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WWE’s Jason Jordan problem

A young man with plenty of talent, but this still ain’t working.

A few weeks ago, I suggested on Twitter that WWE had a long-term plan for Jason Jordan. Watching him from the reveal to his grinning promo work to his terrible one-liners, everything made sense to me. Then came his hideous entrance music, a song to which even Pro Wrestling’s Star Man would be embarrassed to walk to the ring.

What I know about Jason Jordan is he’s a 28 year old athletic stud with great energy and he’s excellent off a hot tag. But there’s so much unproven about him. As I wrote the day after the angle “pay off,” WWE oversold and underdelivered, and that blunder, intentional or otherwise, placed Jordan far behind the proverbial eight ball. He’s not even holding a cue at this point.

He’s nowhere to be found on Sunday’s SummerSlam card, despite being involved at the apex of an angle WWE pushed for months on its flagship RAW brand. The WWE Intercontinental Championship won’t be defended on one of the three biggest shows of the year, and it’s because the Jordan/Miz pairing hasn’t had the time to develop, and thus far, the new character has flopped.

Back to my original suggestion. What I saw through all the J-Squared awfulness was quite simple, and it felt astonishingly obvious.

This is Rocky Maivia 2.0.

If you remember, Jim Ross famously called Dwayne Johnson’s original iteration a “blue chipper” and pushed him down everyone’s throat. The fans rejected this artificial construct as the farce it was, booing him while he smiled, showed excitement, and tried to shake hands and kiss babies like an old-school politician. Rocky wasn’t polished, but he had a great look and showed plenty of potential. His early promo work was shaky, but there was still something about him that told you he’d eventually find his niche.

It’s an imperfect comparison, which is a phrase I often use when making an analogy or a present explanation utilizing a past success. I have no idea whether WWE set this up to be a long con to a heel turn, but whether they did or not, they’ve got this thing staring them dead in the face. People aren’t accepting Jason Jordan as he’s being presented today, his music is brutal, and as a promo he’s limited. In the ring, he’s perfectly fine, and he’ll continue to improve. That goes for his interviews as well.

But there’s a problem here.

Whereas Rocky Maivia - the ultimate example of a shit-eating babyface that became one of the biggest stars in industry history - generated a solid negative response from an audience that didn’t like the cartoonish nature of his character, Jason Jordan gets little to no reaction at all. If we’re building (and we damn sure better be) to a heel turn where Jordan either ends up working with Kurt, announcing he used him from the beginning, or simply grows past him, buys into his own self-hype, and becomes an arrogant jerk, we need to hate him now.

And we don’t.

We sit on our hands. When he comes out, we can almost hear the fingers push down the trumpet valves because it’s quiet enough to pick out the details. Folks, this is not good. It’s not good at all, and WWE has to either ramp up the out-of-date irritating purile babyface quotient by a percentage of around eight million...or they’ve got to rush a turn.

If they rush the turn, and spin Jordan before he’s either loved or hated, the turn has very little chance of being even a quarter of Maivia’s transition to The Rock. Expecting Jordan, or anyone else, to become the next Dwayne is asking an awful lot. It’s likely impossible. But, if you pulled this trigger, it had better have one hell of an end game. Jason Jordan deserves his shot, and as you read this today, that shot feels more like it could emanate from a gun barrel securely pointed at his future.

Chad Gable being Angle’s son could have led to Chad becoming the next version of his “father,” but Jason Jordan is nothing like Kurt Angle. He doesn’t really work like Kurt, with a few caveats, and he doesn’t talk like Kurt. But, if you watched the first promo he cut backstage one week after he walked down that ramp to hug Angle in the ring, you can see a heel inside him. The way he eyeballed the interviewer and the overly confident, sly smile screamed antagonist to me.

This was a risk, and I’m not sure Vince and company performed the requisite calculations before giving it the green light. What’s clear as a mid-August day is that it’s failing, and the Jordan character is flailing in a piranha-infested body of water. They’ve got to put this young man in a boat with a finished bottom. He’s got plenty of talent, he’s young, he’s worked hard, and he’s hungry to make it. What they’re doing with him right now is ensuring he has almost no chance.

Even Matt and Jeff Hardy couldn’t consistently get him over last night during the six-man tag match on RAW. Admittedly, he was marginally more popular, but the “it” reaction simply isn’t there, on either side. When he’s on the screen, I almost expect to see a 205 Live banner, because that’s about as much as the audience appears to care. He’s the babyface version of Curtis Axel when he first debuted under that name. There’s no investment, and unlike Axel, there’s no Heyman to assist in the process. And, if you’ll recall, even Paul didn’t have enough lipstick for that hog.

He’s just not generating any real emotion, but no one is rooting against him. It’s on creative to get it right. There’s not much more Jason can do without help, and that’s not a knock on him. 95% of the workers put into this spot with his background and experience level would be in much the same position.

Luckily, Vince isn’t pushing Jordan like he’s Drew McIntyre circa 2007, because that would be an abject disaster. In that way, it’s good he’s not in a title match on Sunday, because the time isn’t right. However, for the time not to be right means it’s been a complete flop as of now. Again, the set-up for what turned out to be an underwhelming finish to the Kurt Angle “secret” storyline did no one any favors, but WWE now needs to fully invest in the future heel Jordan... planting seeds with the most cringeworthy, obnoxiously positive babyface we’ve seen since 1996. This dude needs to almost emit candy when he walks. Make us loathe just how fake it all is. We’re not going to buy it, and the mainstream fans will HATE it, but once it’s revealed to be a sham from a manipulative asshole?

Then we might just have us some money here.

It may be a rocky opening, but how about we make it a Rocky conclusion?

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