WWE is embarking on its next phase of talent recruitment. War Machine, Ricochet and Candice LeRae have all signed with the company and reported to the Performance Center in Orlando. Dubious by his absence is Ethan Carter III, who is reportedly also on his way to WWE as well.
A new day is perhaps dawning in Vince McMahon’s company.
With the talents that are now onboard, NXT has a new upper card roster. Hanson and Raymond Rowe of War Machine can automatically make an impact as a monster tag team; The Authors of Pain and SAnitY will surely be at the top of their list. Ricochet is a main event caliber performer that can immediately step in and shine, while LeRae will undoubtedly be thrust into title contention for the women’s division.
The face of NXT is definitely about to change. But where does that leave EC3?
Carter is the most curious signing here in terms of what WWE will choose to do with him. NXT seems like a good destination. Bobby Roode, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were all seasoned pros when they came to the yellow and black brand.
Each man could have come straight into the main roster of WWE and become an overnight sensation. But the company chose to take its time and allow all of them time to acclimate and then debut when their NXT runs were over.
But then there was AJ Styles.
AJ came in without the benefit of an NXT introduction. Fans already knew who he was, but they surely already knew who the other talents were as well. AJ could have been brought in on the ground floor and worked his way to the main stage as everyone else. Styles would perhaps not have objected to that move and been willing to fall in line like everyone else.
However that’s not what WWE had planned for him. Could the same be true of Carter?
Will EC3 make his WWE debut in the Royal Rumble on January 28? If the company intended on keeping his possible entry a secret, then it’s already failed. Once news of Carter’s departure from Impact Wrestling was announced, his supposed new employer was revealed almost instantaneously.
But then again, of course it was. Every time a big name finishes up with a company outside of WWE, fans immediately start talking about the two sides coming together. It’s only natural to assume that Carter would eventually land in WWE; the guy is too talented and has too much potential to stay outside of the company forever.
So when considering what WWE should do with him, the question becomes does NXT even need him?
Ricochet may not be the archetype main event star that Nakamura, Roode and Owens were. But that does not mean he won’t reach that point. How could such a dynamic performer come into in NXT, wow audiences with his natural athleticism as he surely will, then not become the top guy? Fans will demand he rises to the top and WWE will obviously agree with them.
So while he and the other new faces in NXT do their parts to rejuvenate the brand, Carter is left to do something different. But does that mean he should come in the way Styles did?
The easy answer is no. Carter is a world traveled star and carried the banner of Impact Wrestling until he had done all he could for the struggling promotion. However that does not mean he’s ready to come into WWE and be propelled to the top like AJ was.
Styles was ready, both physically and mentally. Going to WWE was the last big accomplishment on his list, as he had not only been the face of Impact Wrestling, but also a major star in New Japan. He’s been a top guy for years and he’s been hailed as arguably the best professional wrestler in the world. He didn’t need WWE; WWE needed him. Styles earned his opportunity, picked his spot and then took what he deserved. WWE allowed him to be himself and it’s been the perfect fit for both sides.
Is this EC3? Is he held in the same high regard that Styles was, or is? When fans look at Carter, do they see a ready-made WWE main event star? Is he the next phenom? Better yet, does WWE see him in that light?
If the answer is no, then Carter should come in on the proving ground of NXT. If that’s not in the cards, then he can still become part of WWE’s main roster but his possible evolution as a great main event talent must happen organically. Fans do not respond to guys that seem to come from nowhere, then be immediately elevated to the top. Carter needs time to get over.
But there’s no doubt that WWE needs him, as well as the other new faces in NXT. The company has taken great strides in terms of moving to the future but there’s always room for more of that growth. John Cena is no longer a full time Superstar. The Undertaker may or may not have worked his last match. Chris Jericho comes and goes as he wants. Randy Orton is still going strong but eventually he too will step aside.
New blood is needed more and more now. The New Era is doing for today’s WWE what The Attitude Era did for the old school WWF. Vince McMahon’s company keeps moving forward, which is precisely what it must do. A new day is definitely dawning in WWE and 2018 should be very interesting indeed.