Jason Jordan: Positioning a Performer

Often times on a roster as stacked as WWE’s, sheer talent is the least troubling aspect of getting a performer to connect with the audience. Jason Jordan has proven to be an interesting example in that continuing trend. In the broad strokes sense, Jordan is a guy that’s always seemed to have all the necessary tools to be a star. Sure he’s rough around the edges in certain areas but at his core, Jordan is a phenomenal athlete that speaks well and has a tremendous look. Based on that alone he’s a guy clearly worth investing in but it’s where to position that potential that’s been the main issue.

Jordan was a guy with obvious physical tools in NXT but it was only his pairing with Chad Gable that really connected him with that audience. Together as American Alpha, Jordan and Gable were a spectacular in-ring duo that had a fun backstory worth investing in and that made their dramatic rise virtually unavoidable. They were an excellent team in the purest sense, a pair of talents that hid the other’s flaws and accentuated each other’s strengths. I think Jordan would be the first to admit that in many ways Gable was the pivotal personality and that allowed Jordan’s own character to slowly develop as he grew in confidence alongside the already dynamic Gable.

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However, for all of their sudden NXT success, the American Alpha act just didn't quite translate to SmackDown. Without a backstory ever developing in front of them, main roster crowds seemed uninterested in Alpha and their reactions were inconsistent at best as they struggled to find their feet in a SmackDown tag team world that contained the then red-hot Heath Slater and Rhyno pairing. These struggles seemingly weren't lost on those behind the scenes and out of nowhere, the titles were almost rushed on Alpha in December 2016. The title reign that followed showed those flaws too as the pair hardly featured before dropping the titles to The Usos

When given any real opportunity, American Alpha still delivered in-ring on the main roster but by the time WrestleMania 33 came and went, the once NXT stars were now just another team in a laboring SmackDown tag division. The duo then rarely featured together and before long, Jordan was infamously brought to RAW as none other than Kurt Angle’s son. The initial angle was more comedic than it was compelling and the crowd almost immediately responded with negativity. Call me an optimist but considering Angle’s initial WWE character, I do believe Jordan was always set to become an irritating ‘villain.’ Regardless, that’s thankfully where we are now and it’s only getting better by the week.

Constantly asking for opportunities and playing on his ‘father’s belief in his abilities, Jason’s character has become an almost incessant nuisance to RAW viewers as the company slowly embraces the crowd’s animosity towards Jordan. He’s testing Kurt’s patience by the week as the Hall of Famer wrestles with a genuine conflict. Jason Jordan isn’t embarrassing Angle in these major matches and he performs admirably in them but his inability to win the ‘big one’ is hindering Kurt’s ability to continue feeding him opportunities. Best of all, Jordan’s motivations for wanting to be close to his father, the RAW general manager, continue to come into question as his actions show very slight inconsistencies.

That’s the key to it all, Jordan isn’t a bad guy and he’s not really done anything much wrong at all. However, his desperation to impress continues to grate on the audience and even his peers, both babyface and heel. It’s all very organic and last week’s opening segment was the best example of it yet. Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns are on a collision course against each other but they did share a contempt and dismissiveness towards Jason Jordan. This aspect gives the Jordan character a genuine gripe as in many ways, he’s not getting the respect he likely deserves simply due to his father and that allows the perfect resentment that can fully turn Jordan villainous against Angle.

Everything I’ve already stated suggests that slowly but surely, Jordan’s character is really finding its feet and gradually, is becoming one of the company’s most consistently interesting. The ceiling for it all is still unclear but things are getting quite compelling and most important of all, Jordan’s individual performance only continues to impress. Last week’s match with Roman Reigns was Jordan’s best so far and whilst a big part of that obviously is due to the immaculate ‘Big Dog,’ it’s clear that Jordan’s skill-set has grown greatly and he’s starting to get the instincts and subtleties necessary to be a truly main event level singles star.

On paper, Jordan has everything he needs to be a major player and on this occasion, RAW’s writing team deserves credit for developing that. They’ve channeled and positioned his talent in a way that makes him unique, entertaining and even quite polarizing in design even if not yet in actual execution. He’s a character with flaws but one that isn’t clearly villainous by any means either. He’s captivating in that sense, a guy fighting perception so hard that he’s inadvertently embracing it. Fortunately, all of this extra investment only makes Jordan’s job inside the ring easier and frankly, that’s help he doesn't even really need. We are only in the midst of this journey at the moment but somehow someway, Jason Jordan is thriving as Kurt Angle’s son and for now, that’s something worth celebrating.

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