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Could Fandango be the next CM Punk?

The possibility was brought up on this week's Gorilla Position, but let's go deep and see if there's some truth to it.


It’s a simple question. Could Fandango be the next CM Punk? It’s also a question likely to make many fans tilt their heads sideways like a confused puppy. The possibility was brought up on this week’s edition of Gorilla Position. RealSport is proud to announce that we’ve officially partnered with Gorilla Position, the largest WWE podcast in the UK. A brief comment about Fandango brought up his recent appearance on Superstar Ink with Corey Graves.

While many fans may not realize it due to his ring attire, Fandango is actually heavily tattooed on his legs. This episode of Superstar Ink showed Fandango in a much more down to earth situation, looking a bit grungy with his beanie, shorts, and numerous tattoos. It was on that note that host James Delow made the groundbreaking statement that Fandango could be the next CM Punk. It was such a jarring comparison that the other guests on the show gave him a chance to retract the statement, but how much truth is there to it?

The ballroom dancer formerly known as Johnny Curtis

Before I delve into the more current stuff that Fandango has done, it’s important to remember what he’s capable of. He hasn’t always been the over the top ballroom dancer turned fashion enforcement character we know today. All the way back in 2010, he was a part of season four of NXT. Keep in mind that this was the old version of NXT, long before the underground developmental miracle we see on the WWE Network today. Instead, this was a weird game show hybrid of a developmental show and Tough Enough.

NXT “Rookies” were paired with current WWE superstars and put through weeks of challenges in order to eventually crown a winner. Perhaps the most memorable bit of NXT was the pairing of Daniel Bryan as a rookie with The Miz as his mentor. That first season also led to the formation of The Nexus, a group some may remember from Raw during that period. Johnny Curtis missed that first wave, but he made his mark on season four and this intro package shows a different side of the Deputy Dango we know today.

Of course, all WWE characters can be more down to earth than their television persona, but this specific bit is a good reminder of how he could connect at the time as Johnny Curtis. Talking about his upbringing and his connection to the US military, both himself and through a friend, Johnny Curtis feels a ton more relatable than the Fandango we were introduced to in late 2012. 

Despite the decision to repackage him, there were plenty of fun Johnny Curtis moments throughout NXT. Perhaps most enjoyable is this throwback to a storyline between Curtis, Derrick Bateman, and Maxine. There are also appearances in the video by Curt Hawkins, Tyler Reks, and Percy Watson. Of those in the video, only Reks has departed from the world of wrestling. Hawkins has recently returned to WWE, Bateman is now a star in Impact Wrestling as Ethan Carter III, Watson is now a commentator on NXT, and Maxine is currently in Lucha Underground as Catrina. 

As fun as the Johnny Curtis character was, it suffered at the time only by not standing out. Especially in 2012, characters needed to be especially different to stand out. That’s where the idea of Fandango as this pompous ballroom dancer came in. There are some indications that the character was the idea of Vince McMahon, but I wasn’t able to verify that. 

Regardless of who initially came up with the idea, it’s certainly the kind of thing Vince would have liked. Before he made his debut, Fandango’s arrival was hyped with several vignettes highlighting his dance moves and affection for saying his own name (pronounced FAHN-DAHN-GO). 

Fandango’s in-ring debut came at WrestleMania 29. You read that right. He made his in-ring debut on the main roster at WrestleMania, and he even defeated Chris Jericho. Even AJ Styles couldn’t defeat Chris Jericho at WrestleMania, but Fandango did it in his first match. It was a shocking moment, and it looked like the start of a memorable career. 

While he was still struggling to gain traction as a singles competitor, Fandango’s reach started to magnify when his catchy theme song paired with a goofy dance started to spread worldwide. The crowd started singing along with the song, and before long the dance itself went viral. Fandango’s theme music became so popular that it jumped from #175 to #11 on the UK charts for iTunes. Even the Houston Texans Cheerleaders uploaded a video of themselves “fandangoing.”

The fall to obscurity and rise of Breezango

Unfortunately for Fandango, his moment in the spotlight was short-lived. The fad of “fandangoing” eventually faded, and fans stopped being so engaged in his entrance. Like many characters that seem like a fun idea on the surface, it became clear to fans that there wasn’t anything beneath that surface. Once you attempted to dig a little deeper, the character of Fandango was shallow and uninteresting. He had some brief pursuits of the Intercontinental Championship, but never captured it. 

