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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Push Fandango to the Moon? Not So Fast, WWE...
By Mr. Tito
Apr 13, 2013 - 9:41:26 PM
"Duh duh, da-da da da-da, duh duh, da-da da da-da..." Or however you want to attempt to sound out Fandango's theme music. Thanks to the New Jersey crowd at the Izod Center in New Jersey (NOT New York City!!!), Fandango has been the topic of the post-Wrestlemania 29 discussion. Forget Ryback boldly challenging John Cena for the WWE Title or even Dolph Ziggler finally cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase to become World Heavyweight Champion... No, no, no... This is the 21th Century WWE where world titles do not matter. What matters is the flavor of the month and pushing him in hopes of them being the next Steve Austin, Rock, or John Cena. Fandango's theme song, thank you Jim Johnston once again, getting chanted by rowdy (or bored) New Jersey fans and the theme song actually charting on the United Kingdom's Apples iTunes chart certainly makes Fandango the flavor of the month.
And I'll be the first to admit... I find this Fandango gimmick to be ridiculous. The gimmick is very over-the-top and is attempting to play off the Dancing with the Stars ballroom dance craze. The whole scenario where everybody is botching Fandango's name and the WWE announcers repeatedly burying Fandango on commentary had me shaking my head. Pushing Fandango to defeat an officially recognized 6-time World Champion in Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania 29 appeared to be a big premature. If Chris Jericho were a full time wrestler, he could easily be a Main Eventer of either brand at this point in his career. Just listen to Jericho's pop at Royal Rumble 2013 when he returned... Hearing the New Jersey fans partying to Fandango's theme song and cheering for Fandango to insist for the ring announcer to say his name correctly after the Jericho beatdown gave me notice.
Maybe I'm wrong... This could work and I even Tweeted Fandango such after Monday Night RAW:
@titowrestling on 4/10/13 - @WWEFandango Chances are, I'll probably have to admit how wrong I was about you. If that New Jersey crowd starts a trend, I'm very wrong!
But then, as I daydreamed at work, I thought... Where have I seen this before?
And then it hit me. WWE pushed Zack Ryder hard after many months of internet marks begging the WWE to give him a shot. Ryder was giving fans free access to him as a wrestler through his YouTube and Twitter accounts and internet fans get wet whenever a wrestler acknowledges them online. And I should know, wrestlers attacked me publicly back in the day and I was right there bragging it up in the next day's column. Enough momentum was built online to create some cheers for the rare appearances of Zack Ryder on WWE programming. WWE mistook this attention by thousands of fans to represent the 4 million+ nationwide fanbase. Then, the ratings came in for Zack Ryder Quarter Hours for Monday Night RAW ratings. Suddenly, he became Kane's ****, was quickly dumped by Eve Torres, and he was selling an injury angle. Hasn't been the same since.
HOWEVER - With Zack Ryder, and this could relay to the ratings dip, you could blame him in addition to the rushed booking. Sorry to say this Zack Ryder fans, but Ryder dresses like a lot of you: like a wrestling mark. He comes out with the stupid headbands, the shades, the multi colored hair, and just doesn't look like a legitimate professional to be taken seriously. Instead, he looks like a teenage wrestling mark and an over-exaggerated one at that. Certainly, it could be argued that Zack Ryder is catered towards the PG Era fan... But the ratings weren't showing that. The overpushing of Ryder forced him into the spotlight too early and when the ratings came in, the WWE yanked him as if it wasn't WWE Creative's fault for pushing him prematurely.
But secondly - The matches weren't showing it for Ryder. Ryder wrestlers much like a late 1980's or early 1990's throwback where the wrestler was not only a gimmick, but so was the wrestling style. In-ring action has evolved significantly since the Hulkamania Era and his in-ring ability, which was relying too heavily on his signature moves, wasn't getting over. The in-ring product wasn't justifying the push. Thus, the ultimate failure of his push and his disappearance from any significant storylines. WWE's bad booking combined with Ryder's inability to seize the moment now has him as a damaged goods midcarder in need of a change.
