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The Perfect Puzzle

Does this sound familiar? Wrestler is the son of a bonafide 90’s star and he’s currently on the WWE roster being underutilized. This description is referencing Curtis Axel, the son of the late Curt Hennig, aka Mr. Perfect. While Curtis shares the same heritage (or misfortune depending on who you talk to) as Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, and David Hart Smith, his situation is unique. Like Cody, he’s still on the roster and he has a level of prominence in the company as IC champion. However, like Ted DiBiase and David Hart Smith, many find him boring and don’t think he has charisma. He’s been paired with Paul Heyman to get over with the WWE crowd, and there was some momentum behind that idea before Heyman added Ryback to the Heyman stable. With Heyman’s current preoccupation with Ryback, the question now remains: how do you ensure that Axel doesn’t become the forgotten man while still getting him the heat that is warranted by an association with Heyman?

Axel is clearly a good wrestler who just needs seasoning in terms of the extra skills necessary to be a star in the WWE. With that said, the point of putting him with Heyman was to establish Axel so that when the partnership ends, fans feel some emotion when they see Axel hit the stage. To do this, (with Ryback in Heyman’s stable) creative will have to find a way to strike the perfect balance between having Axel paired with Heyman and having Axel be his own man. Axel doesn’t have to be attached at the hip to Heyman for every match on Raw or Smackdown. Axel needs to do solo work, while still remaining under the umbrella of Paul Heyman. Axel needs to seek out and start feuds by himself, go on destructive tears without provocation from Heyman, and show that he can be a good heel without Heyman’s prodding. If Axel can do good solo work—win matches with independent heel tactics, ambush opponents alone before matches, jump opponents after matches with a weapon, etc.—while remaining under the Heyman umbrella, he won’t have the problem of paired identity. When they see that Axel does things for himself, fans will start to separate Axel and Heyman mentally, instead of automatically equating Axel with Heyman. Let Axel be a bit independent and self-interested and find his unique voice as a heel.

curtis axelI’m not suggesting that the pairing between Heyman and Axel end any time soon, (far from it) but the enormity of Heyman’s figure overshadows Axel’s developing persona. It feels as if during most of this pairing, Heyman has been the one receiving the attention while Axel played second fiddle; those roles should be reversed. Give Axel’s burgeoning persona a chance to shine by letting Axel get out of that constant shadow. That way he can show the WWE Universe his persona/his ability. I know that many have already cast aside Axel as simply a good worker with no charisma, but I don’t know if that’s advisable. He’s been endorsed collectively by too many WWE icons and stars for me to think that he can’t be what they say he can. The Rock and Triple H are both reportedly high on Axel, and although each man has respectively missed on talents in the past, I can’t remember the last guy that both men held in high regard who flopped. When evaluating Axel’s potential, keep in mind that Axel is not even a year into this new character and that his last character was essentially doomed from the start. I think he should get a bit more leeway before being doomed.

Curtis Axel can be a key part of the WWE’s roster in years to come, but in order for that to happen, they’ll have to let him develop his character without Heyman’s presence at every turn–of course, Heyman will be there, but just not at every turn. If they allow that to happen, I think the Universe will see a more entertaining wrestler and also discover the potential in him that has been so often discussed.

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  • Staynes

    He needs seasoning for sure but in my opinion he also needs to change his looks and his entrance and what not when ever i see him entering an arena he just looks so bland and boring. HIs inring work is “great” but he looks so bland he talks so bland its just meh at the end of the day.

    • Jordan

      noo! dont change his entrance music… its so catchy! hahah. I would love a face turn though, call heyman out for neglect and pave his own way, I would like to see the IC title start to be noticed again, bring out those in the mid card that need a good push. It could do wonders if done right.

  • Trey Doss

    i think they need to make him have an unperfect gimmick or something that’s opposite of his dad

    • Abudadein

      His finishing move could be the Unperfect Plex, which ends up looking more like a sloppy, poorly executed double arm DDT, that never results in a pin.

      • Jordan

        I found that REALLY funny for some reason.

      • xXwindsofchangeXx

        You mean like the “double underhook what-the-f#$&-was-that”???

  • Iron Mike Sharpe

    Axel personality makes Chris Benoit seem like the Rock. And I was a big Benoit fan.
    I don’t think the booking committee can do anymore for him. He needs to either be a Benoit/Barry Windham clone and amaze folks with his wrestling ability (which he hasn’t so far) or do a 180 and find a fake personality to run with.

