WWE News: Former TNA Champion Makes NXT In-Ring Debut, Shocking Fans

Over the past several years, WWE has brought in a good bit of talent including several former TNA champions who have departed the Impact Wrestling company. One of those talents recently made his big in-ring "debut," as Ethan Carter III showed up at an NXT live event. "EC3" had yet to wrestle a match since making his return to the company, but managed to surprise fans in Florida last night.

On Friday, Sportskeeda reported that fans were shocked as Ethan Carter III was announced as the opponent for Kasius Ohno since EC3 wasn't even mentioned on the show's match card. Not only did he appear, he also picked up a debut win. Several fans posted photos on Twitter of Carter III making his debut, while another posted a video clip of his entrance at the recent NXT taping event. In the video, Carter's WWE theme music is heard while fans launch into an audible "E-C-3" chant as he walks to the ring.

While the event in Dade City, Florida, wasn't any sort of live NXT taping, it certainly gave fans there a good look at the returning superstar. Carter is also scheduled for a big match early next month, so this was merely a tune-up of sorts. That said, Kassius Ohno as a "tune-up" is certainly a good measuring stick for someone making their debut in the ring.

wwe star EC3 debuted at nxt live event
Fans at an NXT live event were surprised to see Ethan Carter III debut in a match at the show.

EC3 will join Adam Cole, Killian Dain, Velveteen Dream, Lars Sullivan, and Ricochet in a Ladder Match at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans early next month. The winner of that match will win an inaugural championship known as the NXT North American Championship. It seems fitting that a newer star on the NXT roster such as EC3 or Ricochet could win that. The fact that Carter III was put into the match without making any in-ring appearances on NXT shows could indicate WWE is saving something big for him.

The "new" NXT superstar is actually not new but simply rebranded. He was previously in WWE as Derrick Bateman during the days when NXT was used as a talent competition. Bateman went on to continue working with WWE under that name but never managed to get a gimmick or story that caught on with the fans.

He departed for the competitor, TNA Impact Wrestling, was branded there as "Ethan Carter III," won championships, and gained new popularity. Once his contract was up, he signed with WWE. Carter III was shown at the NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia event the weekend of the Royal Rumble 2018.

Now that he's back, it seems that popularity is already helping him start to win over WWE fans. Expect big things to come for Ethan Carter III as he continues his eventual journey from NXT to the WWE's main roster.