Ethan Carter III could be set for a sensational return to WWE at the Royal Rumble after ending his four-year spell with Impact Wrestling.
The 34-year-old, aka EC3, is a two-time world champion and remained one of Impact’s biggest success stories throughout a turbulent 2017.
But his acclaimed character was written out of storylines during a TV taping in Florida last week, amid reports his contract was set to expire.
The 6ft 2in superstar took part in Impact’s pot luck, Feast of Fired match and grabbed a briefcase, which later revealed he was ‘fired’.
It was previously reported that EC3 didn’t intend to re-sign with the promotion and had filed documents to trademark his name last month.
WWE officials are said to have been interested in bringing him back to the company in the past, but his future plans remain unclear.
PWInsider.com reported that EC3 was spotted at the WWE Performance Center in Florida, just days after finishing up with Impact.
And now Texan promotion Renegade Wrestling Revolution has announced that EC3 is unable to make its next event – on January 28.
That is of course the date of this year’s Royal Rumble event, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
On paper, EC3 certainly has the look, charisma, experience and in-ring ability to be a big smash in WWE second time around.
The former NXT standout, real name Michael Hutter, exited WWE in May 2013 after his mixed run as Derrick Bateman started to flounder.
He joined WWE’s developmental division in 2009 and was part of the fourth season of the old NXT format with Daniel Bryan as his mentor.
The Ohio native finished third in the contest and made sporadic appearances on SmackDown before joining the fifth NXT series, NXT Redemption.
He partnered with Maxine (Lucha Underground star Karlee Perez) and was involved in a love triangle with Johnny Curtis, now known as Fandango.
Former Divas Champion Kaitlyn was added to the storyline when she became Bateman’s new girlfriend but soon his WWE run started to peter out.
His last appearance for the sports entertainment giant was a loss to future New Day member and then NXT Champion Big E Langston in May 2013.
Hutter debuted with TNA Wrestling – since rebranded as Impact Wrestling – that August as EC3, the spoiled nephew of president Dixie Carter.
A long winning streak saw him emerge from the pack as a big talent with bags of personality, backing up his ever-improving ring work.
During the ‘unpinned, unsubmitted’ run he defeated icons Sting and Kurt Angle and world champions Bully Ray, Lashley and Matt Hardy.
He finally lost to current SmackDown LIVE superstar Mike Kanellis in April 2016, before a stint as Impact Grand Champion last year.
Impact Wrestling is now amending talent agreements to allow its wrestlers to use their existing personas after leaving the company.
That means EC3 could well re-debut in WWE using the same character which won over fans and rejuvenated his career.
If he does he could reunite with his old friend Rockstar Spud, who is believed to have signed with WWE, after also leaving Impact.
The British wrestler, from Birmingham, is yet to appear on WWE programming but is anticipated to become a part of 205 Live.
That would allow the duo to link up on Monday Night Raw, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on Monday, January 22.
Raw 25 takes place at the Barclays Center and Manhattan Center in New York City on Monday, January 22.
You can watch the event live on Sky Sports at 1am (on Tuesday, January 23).
Mirror Sport will also be covering the event live bringing you updates, analysis and reaction.
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