Things are changing all the time with Impact Wrestling. It’s been a weird year (even for TNA); one that featured a name change, at least two regime changes, cutting jobs all over place, moving headquarters from Nashville to Toronto and recently naming the duo of Scott D’Amore and Don Callis as senior Vice Presidents.
Frankly, it’s hard to keep up with what Impact is doing week to week. To their credit, they are still alive after 15 years of being in business and they have more TV tapings in Orlando in January.
There are also plenty of roster moves happening all the time, partly in the interest of cutting costs, so veterans like James Storm are walking away, while former stars like Austin Aries probably aren’t going to return.
As 2018 approaches, there will be questions about who comes and who goes. In this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer wrote about two names that are likely going to leave Impact Wrestling when their contracts are up, and both are former TNA/Impact World Champions: Bobby Lashley and Ethan Carter III aka EC3. Meltzer added that the expectation is that “one or both will end up in WWE.”
Lashley and EC3 both started their careers in WWE (with wildly varying success), so it wouldn’t be a shock to see them return one day, especially since the two men have grown by leaps and bounds and thanks to their years in Impact, are established, longtime main event players.
Lashley signed with WWE in 2004 after wrestling in college, and he had a look that WWE loved. Lashley had a good run as U.S. Champion and the as the face of the ECW brand for a time, but never captured a world title in WWE proper. The biggest match of his career, of course, came when he was Donald Trump’s proxy against Vince McMahon’s stand-in Umaga in the “Battle of the Billionaires” match at WrestleMania 23. Lashley left WWE in 2008 and said on Jim Ross’ podcast last year he would be willing to go back to WWE. He’s been actively campaigning for a match against Brock Lesnar, either in pro wrestling or in MMA.
It’s not known when exactly Lashley’s Impact deal is up, but from WWE’s perspective he’s a fairly big name from the company from a decade ago, is still in great shape at 41 years of age, and is arguably better in the ring than he has ever been. No word on how this would affect his Bellator deal (he was 5-0 there), but his last Bellator fight was over a year ago, so it’s possible he has fulfilled his obligations there.
As for EC3, no specific date is known for when his contract with Impact is up either, but there was a report back in October noting that he would be a free agent in summer 2018.
EC3 worked for WWE from 2009 to 2013 under the name Derrick Bateman. He was one of the biggest names from the late seasons of the original NXT, first as a goofy protege of Daniel Bryan, and then as a fixture on the cult (and With Spandex) favorite show NXT Redemption. When it came time for him to be on the main roster, things never really got going for him (in part due to a knee injury) before he was released in May 2013. When he got to Impact as EC3, he was an instant sensation and became one of the highlights of the show each week … a tradition that continues to this day.
Either man would be a fine addition to the WWE roster, and in the case of EC3, it would allow him to be reunited with his forever-frenemy, Rockstar Spud.