Every week, Jason Jordan chips away at the wall of criticism around him. And on Monday's WWE Raw, he knocked out a whole mess of bricks as he had his best night as a solo act to date.
The detractors have been loud during Jordan's rise.
His soap-opera storyline with his long-lost father and Raw general manager Kurt Angle earned a lackluster response. He struggled with the sudden move into the spotlight, and fans let him hear it. The babyface earned more boos than several heels on the roster.
But WWE persisted with his push. And Monday night in Los Angeles, the company looked smart for being stubborn.
Jordan was on center stage in Raw's early moments and demonstrated a shift, one where his character work began to catch up with what he does in the ring and where he most looked like the star WWE has believed him to be.
WWE Universe @WWEUniverse
.@RealKurtAngle's son @JasonJordanJJ is ready to STEP UP to #TheBigDog @WWERomanReigns! #RAW https://t.co/ZU5aQIh3Yd2017-12-5 01:07:24
Angle's storyline son bickered with both his dad and intercontinental champ Roman Reigns in Monday's opening segment.
His whiny, entitled act clicked. He held his own verbally in the scene. He was the most natural and compelling that he's been to this point.
This time out, he wasn't an actor woodenly reciting lines, he had embodied this persona.
Despite Reigns badly wanting a showdown with rival Samoa Joe, JJ convinced the champ and the GM to book him in an Intercontinental Championship match. The challenger then proceeded to tell an excellent story between the ropes.
Jordan's chances of besting Reigns suddenly lessened as he reinjured his knee. He then had to go into survival mode, fighting off a submission.
His bad wheel hampered him throughout what turned out to be a high-quality contest.
This was far from Jordan's first standout match, but there was something different in the air inside the Staples Center. His performance against Reigns, coupled with his part in the opening dialogue, further signaled that he belongs on Raw's higher rungs.
Brian Campbell of CBSSports.com came away impressed. "Talk about a coming-out party for Jordan," he wrote. "He has been more of a supporting actor at best in recent weeks. This was the week Jordan became a leading man."
Monday indeed marked a key stage in Jordan's journey.
WWE dedicated a good 40 minutes to spotlighting Jordan, and he delivered. More than ever before, his production matched his potential. He seemed to have gotten a tight grasp on his sniveling, sneaky "fortunate son" character.
More and more, Jordan looks to be sliding toward heel status and growing comfortable as the process unfolds.
PWInsider's Mike Johnson tipped his hat to the grappler:
Mike Johnson @MikePWInsider
Anyone who knocks Jason Jordan from this point forward isn't actually watching Raw. Great stuff.2017-12-5 01:56:12
Jordan's big night was no fluke, either. This is the second strong match he's had against Reigns. He's looked good against John Cena, Finn Balor and others.
It's just felt as if Jordan was a step or two away from truly catching his stride as an overall performer. Stardom was a pair of boots that he hadn't broken in yet. But that's changing.
Jordan is well on his way to making his doubters look foolish.