In what has become the prevailing WWE angle of 2017, the storyline reveal of Raw general manager Kurt Angle as the biological father of Jason Jordan continues to tease strong possibilities on a build toward WrestleMania 34 in April.
Beginning with a series of cryptic texts on Angle's phone in May and continuing through the July reveal of their relationship, the pairing of father and son quickly became a bright spot on Raw. But the storyline didn't truly catch fire until November when Jordan began to come into his own as a leading man.
Relying on scripted nepotism to gain opportunities his character hadn't yet earned, Jordan became a heat-seeking missile as a whiny babyface who drew constant boos from the crowd while subtly teasing a future heel turn.
Angle, who returned to WWE in March ahead of his induction into the Hall of Fame at WrestleMania 33, appeared as a guest this week on CBS Sports' "In This Corner Podcast" [listen and subscribe here] and spoke about Jordan's real-life evolution as a performer.
"I knew Jason had the ability to do it. I didn't know if he would have the ability to carry the storyline," Angle said. "I knew what he could do in the ring. I wasn't concerned about the fans saying, 'Oh man, this guy is actually pretty damn good.' We already knew that, and we were hoping that his character was [on the same level]."
While Jordan, 29, came to Raw with a reputation as a strong in-ring worker from his time as one half of former SmackDown tag team champions American Alpha, it is his vast improvement on the microphone that have taken his character and the storyline involving Angle to a whole new level.
"You know what's crazy? Everything that the fans have gone through the last three or four months, most of the fans can't stand him," Angle said. "A lot of the fans are saying, 'He's getting the wrong kind of heat because we really don't like him for real.'
"Everything that has occurred up until now, Vince [McMahon] already knew how they were going to react, so this has been working. As many fans will say 'it's not working' and 'get rid of him' or 'I'm not buying it,' now that the storyline has started to span out and developing further, it was a good fit. Jason is doing a great job, and he has carried the storyline very well. We will see where it goes from here but it should be pretty intriguing."
The way in which Jordan, as a babyface, has drawn such a negative response from the crowd has created comparisons to The Rock's initial WWE debut in 1996 as "blue chip" prospect Rocky Maivia. In Jordan's case, it was planned that way. Jordan has also drawn comparison to The Rock in how ready he appears for stardom at such an early point in his main roster career.
Angle agreed with the correlation.
"Yes, yes. We knew, and I knew personally, that this was going to make the fans sick to their stomach [of Jordan], but I wasn't concerned about how it was going to develop and where it is going to go from here on," Angle said. "It's gong to be a pretty cool storyline, and I think a lot of fans are going to say, 'You know what? This kid deserves to be in the main event level.'
"[Jordan] is developing every single week. He's getting better and better, and his promos and pre-tapes are getting better and better. His in-ring ability -- I said this before and I will say it again -- he has got to be in the top three or the top five in-ring performers from an athletic standpoint right now today. A lot of people would disagree with me but continue to watch him and see what he can do and you will see what I'm talking about here in the future."
Angle has made the rounds recently promoting the 25th anniversary of Monday Night Raw, which will emanate simultaneously from Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the Manhattan Center in New York on Jan. 22 (USA Network, 8 p.m. ET). Tickets are available for each event through all Ticketmaster outlets.