AUGUSTA — World Wrestling Entertainment returned to the Augusta Civic Center for the first time in several years Sunday afternoon with a show featuring Maine native Curtis Hussey, who wrestles as Fandango.

“It’s weird, because I started wrestling in Portland in 1999, but I haven’t really wrestled here for so long, so I don’t get as big a reaction, probably because not everyone remembers me,” Hussey said in a backstage area during the show’s intermission. “But it’s cool for my parents to see me wrestle and old wrestling friends get to come and check me out.”

Hussey said live events are a little less structured than the weekly television tapings, so his character gets more time to interact with the crowd.

“I can go out there and showboat a little bit more, which is fun,” he said. The Fandango character wears flamboyant wrestling attire and has a catchy theme song that people often sing along and dance to.

While the biggest names in WWE, including John Cena and world champion Dean Ambrose, were in New York, the crowd of more than 1,000 people got to see WWE stars such as the Dudley Boyz, Kane, and Enzo and Cass, who got the biggest crowd reaction of the night.

“Enzo has so much energy, whether he is performing the night after WrestleMania or in front of a local crowd in Maine,” said Evan Warren, who drove up from southern Maine with his 7-year-old son and his two friends. “WWE doesn’t come up here all that often, so when they do, we make a point to catch the show.”


The world’s biggest sports entertainment company hasn’t been in Augusta since 2012, but they were in Bangor on Saturday night with the same lineup. Last December, the WWE returned to Lewiston for the first time in more than a decade.

The crowd was mostly families. Gone from WWE are legendary superstars such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock, replaced by the like of Cena, Ambrose and Seth Rollins.

The WWE product is now more “PG” than it was in the late 1990s, when Hussey was starting wrestling, and caters to young children and families.

“Back when I was in college, I couldn’t have imagined watching a WWE show with my kids,” Fiona said. “But now things are cleaned up, and it’s a pretty good form of family entertainment.

Hussey used to watched superstars such as Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Mick Foley and Bret Hart while growing up in Standish.

“When I was a teenager, I began training in a ring in the woods in Buxton after hounding these guys for a while,” he said. “You have to visualize what you want to be in life to get what you want, and I visualized this from the moment I stepped into the ring.”


He began his professional wrestling career in 1999 and bounced around the independent circuit for several years before signing a developmental contract with WWE in 2006. Hussey worked for several years under the name Johnny Curtis and was the Season Four winner of NXT, a WWE competition show and now the flagship of the company’s developmental system.

Hussey was repackaged, a wrestling term used when a wrestler is given a new character, as a ballroom dancer-type named Fandango, and he made his official television debut on Smackdown on March 1, 2013. But Hussey’s character avoided actually wrestling anybody, for a variety of reasons, including their inability to pronounce his name correctly.

His first match was on the biggest stage in professional wrestling, WrestleMania 29, in New York City, when he defeated Jericho in front of more than 80,000 people. It was surreal for Hussey, who said it took him several months for the moment to sink in.

“It was a lot of pressure leading up to my first match against a guy I grew up admiring and one of the reasons I got into this business,” Hussey said. “I was not only nervous as a performer, but working with one of the guys I looked up to and not letting him down.”

Since his debut as Fandango, Hussey has seen crowds across the world sing, hum and dance as his entrance music plays. The tune even made it to No. 11 on the UK iTunes chart. Currently, he wrestles as a tag team with Tyler Breeze, called “Breezango,” and the pair are eagerly anticipating the next WWE Draft, which will be held Tuesday during Smackdown’s first-ever live Tuesday night broadcast.

“There’s a positive vibe in the locker room because it’s a change that’s creating more room and slots and TV time for guys who aren’t really getting it,” Hussey said. “Tyler and I are really excited to see where we fall.”


Hussey isn’t the only WWE wrestler with a connection to Maine. Gina LoMonaco, owner of GEvolution Fitness in Augusta, is the sister of Mark LoMonaco, who has wrestled as Bubba Ray Dudley for more than 20 years.

LoMonaco brought her son to watch his uncle perform live for the first time, and though Dudley and his tag team partner, D-Von Dudley, wrestle as heels, or bad guys, Bubba Ray called out for his nephew several head nods during their opening match loss to the team of Enzo Amore and Big Cass.

“My brother’s had a passion for the industry from when he was a young boy,” LoMonaco said of her brother. She said she was excited to see him perform because she doesn’t get to see him that often.

Hussey said he’ll be involved in wrestling in some capacity for the rest of his life, whether as a promoter running his own shows or as a trainer or something else. It’s all he’s ever known.

“It’s the only thing I’m really good at, and since I’ve dedicated this much time, I’m probably all in for the rest of my life,” he said before getting ready to drive a few hours south to Providence, Rhode Island for Monday Night Raw. “I’m definitely grateful for everything I’ve achieved, but I want to go higher up the food chain in the WWE.”

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