Once he fell out of the mix, Fandango struggled to stay relevant from late 2013 all the way to 2016. He had sporadic storylines and matches, but nothing that was memorable or helped him in the long run. In mid-2016, he teamed up with Tyler Breeze and the duo both managed to pull themselves out of obscurity. While a bit thrown together at first, Breezango was a match made in heaven once they got rolling. 

Both cranked up the dim-witted comedy aspect of their characters, and now The Fashion Files have become one of the most consistently enjoyable parts of SmackDown Live. As fun as these moments have been, the most Breezango could hope for is a run with the SmackDown Tag Team Titles. Unfortunately, that division is pretty well dominated by The Usos and The New Day at the moment. 

An eventual split would be easy for Tyler Breeze as he’d transition well back to his pompous male model gimmick, but where would that leave Fandango? He’s proven his chops with comedy, but it’s hard to take the dancer gimmick seriously. That’s where the head-spinning statement on Gorilla Position comes in, because Fandango has serious potential as a culturally relevant down to earth guy. 

Could Fandango be the next CM Punk? 

To be clear, the similarities between the two are limited. While CM Punk’s meteoric rise through the independent scene, key role in developing Ring of Honor, and eventual pipe bomb are unparalleled, Fandango has the chance to connect with fans in WWE in the same way that CM Punk did. For all his indie history and controversial moments, the core of what made CM Punk special to fans was his realism. 

Fans started to be drawn to him because of his in-ring skill or his indie past. His Straight Edge Society period was beloved by die hard fans, but it was when Punk got real that his connection became truly special. Fans saw someone they could relate to. It’s the same connection that made Daniel Bryan into a star. It’s the same connection that helped Steve Austin become the cornerstone of the Attitude Era. Fandango has the groundwork for that, and all he needs is a fresh start. 

Turning on Tyler Breeze could be that fresh start. While speculation has been running wild as Breezango struggles to crack their case, WWE could trigger yet another betrayal with Fandango turning on his partner. Whether it happens this Sunday at Battleground or some time further in the future, Fandango will eventually have to do something to connect as a singles competitor. On the latest edition of Superstar Ink with Corey Graves, we got an inside look at Fandango’s many tattoos and saw the superstar from a different perspective. 

After being shoehorned into his dancer gimmick, Fandango will eventually need a reboot. In his beanie with his ink on display, he starts to feel like more of a wrestler and less of a goofy character. He’s already got all of the in-ring skill, and he’s already proven his ability to turn a terrible gimmick into comedic gold. Now it’s time for Fandango to do what all the greats eventually did. It’s time for him to become himself. Fandango has to take his own personality and turn it up to 11, and that edition of Superstar Ink was the first glimpse we’ve gotten of that possibility. 

With a character reboot, the massive Everton FC fan and collector of skateboard decks could carry the same down to earth relevance that CM Punk once did. He doesn’t need a silly dance and corny music. He doesn’t need flashy pants and bad jokes. Just look at him. He’s a badass. Just let him be himself and turn up the volume. He’s got all the tools, he just needs his chance. With an effective reboot, Fandango could truly be the next CM Punk. 

Check out the latest Gorilla Position podcast here, follow them on Twitter @WWEGP, and let us know in the comments if you think Fandango could be the next CM Punk!

With a character reboot, the massive Everton FC fan and collector of skateboard decks could carry the same down to earth relevance that CM Punk once did. He doesn’t need a silly dance and corny music. He doesn’t need flashy pants and bad jokes. Just look at him. He’s a badass. Just let him be himself and turn up the volume. He’s got all the tools, he just needs his chance. With an effective reboot, Fandango could truly be the next CM Punk. 

Check out the latest Gorilla Position podcast here, follow them on Twitter @WWEGP, and let us know in the comments if you think Fandango could be the next CM Punk!

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Patches Chance

Yo, Patches Chance here. I'm the Content Editor for the WWE section here at RealSport. In my past, I majored in English Literature at the University of Houston. I'm a former referee with the Doomsday Wrestling promotion. I've been an avid fan for over fifteen years and have written about wrestling for over a decade. I'm also a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and have been a featured columnist for WhatTheBuc. Edge will always be my favorite, but Shinsuke Nakamura is the best thing in wrestling today.

Could Fandango be the next CM Punk?

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