Induction: Johnny Curtis: NXT winner tests your gag reflex

24 Submitted by on Thu, 17 October 2013, 20:00

WWE, 2011

When Curtis Hussey, better known to WWE fans as Fandango, was getting ready to debut his new gimmick, the more cynical fans in the WWE Universe (i.e. the ones who won’t repeat a silly marketing buzzword like, “WWE Universe”) balked at the idea. Week after week, ridiculous vignettes aired that seemed to guarantee a spectacular flop and a trip back to developmental for the 29-year-old. Then, he made his long-awaited debut and proved all of those naysayers absolutely…


…right. What, did you think I was talking about his ballroom-dancing gimmick? No, the gimmick I’m talking about is one you would have missed completely if you skipped Smackdown on Friday nights during the summer of 2011.

So, yes, you missed it completely. Let me catch you up to speed:

As Johnny Curtis, Hussey shocked whatever miniscule portion of the world that watched NXT by winning the show’s fourth season, beating out favorite Brodus Clay. Those of us who read the rag sheets (or the internet, brother! The internet’s got the scoops!) were assured that this odd decision by WWE was purely for storyline purposes. Brodus Clay would do just fine backing up Alberto Del Río, and later, adopting a dancing gimmick completely unrelated to Fandango’s, but Johnny Curtis was guaranteed a tag team title shot along with his partner and mentor, R-Truth. It wasn’t as lofty a prize as the title shots guaranteed on NXT Season 1 or 2, but it was a nice way to keep two lower-card wrestlers occupied for a while with a meaningful storyline. jcsg01
jcsg02 Problem was, R-Truth suddenly wasn’t low on the card anymore. In April of 2011, shortly after the NXT season ended, Truth turned heel by beating up John Morrison, smoking a cigarette at ringside, and popularizing the water bottle as the hot new foreign object of choice. Suddenly both a heel and a main-eventer, R-Truth had no reason to associate with Curtis, who disappeared from foreign television. He didn’t disappear from American television, though, as NXT 4 had never even aired on U.S. TV to begin with.
Finally, on June 3rd, Curtis resurfaced on Smackdown explaining his woes and assuring the crowd that he would do “what any superstar would do.” He proceeded to spill milk onto a plate while weeping. Get it? Crying over spilled milk? Well, you might have gotten it, but someone watching in another country and speaking another language that doesn’t have such an expression would have had no earthly idea what was going on. spilled milk
pouring milk Sort of like how everyone else felt when Curtis started dumping the milk over his own head.
It may have been bizarre and more than a little nonsensical, but it was enough to leave an impression on the announcers… two of whom immediately started talking about R-Truth for the next thirty seconds. Apparently only Josh Mathews had been paying attention, because when he brought up the “spilled milk” promo, neither Cole nor Booker appeared to have any clue what he was talking about. Hmmm… announcers not being shown the backstage segments? Didn’t WCW try that for a while on Nitro? jcsg03
jcsg04 The next week, Johnny Curtis briefly reminded us who he was, then demonstrated that he had a “chip on his shoulder,” which he then ate. Viewers in Romania likely didn’t know what to make of Johnny’s tiny tortilla snack.
Curtis continued to promise his debut on Smackdown, this time with a putter in hand and a miniature strip of artificial turf at his feet. jcsg05

No, this wasn’t a promo for the new tag team of “Hole in One” Barry Darsow and The Gambler, although that would have been a much better use of television time.

And what should appear at the end of the turf but an “ace in the hole!” Barry Darsow rejoiced at his paycheck for lending out his home putting set, but everyone else watching just scratched their heads.
Next, Curtis proved that he could “cut the mustard” by selecting bottles of ketchup and mayonnaise, but excluding the aforementioned yellow condiment. If fans were having trouble making heads or tails of any of this, they could at least rest assured that this gimmick wouldn’t last long enough for him to use “making heads or tails” as a sight gag. jcsg07
 jcsg08 The NXT Season 4 winner next promised an end to this foolishness, vowing not to paint himself into a corner, which he demonstrated on a piece of canvas while explaining the joke. If WWE could be edited for Indian audiences to portray The Great Khali as a babyface, even when he was “praying to the most evil of Hindu gods,” I’m sure they could use studio magic to make these segments at least somewhat comprehensible to foreign markets.
Then again, try explaining what the hell was up with Curtis’s pointing and laughing in any language. painting himself
jcsg09 A Ralphus wannabe got some brief screen time in Johnny’s next skit, only for the NXT winner to abscond with his birthday dessert. “I’m gonna take the cake!” said Curtis. I guess by this time, WWE noticed that these segments weren’t connecting with the fans, so they got Johnny to explain each high-brow work of comedy out loud.
I bet that even more disturbing laughter would have helped them get the jokes. takes the cake
jcsg10 When his idiot assistant put a stuffed elephant into a bag for his “the cat is out of the bag” sketch, Curtis’s follow-up “elephant in the room” sketch was ruined. The writing was on the wall…
No, sorry, that was the next week’s gag. jcsg11

