After suffering the indignity of being saddled with the pussified wrestling moniker of “Michael McGillicutty” for nearly 3 years, and for having pretty close to zero memorable matches or feuds in that same time period – Joe Henning, the son of WWE Legend Mr Perfect, has finally found himself on the receiving end of a legitimate push. And a monster push at that. But what are its chance of success?
It’s well known that the man who has now been hosed-down and repackaged as Curtis Axel is a respected and well-liked chap behind the scenes. Head honcho Triple H himself has long been a fan of his abilities, and The Rock also gave him a dazzling endorsement after he helped prepare The Great One for his matches against Punk and Cena. That’s two of the most important admirers you can have in the industry, I’m sure you’d agree. Consequently, a push had been rumoured for a long time…
Time seemed to be running out for Axel, however. Keep in mind – he’s no spring chicken (he’s less than 3 years younger than Cena), and most of his RAW/Smackdown appearances this year had involved him standing in the background of a backstage segment and looking surprised when Ron Simmons says “Damn” or Hornswoggle bites someone on the dick. Things didn’t look promising. But alas his time did come when he was unveiled as Paul Heyman’s new project and third best buddy last month.
And WWE seems to be getting behind Axel in a big way – make no mistake about it. He’s now featured in three consecutive RAW main events against the absolute top dogs on the roster in HHH and John Cena (twice). What’s more, he’s won each time (albeit by countout – but victories nonetheless). And now a Smackdown victory over Jericho courtesy of a sneaky roll-up can be added to that tally. WWE doesn’t seem interested in slowly moving Axel up the card like they did with Ryback, no sirree… it seems we’re being asked to accept Mr Axel as a main event playa from the outset.
But will the push prove a success, and will Axel get over with the masses? I’ll confess I’m mildly sceptical. Allow me to elaborate…
I know days are early – but one thing I’m slightly troubled with at the moment is that Axel’s only gimmick is that he’s a “Paul Heyman Guy”. He doesn’t really do or say anything else that makes him stand out from the pack. He has a pretty generic look if truth be told (Sandow and Bryan already co-dominate the beard look) and he is only an average talker. He needs something else to make him shine and genuinely matter, you feel me? Simply being a “Paul Heyman Guy” doesn’t quite cut the mustard. I want to see more of a reason for him being “a Paul Heyman Guy”. Perhaps he could seek to be “extreme” and resurrect the brand of wrestling that made Heyman such a big name in wrestling in the first place. Maybe WWE could air some vignettes of Axel achieving some seemingly impossible sporting feats, just like his father once did (View here – classic!). Or heck, maybe he could just moonwalk to the ring. Anything to give the character a bit of depth!
I’m sure that character development will come, and hanging out with creative genius Heyman certainly isn’t going to stunt his character growth. But sooner rather than later please, WWE.
Another thing I’m dubious about is the instant nature of the push. As I’ve already mentioned, Axel has been thrown straight into the deep end. We haven’t seem him squash the likes of Zack Ryder or Yoshi Tatsu on his way to the top of the mountain – he’s just been placed at the peak via some sort of Godly hand. Yes he’s achieved victories over Cena, HHH and Jericho – but they’ve all been presented as flukes. If audiences are supposed to take him as a serious badass, he needs to score a couple of convincing victories on TV. On the next RAW, I’d like to see him annihilate someone like Brodus Clay or The Great Khali. Not just because beating up weird looking people is funny, but I want to be able to understand for myself why Paul Heyman has hand-picked him.
Scepticisms aside, it’s obvious that Axel is very competent wrestler. His in-ring work is tidy, clinical and, most importantly, convincing. Inheriting his Dad’s finishing-move and remixing his entrance theme are both very welcome touches too. I just need more of a push to convince me that he’s deserving of my precious attention.
All signs are pointing towards a Curtis Axel v HHH match at the Payback PPV. I really wish it wasn’t because the concussion storyline is stupid and tasteless – especially whilst Dolph Ziggler is out of action with a very real concussion. But be that as it may, if the match happens, one would have to assume that Curtis Axel emerges once again with a fluke victory… And where from there?!
After feuding with HHH, there’s not really many directions to go that aren’t a step backwards. Could Axel find himself battling John Cena in the main event as soon Summerslam? I think anyone would be a fool to rule it out. A foolish fool no less.
Curtis Axel has seemingly convinced HHH, The Rock, Vince et al that’s he’s deserving of this push. In the coming weeks, let’s hope he’s equally as successfully in convincing we the fans. Because after all, if anyone deserves success – it’s the dude who was called Michael McGillicutty for 3 years.
Over and out.