With Fandango, the WWE must learn from lessons of the past, and in the case of Zack Ryder, the recent past. Just because a New Jersey (New York) fanbase, which is historically rowdy anyway, has some fun with 1 wrestler at a live show does NOT mean that MILLIONS of WWE fans watching the show also agree. For all the WWE knows, the fan at home could think that Fandango is ridiculous and that the WWE is overpushing him. Don't believe me? The Fandango vs. Kofi Kingston match LOST 207,000 viewers, according to the RAW Quarter Hour breakdowns. Let me repeat that again, wrestling fans:
The Fandango vs. Kofi Kingston Quarter Hour RAW segment LOST 207,000 viewers.
What happens in a live audience doesn't necessarily translate to the millions of wrestling fans watching at home. And what happens with one live audience sometimes won't continue with the next. Reportedly, while the humming of the theme song did happen at the Smackdown tapings in Boston, but it wasn't overwhelming like it was becoming in New Jersey. We'll see how Fandango does in South Carolina this Monday. Southern fans tend to take the in-ring action more seriously rather than the theatrics of the wrestler, as seen by their dislike for the WWF Hulkamania era of the late 1980's that tried to take over their favorite territories. Chances are, they'll be less receptive of Fandango than the hot New Jersey crowd and the warm Boston Crowd. However, the WWE might act on the New Jersey crowd's delight of Fandango and overpush him in a segment.
But how could the WWE overpush Fandango more than they did at Wrestlemania 29 with not just a match against Chris Jericho, but having him DEFEAT Jericho!
And don't give me the bullshit of him being on Florida Championship Wrestling or NXT shows. I don't watch those, the majority of pro wrestling fans don't watch those. I'm over 30 years old with a job, kids to raise, and a home to keep up on. Where is the time to follow developmental territories above the 5 freakin' hours of RAW and Smackdown along with a 3 hour Pay Per View if I choose to watch it? I could care less what he did in FCW or NXT and it shouldn't count towards his WWE career. And he was Johnny Curtis then, not Fandango. For all we know, it's the Jim Johnston WWE theme that's getting over...
WWE should express serious caution not to let a rowdy New Jersey crowd dictate their booking. Thousands don't represent Millions. Just as internet wrestling fans don't represent the larger WWE fanbase. Zack Ryder is damaged goods because the WWE overpushed him based on the perception he was over. Internet and social media do NOT dictate the larger WWE fanbase!!!
And Zack Ryder still has potential. I was probably a bit harsh above but it's very obvious to me what went wrong. WWE overpushed him based on an internet reaction, but his image and in-ring ability weren't delivering. If Zack Ryder flipped his character and turned HEEL, there is potential to turn his career around. Many wrestlers have overcome bad gimmicks or in-ring styles before him. Go watch Triple H in WCW if you need to validate that - Terry Ryzing, LOL! Mick Foley was stuck with the Cactus Jack gimmick that wasn't going anywhere until WWE repackaged him in 1996. The Rock was forced to wrestle a template babyface style as Rocky Maivia during 1996-1997 before changing everything by late 1997. John Cena was a vanilla babyface until he randomly dressed up like a rapper on an episode of RAW. Amazing what a character and in-ring style change can do.
Fandango, by all accounts, does have in-ring ability. His match against Jericho was decent but you could see the butterflies were there for his first Wrestlemania match. He has a good look, good height at 6'3", and doesn't wear headbands like a 14 year old wrestling mark. He has much more going for him than Ryder... But he still beat a big wrestler early in Chris Jericho. The bar has been set too high for future opponents and match results. He should have throttled Kofi Kingston at Wrestlemania instead and Chris Jericho should have been in the Shield match instead of Big Show. But, I guess with Jericho being a part timer, the WWE will use him like a part timer.
WWE should tread carefully on Fandango and not over-react to the New Jersey fans. In addition to Zack Ryder, the WWE has an extensive Video Library of many promotions' mistakes on pushing wrestlers. Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.
"Duh duh, da-da da da-da, duh duh, da-da da da-da..."
So just chill til the next episode...
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