Shane Skwarek is a Technology Consultant in the Tri-State area and a long time, avid wrestling fan. He’s a mark for cocky heels and subtle wrestling references, and holds a special place in his heart for the Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart Iron Man Match at WrestleMania 12. You can follow Shane on Twitter at @suggafnshane.
Since his video vignettes began airing several months ago right up to his official debut at WrestleMania, the internet wrestling community has not been able to help themselves from trying to predict the likeliest path to the future for new wrestling sensation Fandango.
The issue I’ve had, which has inevitably led me to write this article, revolves not so much about the opinions surrounded the character, but around the basis of how those opinions are being drawn. Virtually everything I’ve read on the Fandango character is always comparing him to the WWE’s resident Funkasaurus, Brodus Clay.
There’s my issue. Brodus Clay is not a fair comparison.
Aside from the fact that the two men have an element of dance in their introductions, they share literally NO other similarities. Brodus’ entire act centers around his dancing routine. He dances out to the ring with two other dancers. He dances while he’s in the ring to build a crowd reaction. And he dances when he finishes his match. Brodus Clay is the epitome of a dancing gimmick.
Fandango, however, is not.
Fandango uses the ballroom dancer angle as more of a reflection of his social class. Ballroom dancing is stereotypically associated to wealthier and more elegant individuals. The WWE is using that stereotype with Fandango to give him a more snobby, or conceited, appeal. It’s very similar to how Triple H was introduced by using a curtsy or how Damien Sandow holds the microphone with his pinky extended as if he were sipping a $30 martini.
I think the intended element of dance, specifically ballroom dancing, is supposed to add to Fandango’s demeanor of telling the audience that he’s better than you are. Think about it … who do you typically see participating in that style of dance? It’s certainly not your inner city kids.
I think a more suitable comparison for Fandango would actually be a debuting Goldust blended with a blue-blooded Helmsley. While the cores of the gimmicks differ, their antics are very similar. When Fandango addresses his opponents, he does so with a condescending demeanor. However, it’s the way he executes his promos that really shines.
Remember when Fandango was supposed to wrestle Tensai? When Tensai inevitably couldn’t pronounce his name, he called upon Brodus’ Funkadactyl Naomi. He was blatantly aggressive with her, reciting that he wanted to hear from her “beautiful, sensual lips,” and also noted her “rhythm.” It’s a trend that continued with Natalya a week later and again just this past week on Smackdown with Lillian Garcia. Fandango took on a very alpha male persona in each of these segments, ala a debuting Hunter Heart Helmsley.
The comparison to Goldust comes into play with Fandango’s in-ring antics. The best example of what I’m referring to can be found in his match against Kofi Kingston on the April 8th episode of Monday Night Raw. You might remember it better by the infamous NJ crowd at the IZOD center.
With the way he perches he chest out, rubs his body up and down, and walks gingerly around the ring on his toes would leave the average viewer to question his sexual orientation. It’s a spitting image of the way Goldust introduced himself to the WWE Universe before he dove into the infatuation angle with Razor Ramon.
While Goldust certainly isn’t a huge success story (he never did capture any world titles), there was a point in time where he was an incredibly hot superstar and could have very well launched himself into the main event picture had it not been for some backstage politicking. And I think it goes without saying how the evolution of Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s character played out, no pun intended.
Will the act of Fandango eventually have to change to stay relevant? Of course. But the same can be said about just about any character in sports entertainment. Personally, I feel incredibly refreshed to see another CHARACTER in the WWE as opposed to yet another “firstname lastname” generic superstar that will inevitably sit at a jobber to mid-card talent level until their release.
Not sure what I’m referring to? See: David Otunga, Curt Hawkins, Alex Riley, Ezekiel Jackson, Michael McGillicutty, Justin Gabriel, Ted DiBiase, Yoshi Tatsu, or Mason Ryan, just to name a few.
So the next time you see Fandango hit the ring, do yourself a favor and forget about Brodus Clay for a minute. I promise you that you’ll see an incredibly well-rounded and well-designed character destined for a breakout year.
And if not, I’ll happily entertain your criticism on Twitter at @suggafnshane.