“I’m gonna induct you into my Hall of Pain! Hey, don’t blame me. Brodus was the one who came up with the idea.”

Finally, after weeks of beating a dead horse (Thank God that wasn’t one of his gags), it was the night of Johnny’s debut. Mark Henry, his opponent, gave him another idea for a sight gag: “break a leg.” That one comment made the whole dumb set-up worth it. Well, maybe not the whole set-up, but at least the last 20 or so weeks of it.
I’m surprised Curtis was put in a babyface role after testing the fans’ patience for so long. Besides, can you imagine anybody getting behind a guy who looked like this? jcsg13.2 jcsg13.1jcsg13.3
jcsg14 I’m even more surprised that Johnny didn’t tally up a bunch of incandescent bulbs so that he could “count the lights.”
Predictably, Curtis lost his match to Henry… jcsg15
…then entered a battle royal the next week, where he was tossed over the top rope with both feet landing on NXT. Fans were no doubt disappointed that after all the hype, Johnny had such an unceremonious exit from TV. If he were going to go out with a bang, the least the WWE’s resident literalist could have done was, say, make like the Ultimate Warrior and “blow up” on the way to the ring. jcsg16
jcsg17 Speaking of NXT, the season Curtis ended up on was called “Redemption,” the premise being that the losers of previous seasons would compete to earn a spot on Season 6. The fact that the winner of the last season got booted off the main roster obviously didn’t bode well for the competitors. The WWE equivalent of a black hole ended with no winner after more than a year, and the NXT name was used to re-christen WWE’s developmental league, Florida Championship Wrestling. Curtis finally got his guaranteed tag team title shot, albeit with Michael McGillicutty, and earned his guaranteed loss.
It’s hard to see what exactly WWE had in mind when they slapped this gimmick on Johnny Curtis. Perhaps they wanted Curtis to promote a new line of talking WWE toys from Mattel with his “figures of speech.” jcsg18
jcsg19 Maybe they were setting up a feud between the Undertaker and Curtis, who would moonlight as a real-life “tombstone-pile driver.”
Or maybe they were hoping that his literal interpretations of famous phrases would go viral on the internet. As if the guy could ever spawn a meme…. jcsg20


Fandango-ing aside, one thing’s for sure: “sight gag” Johnny Curtis never drew a dime.


Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He also runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at:
24 Responses to "Induction: Johnny Curtis: NXT winner tests your gag reflex"
  1. Down With OPC says:

    I seem to remember some stupid segment that happened during an NXT/SmackDown taping, maybe it was one of these.

  2. CBCB says:

    Reading this, I can’t help thinking of those La Quinta commercials: “He’s got his ducks in a row!”, “He has a leg up on the competition!”, and so on. Hmm… “La Quinta”. Maybe they could’ve repackaged Curtis with a luchador mask.

    “Finally, after weeks of beating a dead horse (Thank God that wasn’t one of his gags)” – why do I get the feeling that WWE would’ve named the horse “Lilian”?

  3. 314 says:

    While these segments were boring and bland…I loved his work on NXT Redemption as “creepy” Johnny Curtis. He played the part well and made me laugh a lot (as did NXT Redemption as a whole…silly storylines coupled with some pretty solid wrestling made for a surprisingly good show). He’s even integrated a small aspect of the Creepy Johnny Curtis character to his current role as Fandango.

    • I'm Not Using My Real Name says:

      I enjoyed Dirty Curty on Redemption too. I didn’t miss a single episode. It was like a strange alternate universe on that show. There was a storyline where Johnny Curtis and Maxine kidnapped Matt Striker and held him hostage for a number of weeks. During that same time Striker was still showing up on Smackdown. This led Curtis to explain that WWE was trying to keep things quiet so they hired a shorter, fatter Matt Striker lookalike to appear on Smackdown.

