There has been a lot of heat on Fandango across the IWC since his promos began airing in the last few months. People weren't just skeptical; they were downright dismissive of any attempt to play off the Dancing With the Stars phenomenon in a manner that introduces and gets over a talented wrestler like Johnny Curtis.
Last night's episode of Raw demonstrated exactly why this experiment is well worth the time.
After several weeks, Fandango has refused to make his wrestling debut despite matches being booked. He's cut promos demanding his opponent properly pronounce his name before he enters the ring for the match. The first week he insulted Justin Roberts. The time he verbally sparred with 'Sweet T' Tensai. Now he's had a few back-and-forths with Khali.
He's established himself as condescending and self-absorbed. His arrogance leads him to believe his masculinity is too much for any Diva to resist as he's flirted with Naomi and Natalya. These are all classic heel tactics going back to the originator of the flamboyant heel: Gorgeous George.
I watched a bit of a Gorgeous George match recently and was astounded by his brilliance. He wore make-up and a frilly robe. He bleached his hair and carried himself in an effeminate manner. There is a definitive line between what is traditionally expected of a "man" and the way George carried himself, and that line-crossing brought about a visceral reaction from the crowd.
Gorgeous George is one of the greatest heels of all time, and it would be foolish to suggest Fandango is ever going to even dip his big toe in a pool of that stature.
However, it's worth describing George's technique in order to appreciate that Fandango's performance is right out of the oldest of traditions in professional wrestling. He's a good-looking, fit athlete surrounded by beautiful women, and he speaks down to the casual fan. The fact that he's a ballroom dancer is something many men might consider effeminate, yet he claims he's oozing with masculinity as he attempts to seduce beautiful women.
On Monday Night, in his promo on the stage and in the ring, his interactions with Khali and Natalya were top-notch. The crowd reaction was pitch-perfect, drawing the jeers that they seek with this character. Jumping right into a feud with Chris Jericho seems a bit much—quite aggressive for a guy that I didn't believe WWE would actually push—but it's possible that Y2J has taken a liking to Johnny Curtis and wants to make him a star.
I was skeptical at first, but I've watched wrestling long enough to know that it's impossible to predict where the next star is going to come from. Curtis is a very talented in-ring performer, and he fits best as a heel. During his winning NXT run, he played an underdog babyface that went stale quickly. This character feels much more authentic.
I won't make any bold predictions on his future or the future of the Fandango character, but the last few weeks have caught my attention. I'll be watching closely during his segments the next few weeks.