Six weeks ago, I wondered if Fandangoing would still be a thing before I could even post a column about it. In reviewing his Wrestlemania match against Chris Jericho, I pronounced Fandango’s debut worth monitoring – not because he wrestled well, but because of everyone’s commitment to making it work.
Could anyone else be as Fandango as Johnny Curtis? He sashays into every room he enters. He flirts with women, men, sometimes even with himself. He corrects his lover when she screams his name. He gave Bret Hart’s greatest match a 3.5. He beat up Chris Jericho with a piece of dance floor. Johnny Curtis exudes Fandangosity.
Chris Jericho, on the other hand, exudes a bewildering level of Try. He’s become his own worst nightmare, a shameless panderer who’s two armbars short of an asshat. It pains me to admit it. But he is not completely devoid of admirable qualities: Jericho can still go, if only he wouldn’t Try so hard. He can hang with the likes of Ziggler and Cesaro in the ring, and he is working his glittery little boots off to elevate Fandango.
The triad of commitment is completed by the company itself. After Fandango’s victorious debut, the WWE has shown shocking consistency in marketing their ballroom-dancing brute. He has been on TV at least once a week. He gets a grand entrance and (the less-talented but more Diva-esque) Summer Rae on his arm. He has been undefeated these 6 weeks, with the commentators heralding his accomplishments.
I wouldn’t categorize Fandango, or his feud with Jericho, as compelling. But I am willing to see how this plays out, and I want them to succeed.
Though their match has no stipulation, Jericho and Fandango are a good choice to start the Extreme Rules PPV. They have flashy entrances, which helps to warm up the crowd. But the commentators are killing me with their hyperbole - I even double-checked that word to make sure it was the right one: it means excess. JBL calls their first match “the biggest upset in Wrestlemania history” and the “greatest debut of any superstar ever”. Lawler says that Fandango is “the most underrated Superstar in the WWE”. Wrong, wrong, and shut-up, Jerry.
I Can’t Hear You, Brother
- Tie-up into the ropes; shoving ends with Jericho down on the mat.
- Jericho comes back with a great drop kick and elbow; Fandango takes a breather outside the ring to a chorus of boos.
- Jericho chases him back into the ring and connects with another elbow to the crowd’s delight.
- Jericho kicks Fandango in the chest while he’s down, then baseball slides to push him onto the floor. Jericho then cups his ear, Hogan-style, to listen for the adulation.
- Jericho does a flying cross body off the top rope onto Fandango on the floor. Fandango oversells the press with an almost-comical topsy-turvy in his goofy pants. Jericho poses atop the Spanish Announce Table. The crowd happily starts a Y2J chant. Does this work *just* enough, because of nostalgia, and also because people simply want to be happy and cheer?
There Are A Few Undisputed Things Here
- Jericho throws Fandango back into the ring, but Fandango prevents Jericho’s entrance with some knees and stomps.
- Jericho retaliates and Fandango is out of the ring again; cheers for Jericho. JBL reminds us of Jericho’s lineage as the first Undisputed Champion, and Fandango’s win at Wrestlemania, as Jericho eats a boot in the corner. 2 count.
- Fandango “ties up” Jericho in the ropes, and delivers a kick to Jericho’s head from the ring apron. The tie-up was so contrived, but the kick was executed fine. 2 count.
- Fandango puts Jericho in a head lock, and the fans encourage Jericho to his feet; he elbows his way out. This portion of the match seems like an awkward amateur dance. The pacing is off, and Jericho horrifically oversells a knee to the gut off the ropes (it looked like a mid-air tumble before Fandango could make any connection). Fandango dance-celebrates, which I normally find entertaining. I am watching the show with my sister and brother-in-law, and they are laughing at how fake it looks. I cannot disagree.
- Fandango performs an over-the-top rope leg drop, which is great, for a 2 count.
- Another head lock; Jericho gets to his feet and drops Fandango on his back. Michael Cole notes that Jericho lasted 48 minutes in this year’s Royal Rumble, and JBL chimes in about Jericho already having a Hall of Fame career. “Can you imagine if he loses to Fandango again?” Fandango is not showing me any reason why he should beat Chris Jericho, even in a fake fight.
- They are back to jockeying around the ring with some geriatric shoulder tackles
- Jericho jumps from the top turnbuckle and gives Fandango a chop to the head as Fandango prematurely begins to take the fall. Jericho fist pumps and encourages the crowd to cheer. Please, someone, stuff him back into his little Best In The World At What I Do suit and feed him a lemon so he makes that face, because I want Chris Jericho to be a delicious jerk again. Please please please.
‘Tis Better To Give
- Jericho follows up with a running bulldog.
- Jericho attempts the Walls of Jericho but cannot get Fandango turned over. Fandango pushes him into the corner, and Jericho kicks him when he approaches.
- Jericho takes to the top for a flying cross body that Fandango is meant to roll over for the cover. It is so awkward that Jericho actually reaches to pull him over. 2 count. I wonder if Jericho would be eligible for a charitable tax receipt on that reversal.
- Fandango gives Jericho a high kick to the head. 2 count. Cole: “Near fall after near fall!” Me: Fart sound.
- Fandango with repeated blows to Jericho’s head, then awkwardly climbs to the top turnbuckle (the jumping-up is the only redeeming part of his finisher, and he doesn’t do it!). He goes for the leg drop but nobody’s home.
YES! YES! YES!
- Jericho quickly administers a Lionsault, and the crowd is elated, 2 count.
- They trade chops.
- Jericho throws Fandango into the corner, Fandango jumps up and performs a slick reversal into a sunset flip that Jericho in turn reverses into the Walls of Jericho. The fans are very happy. Fandango makes it to the ropes to break the hold.
- The next time Jericho approaches him in the corner, Fandango goes for a high kick, Jericho grabs his foot, Fandango turns it into a nice enzuiguri.
- Fandango climbs to the top and eats a Codebreaker mid air.
- 1-2-3! The fans are joyous, and it’s obvious that Jericho just wants to soak up every moment.
I cannot fault him for this, and I don’t want to lay the bad parts of the match all at Jericho’s feet either. This was a better finish and overall match than Wrestlemania. Their entrances, and the last 1-2 minutes of this match made me happy. Do we need to have both style and substance? Can some matches be purely for the sake of escapism and entertainment?
Johnny Curtis is an excellent Fandango, but he needs some help in the ring. Chris Jericho loves to entertain, but I wish he’d wrestle with a bit more precision and get some fresh material on the mic. I WANT to like these guys. There is a place in this circus for their commitment and style.
Consulting the Fozzy tour schedule, I see that Chris Jericho should be available for the next couple of months. Assuming he and Fandango will meet at Payback for the rubber match, I would love for them to take the wrestling one step further. The intention is there. They have the company’s support. Fandango needs to win. Make me believe that he can.
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