Millions of people already hate Fandango.
That’s an impressive accomplishment for a heel who hasn’t even set foot inside a wrestling ring on mainstream WWE television.
Just imagine the reaction he’ll get when (if?) he finally decides to prance and twirl inside the ropes.
He hasn’t elicited hatred from the fans by eye-gouging or other heelish techniques. His “heat” with the fans is sparked by his petulant refusal to actually wrestle in front of them. Wrestling is beneath him, especially if the ring announcers can’t bother to properly pronounce his name as “Fahhhn-dahhhhn-gooooo.”
Fandango’s reluctance to debut on WWE television is an ironic twist, given how long the man who portrays him, Johnny Curtis, has languished in WWE’s developmental puppy mill, desperately trying to land a spot on the main roster.
Once Fandango finally does compete on Raw, it will be the culmination of a grueling seven-year struggle to ply his craft in the big leagues.
If his career in WWE’s developmental territories is any indication, Fandango will be worth the wait.
Johnny Curtis signed his first developmental deal with WWE in 2006, when he was a 24-year-old indy star trained by Killer Kowalski (the same legend who trained Triple-H and many other stars).
He was assigned to Deep South Wrestling in Georgia, a training ground for new talent (and a holding pen for faded WWE stars such as David “Gangrel” Heath, against whom Curtis wrestled his debut match).
When WWE nixed its deal with Deep South Wrestling, Curtis was shipped off to Tampa to continue his contract with Florida Championship wrestling.
He flourished there, as much as any aspiring superstar can, by twice co-holding the FCW Tag Team Championship. He also landed some dark matches on WWE shows, losing to the likes of Kung Fu Naki, Paul Birchill and Evan Bourne.
While many of his FCW peers — DH Smith, Tyson Kidd, Alex Riley, Trent Beretta, Brodus Clay and others — got called up to the main roster, Curtis always seemed passed over, year after year.
Things started to look up (sort of) for Curtis when he landed a spot on the third season of NXT, with R-Truth as his Superstar Mentor. He, like all the other contenders, were subjected to a bunch of silly contests and stunts, but he was finally getting some attention. He even made a few appearances on Smackdown, notably getting squashed by Mark Henry.
When Curtis won the fourth season of NXT, it appeared he might finally have earned his moment in the spotlight. Yet it still eluded him, and he performed on the fifth season of NXT, still essentially unknown to all but the most plugged-in wrestling fans.
Then, just a few months ago, Curtis was re-christened Fandango, and began appearing in vignettes on WWE’s flagship programs. Nearly seven years in WWE’s developmental system seemed to have paid off. Then the vignettes suddenly stopped, casting doubt on whether WWE would follow through with the flamboyant character.
After a period of uncertainty, the vignettes resumed and Fandango finally debuted — almost — on the March 1 Smackdown. By declining to perform that night, and by refusing again the following Monday on Raw, he generated some scorching heel heat.
It’s safe to assume that the real person behind the character (Curtis Jonathan Hussey) is dying to finally wrestle on Monday Night Raw. He has certainly earned the opportunity, given his long developmental tenure.
But by arrogantly refusing to perform — by milking the schtick a little longer — he is reminiscent of wrestling’s greatest, prissiest heels.
Watching him finally wrestle, and suffer the beatdown inevitably coming his way, should be well worth the wait.