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31 Days of Wrestling (12/23/15): One Percenter Champion

In today's 31 Days of Wrestling entry, we return to TNA's burgeoning youth movement this year—to be specific, pretty much exactly where it began.

#23: Ethan Carter III vs. Kurt Angle for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, Impact Wrestling July 1, 2015

What do you do when all your senior main event talents are a) abandoning ship and/or b) injured? Why, the only logical choice for a wrestling promotion: start elevating your younger talent.

To be totally fair, Ethan Carter III (the former Derrick Bateman of old-format NXT fame) was being groomed for this moment the first time he showed up on TV as Dixie Carter's entitled rich-ass nephew. It was clear that someone in TNA saw something in him, because even though the FCW alumnus left the WWE a little half-baked, they decided that he start out as a prominent character on Impact Wrestling. (Perhaps it was that body.)

At the very least, however, TNA didn't hotshot him to this moment, something that people would expect them to do. In a surprising bit of creative wisdom, TNA allowed EC3 to grow as a heel character, slowly burning his way to the top. This match is the culmination of all that time spent finishing the cooking process that began in FCW and WWE, if at least in direction. (The match itself isn't super-special, as there's only so much drama you can pack in an under-20 minute sprint for a two-hour show.)

EC3 doesn't have that championship anymore as of this writing—TNA is still TNA and there is still space in their hearts and minds for such boneheaded decisions as having Matt Hardy win the title and immediately stripping him of it—but the TNA World Title Series still carries hope not only for EC3, but for the young guns of TNA as well. The hungry future that wants more shots at glory. All TNA has to do is cultivate this (properly, at that) and they should still remain afloat in 2016.

Photo from TNA


31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2015.

Read our previous entries:

#1: Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania
#2: Kazuchika Okada faces Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 9
#3: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Respect
#4: Fenix vs. Mil Muertes, Grave Consequences
#5: The Rise of Kevin Owens
#6: Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma, All Night Long
#7: Jake de Leon vs. Bombay Suarez for the PWR Championship, Wrevolution X
#8: Kurt Angle vs. Bobby Lashley for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship on Impact Wrestling
#9: Jay Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal in the Battle of the Belts, Best in the World
#10: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, Wrestle Kingdom 9
#11 Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE World Title at Royal Rumble
#12: Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship, NXT TakeOver: Rival
#13: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma, The New Beginning in Sendai
#14: Seth Rollins vs. John Cena, Champion vs. Champion, SummerSlam
#15: Vampiro vs. Pentagon, Jr., Cero Miedo
#16: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, G1 Climax 25 Finals
#17: Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship, Beast in the East
#18: Peter Versoza vs. Ralph Imabayashi Quarterfinal Match for the PHX Championship, PWR Live
#19: John Cena vs. Cesaro for the United States Championship, RAW July 6, 2015

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