      NXT Redemption was my favorite season. Think about it:

      A love triangle between AJ Lee, Titus O’Neil, and Hornswoggle.

      Curtis inviting women to his van.

      Bateman ruining the Curtis/Maxine wedding and brawling while Michael Cole called the action completely deadpan.

      Darren young trying to gather the courage to ask out Tamina by giving her a coconut tree. And Titus convincing him to ask her out to McDonald’s.

      Yoshi Tatsu and Tyson Kidd having a long feud over a broken action figure, leading to the first ever Little Yoshi’s Broken Leg on a Pole Match. The set up was ridiculous but their matches were fun to watch.

      It was also the first chance the Uso’s had to shine as good guys. They did some good work on that show.

      Was Redemption wrestlcrap? Yeah, but it was fun too.

  4. Raging_Demons says:

    It may be crap but I was one of the few people out there that liked it.

  5. Guest says:

    So now that this is out of the way, how long until Fandango himself gets inducted?

  6. Sir Thomas says:

    I honestly liked the guy at first. It was definitely stupid, but it was fun-stupid. But it did kinda start to get old around the birthday cake segment for me.

  7. timmy says:

    I freakin loved that segment when maxine and curtis took out matt striker, I thought that was the funniest thing ive seen. He suffocates striker with chloroform and maxine asks “why do you have chloroform?” Then curtis replys, “why dont I have chloroform?” The only thing crap was his motto : “Lets get wierd”

  8. SCFNL says:

    Thankfully for Johnny Curtis / Fandango, I don’t think anybody will remember this one. I didn’t realise people actually even watched NXT. As ridiculous a gimmick as Fandango is, at least it was a character for him to try and take the ball and run with, rather than just be given some generic cookie cutter gimmick / name (as is sadly the norm in this era of wrestling) and then bomb.

  9. Cpt. SuckerPunch says:

    wow, and i thought the ball room dancer idea sucked (and it does…), nice to know johnny curtis has never had a good gimmick…”im not going to paint myself in a corner”, followed by him literally doing so…this is the kinda promo that drove ric flair to drinking…the end of this induction is brilliant by the way…and CBCB’s la quinta idea is, to borrow a phrase, licence to print money…which ofcourse is then followed by me printing money…

  10. Marvelous says:

    I must admit I chuckled once or twice at these. Just because of how funny the character found himself. The type of guy who says to his girlfriend “hey guess how funny I was today” always makes me laugh. I saw an episode of nxt where he abducted striker with a chloroform rag then lost him that REALLY had me laughing

  11. David Crane says:

    I think it’s a bit of a crime this induction didn’t mention how AWESOME creepy Johnny Curtis was in NXT redemption. You could definitely tell the guy had talent then, as he really stood out more then anyone in NXT after season one. I knew that if given “the ball” with a decent gimmick to display his charisma he would be a star, very happy to see that happen for him.

  12. Lee says:

    I think SImon Dean should be inducted for the same reason Pirate Paul was inducted – the gimmick may have been stupid to begin with, but he was getting over with it and doing his best to make it work, only for WWE to fail to make the most of it and instead have him manage that twin tag team nobody remembers.

  13. John says:

    I think this gimmick was ripped off from Zack Ryder’s True Long Islan Story where Zack would draw a dollar (“I can draw money), reach for a brass-colored wrestling ring (“I’m reaching for that brass ring”), and climb a chain link fence (“I’m trying to get myself over”), amongst others. Ryder used these jokes on an intentionally goofy web show, that did actually make him popular. For a while. Johnny Curtis was using it to try and get the WWE fans to know who he was. It…didn’t work.

    • Walter Kovacs says:

      That’s what I thought too. Considering that Ryder got himself over with his show on it’s own and that was on the Internet, someone may have thought that it would work with TV behind it.

  14. Alexandru says:

    Yeah I vaguely remember this, when I did watch Smackdown every once in a awhile, and thinking why isn’t he using his Creepy Curtis gimmick? which was just great.

  15. THE Jeffry Mason says:

    Great job as always. So… how long until Smackdown as a whole is inducted?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Is this THE worst gimmick of all time?

  17. James says:

    Add me to the ones who liked his NXT persona. Kind of disappointed when he became Fandango, but that worked out OK…for a while.

    And Modern Family did the “elephant in the room” joke better.

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