn’t change anything."
CM Punk was another name who made it to the peaks in WWE, and voiced his displeasure for his experiences, as well. With talent that reached those mountaintops speaking out, EC3 does have regrets, but didn't follow the same path.
"I would say those are two high level performers, at the highest level, and they weren’t handed anything. Those two guys earned it from the bottom to the top. But, I guess for the control your narrative aspect—I’m trying to see which way this word vomit is going to spew—I didn’t realize how miserable of a human being I was when I didn’t have control. I had no idea personally how bad I was inside having no outlet of creativity that I love, that I had no way to express this. I mean, there’s ways. I could have put videos on the internet, I’m still under contract. I could have knocked on office doors more to go nowhere with endless run-on about conversations, but I wasn’t at TV, so I couldn’t," he said.
That path is an option, because in April EC3 was among the WWE cuts blamed on the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. WWE released dozens of wrestlers and furloughed hundreds of staff. With his non-compete clause coming due this week, he looked back on the his second firing by WWE. Right down to realizing that he was being let go before he actually heard the words. It put things in perspective for the former TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
"I didn’t realize how bad I was mentally until I was mid-yoga session. I had a phone call from Drake Maverick. I ignored it, and then the second after I ignored that call, I got a call from the WWE office and I’m like, “Oh, he got fired and so am I.” It made sense. I mean, something had to give with COVID. I was like, “Oh, yeah. Of course. I’m very easy to expel, I’m making good money and I don’t do anything. I have the conversation and I’m fairly close with who had to fire me. He was pretty bent out of shape. He’s probably having the worst day ever. Because he’s got to chop all these heads and it’s fine. It’s okay. Go ahead. Thank you. Because, in theory, I probably would have been, if there wasn’t a quarantine and pandemic, I would have not been the guy to post on social media and ask for my release. I would have been straight as a man and go to [best]. 100%. But, then there’s a pandemic, so I’m like, my parents’ business is probably going to go belly up because of them shutting down the economy, so maybe I need to stick it out a little bit longer. I hung up. I remember the first time I got fired. I was just like lost. I was at the gym and there was a little lap pool. But, this time I’m like, I finished yoga, went right back to it. It’s not like a workout where you can be intense. My mind was just calm. I was like, “I feel pretty good.” Then I go back to my phone. Word’s gotten out. But, this stupid astrology app I have had a notification pop up and it was, “You’re becoming the person you were always supposed to be.” When I read that, I was like, “Okay. We’ll see.” At the same time, this whole thing, I pitched it once in NXT, and never got a response. Then I got called up with a concussion, whoops!"
We see the videos. They're all over his Facebook, they're all over his Twitter, they're even all over Fightful. They've led to people wondering what the hell he's doing. Where's he going? There have been similarities on IMPACT Wrestling programming. EC3 explained how he formulated the idea and how he hesitated to even pitch it because of things that happened on WWE programming. But....it's not an idea?
"So, this idea is not an idea. This is me. It’s true to my life. It’s changed a lot with COVID, ’cause it’s really brought it out to a different limelight, but this is something I’ve always wanted to do. I was like, “If I pitched it to them, it’s gonna suck and I’m going to lose my mind.” So, in my mind I watched the Fiend lose to Goldberg at Saudi, like that guy put so much work into being the most creative thing I’ve ever seen and then they just throw it away. But, I gotta do something. So, I pitch this beginning. The same thing that I released when I got fired, the first video, was the pitch with my entire verbalized pitch—which was insane if you actually read it—but I filmed that that day," he said.
That day? That must mean he got to work pretty quick. So EC3 went to yoga, ignored Drake Maverick's phone call, finished his yoga and started producing vignettes. That's not what happened. It was in the can. Even though he'd hesitated to pitch it to WWE, he still got the ball rolling before the firing even happened.
"Before I got fired I filmed it on my couch. Isn’t that cool? It [took] about two hours, probably. I filmed an earlier version that I pitched and then there was a RAW at the Performance Center. “Everyone loved it. It was great. So smart.” But, it’s ironic enough. So, I’m sitting on this sweet video and this sweet pitch. At first it wasn’t even about this character, it was 90 days of freedom to do what I want with a wrestling character, how I want it. Let’s see where it goes, because someday someone else is gonna get their hands on it. It’ll be manipulated, and it won’t be as true to my vision and which is okay. ‘Cause that’s what happens to some extent. It was also a 90 day exhibition in showing how broken WWE creative process is. If I and a buddy and a Sony handheld and some cool music can do more with a brick wall than you can do with every person…," EC3 was off to the races.
Where is he going? The IMPACT Wrestling speculation is there. The teasers have been running. AEW has that Jon Moxley fella, who has spoken very highly of EC3. ROH wouldn't hurt having a former World Champion full of personality. NWA had actively courted EC3 prior to signing with WWE. Believe us when we say, his words about what he's planning to do ring true.
"I truly want to fight for myself and whoever, wherever that opportunity to present itself is the best," he said, providing more detail than many even realize right now.
"I want to bend the rules, I want to break them. I don’t want anything standard. I don’t want to conform to anything. I want to be a completely different entity than anything that’s going on. I love what everyone does. Everyone’s great, everyone’s talented. I want to be different and a long term deal maybe is comforting knowing you have a paycheck coming every week. But, it’s not satisfactory to what I want to do. So, having said that, I can’t do what I intend to do getting engaged or married right now."
You can see our full interview with EC3 at the top of the page. Keep your eye on EC3's Facebook this weekend to see how he controls his narrative.