The night after Fandango made his in-ring debut against Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania 29, that amazing Raw crowd at the IZOD Center turned him into a star. They randomly hummed his entrance music throughout the last half of the show, despite whatever else was going on inside the squared circle. They danced goofily in their seats to the song. And despite a win on the biggest stage in the character’s first match the night before, they are the ones that put him on the map. Quite frankly the entire experience, whether you were there live or watching at home, was just flat out fun. Aside from a major title win by Dolph Ziggler, the other thing everyone took away from that show was Fandango’s theme music.
And just like that, overnight, the whole thing somehow went mainstream and “Fandangoing” became the latest craze. I’ll admit, I have never been one for any dumb trends that end in “-ing” (planking, Tebowing, etc.), or lame internet videos (I’m looking at you, Harlem Shake). But even though there was a level of ridiculousness to this, it felt somehow tolerable because it was coming from something that the wrestling world had created.
Of course, within one week, WWE already may have ruined it.
Heading into this past Monday Night Raw, all I could think was, “please don’t kill it, please don’t kill it.” I was hoping that they would let the fans’ love of this goofy fun continue organically. Naturally, WWE decided to cram it down our throats before we got the chance to see Fandango come out to the ring.
I get the company wanting to capitalize on the whole trend; there is no beef with that. However, they would have been much better served to play a little Fandangoing highlight package heading into or out commercial break, in a way that it is not intrusive, but enough to acknowledge that it is happening. Instead, prior to Fandango’s entrance, they roll Jerry “The King” Lawler out to the ring to do a whole live segment breakdown of the entire thing that’s been going down all week long, and I feel that that was a major mistake.
See, wrestling fans are like defiant teenagers. Basically, if you tell us what to do, we are not going to want to do it. In this instance, WWE took something we already enjoyed and were telling us, “this is cool, you guys should do this more and make this bigger so we can then somehow market and make money off of it.” And if they weren’t attempting to do that, then I’ll be damned if it didn’t come off that way. At the risk of sounding like a smelly hipster, now that the company and millions of non-wrestling fans on the internet say it’s cool, well, it just isn’t anymore.
Look, that crowd in South Carolina sucked last week anyway. However, and the ironic thing is, I fully believe that if Vince McMahon and the writing team would have just let Fandango come out without drawing too much attention to it, the audience would have naturally given WWE the reaction they wanted, and everyone would have sung and danced along merrily. On the contrary, by the time the former Johnny Curtis pranced out to the ring, the fans were already Fandagoed out. Sure, they eventually half-heartedly bought in and hummed along because I think that is what they wanted to do all along, but it was obvious that there was much deliberation, as if they were a student who just saw Mr. Belding wearing a Buddy Band (Google it, kids).
Going forward, I think the company might catch a break this week because they will be in England for Raw, a crowd that generally likes to chant along anyway. By the week after that, though, I’d imagine it will have run its course and everything will be business as usual once WWE has forced it on us for the third week in a row. And personally, I hope that is not the case, because this is something that could be fun.
Ultimately, it will be up to Fandango himself to play the role and make us care about more than just an entrance. As I see it right now, the character is already sort of stale; it is just his music that we like. When the joy of that finally wears off, we will really see if Fandango can be a main player or not. I just hope that WWE stays out of its own way and allows us to illustrate our true response without leading us to act any given way.
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