    He’s almost as boring as ADR minus the Hispanic background that the WWE wants to exploit.

  • Danny Morgan

    For me he’s just uninteresting to even be the IC champ, people like Wade Barrett need work on their characters etc but Barrett already has some charisma that could be extruded. To me Axel is fortunate to be Mr Perfect’s son otherwise he wouldn’t be where he is with the amount of persona that currently comes through.
    Not every talent that goes in a wwe ring is meant to or going to make it. I’m sure he deserves a good run but I think as mentioned in another post he needs to go with a strong work effic and great wrestle or technician specialist. he hasn’t the personality to pull off a fandango

    • Jay Ess

      Few people can pull off Fandango, and that makes me curious to see where they go with Fandango in the future. Jonny Curtis has immense potential just by sheer virtue of pulling off Fandango.

      • xXwindsofchangeXx

        True, true, but did Fandango getting so over hurt his career in the long run? I have a hard time believing that the Fandango character will ever make a credible champion at any level. If the gimmick hadn’t gone over well, it was still early enough in his career where they could’ve repackaged him and acted like the Fandango thing never happened. But now, if they want to re-package him into a guy that’s meant to be taken as a serious competitor, they’d try to bring him back and people would be Fandangoing in the middle of his matches.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that the Fandango gimmick is a little bit too gimmicky.

      • Danny Morgan

        He deserves to be given more match time and highlight his top rope leg drop finish which looks sweet. some important ppv matches or a meaningful feud is what Fandango needs, shame him and Y2J feud didn’t go longer.
        Better yet put the IC title on him, hasn’t he been in developmental for years?

  • Abudadein

    I agree with everyone here. Man, I wanted to get behind this guy so bad, but there’s no denying there’s something seriously missing. I would compare it to Bruno Sammartino and his son David, or Gene Kiniski and his son Kelly. David Sammartino and Kelly Kiniski both had some skills in the ring, but their fathers had more charisma in their baby toes than those boys did in their entire careers. Sadly, there was nothing anyone could do with them, and I’m afraid the same could be said for Curtis Axel. Like Ted DiBiase Jr., he will likely make a quiet exit and find himself another path in the not-too-distant future.

  • Reverend Scurvy

    I think his best bet might be a face turn. He feels like he’s being neglected by Heyman, so (after Ryback spears/powerbombs Punk through the cell at HIAC) Axel takes out Ryback and let’s Punk get his hands on Heyman. After he separates from Heyman, he can declare that it’s time to be himself, his own man using his own name and see where that takes him.

    • Abudadein

      That’s an excellent idea. Seriously, I think this may be the only way for Joe Hennig to possibly shine. Well done, Reverend.

    • Jay Ess

      Yeah, Axel seems like the type of wrestler who’s just naturally a good face. I will say he’s had goofy moments as a heel, such as during a promo when he tried to laugh condescendingly at an opponent and he came off like a high school jock.

      I don’t think all hope is lost for Axel. He’s been dull in promos, but I believe too much in the support of Triple H and the Rock for me to write him off.

  • JH

    I definitely see a face turn coming for Axel in the near future, with Heyman’s affinity for Ryback and his frustration with Axel lately, I’m hoping it’s leading to a Punk and Axel vs. Ryback and Brock match somewhere along the road to Wrestlemania. If it isn’t leading to a breakup in the near future I think his association with Heyman is going to do more harm to his character than good.

  • Sieg

    I’m not sure what it is but I think part of the problem is that Axel’s heel persona is too far away from his real life persona. I.e. they should look at Axel the non-performer and his characteristics and then take those negative traits and blow them up x1000. He’d probably feel more comfortable and come across a lot better as he’d be playing something more true to himself. An great example of this would be CM Punk as a heel, he’s really just being himself and turning the negatives up x1000, same thing could be said of Bryan as a face and even his paranoid, disillusioned heel character. I’d say the same thing about Dibiase, I think the guy would’ve been a major star had they allowed him to be himself instead of pushing him to be like his dad.

    Overall I’d like to see WWE allowing guys to be themselves only with the positives or negatives turned up loads. It gives guys more to work with as they working a character which is truly an extension of themselves and it also gives the character’s more depth and longetivity since we can delve into their motivations for doing what they do which in turn makes stories more engrossing. Obviously characters like Wyatt will still be needed but even then I question how far away that is from his real personality…even Fandango’s character carries some of the weirdo traits that the Johnny Curtis character had on NXT which makes me think at his core the guy genuinely is a weirdo XD lol

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