WWE superstar Fandango interview: 'I owe a lot to European fans'

We sat down with the superstar that brought 'Fandangoing' to the WWE universe just under a year ago

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The Independent Online

The art of dance has been an intrinsic part of life since the earliest human civilizations. In all its various forms it has dazzled for generation after generation. From Fred Astaire to Rudolf Nureyev, the twist to twerking, with great movement comes great charisma.

Perhaps inevitably, dance has found a bond with professional wrestling, with characters incorporating various moves into their repertoires over the years. One such act who has moulded ballroom with brawn is WWE superstar Fandango, who we caught up with on a particularly warm day in Central London.

Born Curtis Hussey, in 1981, he is a 15-year veteran in the ring, who has had a sensational recent time in the squared circle; Hussey made his in-ring debut as Fandango at Wrestlemania 29, last April at the MetLife stadium in New Jersey. His memories of that occasion are hugely positive.

“It really took me a month or two after for it to set in that I debuted at Wrestlemania and beat Lionheart Chris Jericho, a guy I grew up watching, and who was one of the reasons I got into the wrestling business - a huge influence for me - and he helped me a lot.

“He helped me build the Fandango character by working with me leading up to Wrestlemania. It was overwhelming and unbelievable and it happened in the blink of an eye.”

The night after Wrestlemania is when things really began to take off for Fandango. During an episode of Raw, the WWE’s flagship television show, the New Jersey crowd began to hum along to Fandango’s very catchy theme music. After his match, the crowd kept humming, even during other bouts on the show. As the fans left the building the PA played the track again, leading to thousands of the WWE Universe (many of them visiting Brits) humming the song onto buses and trains.

It was a surreal experience for Fandango, and he acknowledges the importance those fans had that night on his career.

“It was very similar to the Daniel Bryan ‘YES’ chants which happened the year before. Whether it’s the football clubs they get the chanting from, the rowdiness that comes along with the European fans makes for a hell of a show.

“We look forward to it every year having the European fans coming over to watch Wrestlemania, and usually the next night they help make Superstars and I owe a lot to them.”

Fandango and his signature entrance music quickly went viral, leading to some enthusiastic British fans starting a campaign to get the song into the UK charts, which it did, eventually entering at #44 in April 2013.

The superstar was initially puzzled about the campaign, but soon became aware of its significance.

“It seemed distant because I don’t really know what the charts are like over in the UK, but getting the tweets and reading online what’s going on and getting a lot of feedback from people was really cool. To have a lot of the UK fans pushing for me helped make that song, and they felt like they were a part the success of the 'Fandangoing' which is pretty damn cool.”

The song was also played during many sporting events, including at Goodison Park during an Everton match, which led to Fandango becoming a fan of the club, after an initial online battle.

“A few people on Twitter were getting onto Everton saying ‘hey please play Fandango’s entrance music’, and Everton sent out a tweet that said we will not play Fandango’s entrance music during our show”, he explained.

“So we had a little bit of banter back and forth, a couple of jabs thrown and eventually they sent out a tweet saying we will play Fandango’s music before the game and now we’re good friends.”

It was clear in our conversation just how much admiration and respect Fandango has for British wrestling fans, who stay up in their thousands every week to watch the latest WWE action live on Sky Sports.

“I think the British take to the characters, and they enjoy the character aspect and they get behind the underdog. They like who they like, whether it’s Big Daddy from back in the day, to Fandango now, or William Regal, or Wade Barrett.

“They stand behind who they like, they’re loyal just like they are to their football clubs.”

Fandango is not just a fan of British fans, however, he’s also somewhat of a connoisseur of British wrestling, which attracted television audiences in the tens of millions in its heyday. He reeled off a list of British names he’s a fan of, including the recently sadly departed Billy Robinson.

“Billy Robinson was a huge inspiration for a lot of guys including myself with his catch-as-catch-can style. I like Johnny Saint, Rollerball Rocco, Marty Jones, Fit Finlay, Dave Taylor. The old school World of Sport guys. When I watch wrestling most of the time I’m either watching WWE programming, or I’m watching the old British style wrestling which is really exciting for me, I love it.”

With over a decade’s worth of experience in the wrestling business, including being the NXT Season Four winner, 2014 looks set to be another successful one for Fandango. When asked about his goal for the rest of the year, his answer was simple.

“To feel the gold around my waist. 2014’s going to be a year of change for Fandango, whether it’s tweaking the character or evolving it a little bit. But definitely some gold around my waist.”

Although born in Maine, Fandango is now as good as an honorary Brit. Whether he’s dancing or dropkicking, one thing is for sure - he’s always entertaining.