Fandango's True Challenge in WWE

Bill AtkinsonAnalyst IApril 15, 2013

( photo)
( photo)

Fandango is the talk of WWE right now. All throughout the WWE Universe, people are humming or whistling his entrance theme, and trying to swing and sway just like he does on his way to the ring.

It’s amazing what scoring a victory over Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 29 can do to jump start a Superstar’s career.

Eventually, though, the initial buzz is going to die down. That is what Fandango’s true challenge in WWE will be. He has to make sure his career does not die down with that buzz.

WWE got it right by putting him up against Jericho, because there are few wrestlers better at putting young talent over than Y2J. But Jericho will be fading in and out of the WWE picture as he tours with his rock band and pursues his other entertainment interests. That leaves WWE with the task of keeping Fandango’s momentum going.

WWE learned a hard lesson with Brodus Clay about promoting a character whose gimmick is dancing. Clay was fun at first, but it became quickly obvious that he was nothing more than a one-trick pony.

The company cannot afford to go 0-for-2 on pushing a dancing Superstar.

Fandango’s opening theme certainly has the fans humming along. But remember this: Fans were singing and dancing along to Clay’s theme at first. Now they dance their way to the restrooms when his music hits.

One thing WWE loves to do is poke a finger in the eye of popular culture. The company did it to the Tea Party with the whole Jack Swagger/Zeb Colter angle. With Fandango, WWE has set its sights on the Dancing with the Stars crowd.

Jericho is a former Dancing with the Stars contestant. So who better to launch Fandango into a star-making feud with than someone who once was associated with the group Fandango is aping.

Now, Fandango is no Brodus Clay. Clay is a big man whose style is trying to bulldoze his opponents, Fandango has proven he can, in fact, wrestle.

If Fandango can keep the fans’ attention as much on what he does in the ring as he does with how he makes his way to the ring, that is a good start. He has a good portfolio of ring moves both on the mat and off the ropes, so he should be able to hang with anyone in WWE now.

He also has developed an arrogant personality to go along with his ring work. The campy way he says he wants everyone to pronounce his name—“Fahhhhn-Dahhhhn-Go-o-o-o”—is the perfect set up for the cocky persona he puts behind each of his moves.

Fandango now has to keep his star on the rise. That means staying relevant and not allowing your character to go stale. Fandango (and the WWE Creative Team) needs to start adding layers to his character.

Perhaps they can learn a lesson from CM Punk’s character. Just when you think you have seen everything from Punk, he brings up something new. There always are surprises around every corner with CM Punk.

WWE fans like to be kept guessing. They enjoy surprises, because surprises are entertaining.

Fandango has caught the eye of two WWE veterans who know a little something about recognizing young talent.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin tweeted Sunday that he expects to see Fandango win the Intercontinental Championship before the year is out. Jim Ross blogged that he would not be surprised to see a championship come Fandango’s way even earlier than that.

But Ross also makes a point to note that quick starts do not translate into long-term stardom. He blogged that Fandango’s character development over a period of time is “what writes his story:”

If Fandango can continue to grow, a key role at WM30 could be in his future and that’s generally considered the yard stick. As I wrote here weeks ago, bell to bell Fandango can ‘go’ but using Beautiful Bobby Eaton's Alabama Jam finisher might not be the best over the long haul.

Hopefully WWE has a plan in place that will not let the hottest commodity in the company turn into the company’s next comedy act. If so, expect to see WWE’s Fandango sell as many tickets as the entertainment website with which he shares a name—but not a pronunciation.


Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.