During a recent appearance on the “Insight with Chris Van Vliet” podcast, Dirty Dango (Fandango in WWE) commented on his ballroom dancer gimmick in WWE, what his working relationship with Vince McMahon was like, and more. You can check out some highlights from the podcast below:
On how he got his ballroom dancer gimmick: “This is a good story. I was tag team champions with a guy named Tyler Reks [Gabbi Tuft]. A good friend of mine. [He goes by] Gabriel, I believe now. Gabe and I were Florida tag team champions, he come up and was doing some stuff with ECW. Hunter put Gabe and Curt Hawkins together and he had an idea for them where each week they’d come on SmackDown dressed up as strippers, firefighters, Breezango essentially, you know? Gabe didn’t want to do it, asked for his release. We all supported him. He went home to his family and did his thing. Hawkins then went to whoever was in charge and said ‘hey, what about Johnny Curtis? He’s just kind of hanging out in the back doing dark matches, and eating catering, and walking around selling.’ They were like, ‘yeah, that’s a good idea!’ And they come up to me next week and they go, ‘we want you to do the gimmick, don’t tell Hawkins.’ So, like, I went and told Hawkins, ‘sorry bro, they asked me, they want me to go dancing school and be a stripper,’ and he wasn’t into it. It wasn’t his first choice. I don’t think it was anybody’s first choice to be a stripper. He was cool with it.
“They started sending me to a stripper school, dance school in Tampa. This is around the time they started filming at Full Sail, so I was tagging with Michael McGullicuty, who is Joe Hennig, a good friend of mine. I would come out kind of like, you know, pole dancing on the ring posts and grinding real weird. We were actually doing live events too. I was the stripper and he [Michael McGullicuty] was like ‘what’s this guy all about?’ and ‘Simply’ Johnny Curtis was the gimmick. This was like November 2012. Then one week at Full Sail, Hunter comes over to me, goes, ‘we’re not going to do the stripper thing.’ I’m like, cool. I’m gonna be in the f*****g Shield or something. Now we’re going to have you go to the ballroom dancing school. I was, ‘oh, great, even better!’ I was moved out to Houston and started going to the ballroom dancing school out there, which was super hard, bro.”
On training for the gimmick with dancing classes: “I was training for three or four months doing that [ballroom dancing classes], and then Vince flew me up to Manhattan. Then started filming vignettes there. I remember he rented out the Highline Ballroom, and we filmed for a couple of days there. He didn’t like the way I said ‘Fandango’ into the camera. So he cut all of those vignettes. One day, I was just working out in Atlanta and Mark Carrano was just calling me, ten missed calls from Carrano and I’m like, ‘oh f***’. He was like, ‘Vince has been waiting up in production for you for like half an hour.’ So apparently, he was going to produce all of the vignettes and no one told me. So I’m just working out and Vince is waiting for me for like an hour and they had this whole room set-up with like a screen and all of this stuff. I’m like, ‘oh, s***’! So I ran over, and then Vince produced the vignettes. He turned the whole thing where I didn’t say the name correctly in the original vignettes, and he turned that into an angle where I debuted on TV and nobody could pronounce my name correctly. Ain’t that cool? You know.”
On Vince McMahon having wrestlers he likes to push and get behind: “Drew McIntyre. He loved Drew, and probably still does now. Drew was young, maybe not quite ready for where he’s at now, but I feel like if you’ve got that ability as Drew does, it’s cliché to say it, but the cream rises to the top. He’s just too good not to be there, you know what I’m saying? He just had to go out and grow up a little bit. It’s tough man, you have to think, Vince has so many different talents coming up and probably so much stuff going through his brain. It’s like someone driving a cool car on your parking lot all the time, like, ‘f*** I’m going to drive this one, I’ve never driven this one before,’ it’s just the business, man.”