Is the Fandango Character Remotely Capable of Success in WWE?
After months of sporadic video packages, we were told that Fandango would be debuting this past Friday on SmackDown.
Whether the debut was anticipated by any fans is unknown, but rather than compete in a match, Fandango refused to fight because Matt Striker didn't say his name with enough passion.
"Fan-dan-goooooo," with a heavy emphasis on the "A" is what he was looking for.
While delaying a debut is a common tactic by a heel to build heat with the crowd, we have to wonder if anyone cares about Fandango anymore.
For those of you who do not know, Johnny Curtis plays Fandango. Curtis won the fourth season of NXT but never ended up being pushed by WWE.
He was featured in some tongue-in-cheek video packages comparing his place on the roster to puns involving food, and then he was sent back to NXT without so much as a victory.
Curtis has been toiling away in WWE's various developmental territories for over six years, and in that time he has been on the cusp of being a member of the main roster several times.
Now, it looks like WWE is finally ready to pull the trigger on Curtis and give him something resembling a push as the ball-dancing heel known as Fandango.
The problem with this: Nobody cares anymore.
WWE waited too long and now Curtis is in a position that few Superstars have ever been able to crawl back from and find main event success.
One story similar to Curtis' is Dolph Ziggler's. He was sent back to developmental twice before finding a character and image that suited him.
Now, Ziggler is always in the main event storylines and has been known as WWE's best worker for quite some time.
Fandango is a different story, however. He is not just walking around telling everyone his name like Ziggler did. He is dancing. Dancing is fine by itself, but it tends to hurt a Superstar's career.
If there is one thing I have learned in my nearly three decades as a wrestling fan, it is this: Dancing characters do not get to the top of major wrestling promotions.
Just look at history and you will see I am right. Flash Funk, Alex Wright, Disco Inferno, everyone in Too Cool, Godfather—and more recently—Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks (stripping counts as dancing), 3MB (so does air-guitar), Khali, Brodus Clay, Tensai and Fandango all have or had dancing gimmicks.
While some of them are remembered fondly by fans for their entertainment value, not one of those names became a world champion in WWE or WCW after adopting the dancing part of their gimmick.
Shawn Michaels doesn't count as a dancer because his gimmick was that of a playboy. He just danced because it drew heat from the guys and looks from the ladies.
Even the Junkyard Dog, one of the most popular dancing babyfaces of his day, was held back from being WWE champion. Although, in fairness to JYD, times were different back then and race had a lot to do with a wrestler's success.
Fortunately for women, this is one of the few problems to affect male wrestlers that does not affect female wrestlers.
Many WWE Divas are noted dancers, some even being former pro cheerleaders. Layla actually got her start in the NBA before signing with WWE, and after the Divas Search, she became a dancer on ECW.
Many fans know Layla's love of dancing, as evidenced by a special video she made for fans a while back. (Fair warning, you may not want to click the link if you have a heart condition.)
Being saddled with the gimmick of any kind of dancer has been a virtual death sentence for almost anyone who has tried it out.
Maybe Fandango will be different. Maybe he will move past the gimmick and be better than anyone ever expected.
Or maybe he will find himself back on NXT, or worse.
Only the people behind the curtain making the decisions know what the future holds for Fandango, but if history is any indicator, he is going to want to ditch this gimmick the first chance he gets.
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