‘Double A’ Arn Anderson has enforced the reason as to why Curtis Axel, the son of Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig, did not make it in World Wrestling Entertainment.
When the real life Joseph Hennig made his WWE debut in 2010 as Michael McGuillicutty, smart fans worldwide immediately knew that the star was the offspring of the late, great Mr. Perfect. However, a run with Nexus and time in NXT didn’t yield the results Hennig or fans required and in 2013 the star was repackaged.
Though he wasn’t called Hennig, Curtis Axel – a variation of his father’s first name and his grandfathers nickname – used a version of his father’s iconic theme tune and utilised an adapted method of the famous Perfect Plex. Making an almost immediate splash, Axel looked destined for greatness when he defeated Triple H via knockout and secured back-to-back victories over WWE Champion, John Cena.
On June 16, 2013, just one month after his re-debut, Axel looked unstoppable under the tutelage of Paul Heyman when he picked up where his father’s WWF career left off and captured the WWE Intercontinental Championship from The Miz and Wade Barrett at Payback. The only place from here was…well, down actually.
Instead of rising through the ranks and reaching the main event position which his father flirted with, Hennig was demoted to tag team competition with fellow Paul Heyman guy, Ryback, after dropping the Intercontinental Championship to Big E. From there, it was a steady freefall through the ranks which took in pitstops as a member of the doomed Social Outcasts and the creation of the forgettable, AxelMania.
Now, former WWE Producer, Arn Anderson, has taken to his ARN podcast to detail why Hennig didn’t live up to expectations in the company, putting it down to the fact that the promotion all but ignored his immediate link to Mr. Perfect:
“Well, that kid could work. Under any circumstances, he could work. Now, what sounds bigger to you? Joe Hennig or Curtis Axel? Why not let a guy, and that’s the problem with second-generation wrestlers. When you have a dad or a grandad, for that matter and you are third-generation, they have all achieved great things in this business. Why not build on that? Day one, walking out of the gate, this is Joe Hennig, son of Mr. Perfect, and that’s who he is. Day one. You don’t want to tell people he is somebody else with a different name and that whole flimsy excuse that well, he is never going to be as good as his dad, so it’s going to hurt him. Bulls**t.
Let’s say my dad is John Wayne, and I’m in a cowboy movie, and let’s see how I do. We’re going to have a lot more jumpstart, more interest. That was one of the mistakes because the guy had talent, and he just did, but when you start him as someone else, you are always digging a hole. You let Heyman manage him for what had to be a very short time, right? It’s almost like, in the audience’s mind, ‘Well, Heyman gave up on the guy, the guy must not have all the things that it looks like he had. But the guy was very talented, and you have to bring him in; when you have new talent, you have to bring them in and introduce them as stars. If the company doesn’t look at them as stars, the audience is not going to look at them as stars. I think that was the biggest mistake that was made with Joe.”
During his last years with the company, things arguably got worse for the former WWE Intercontinental Champion when Axel was placed with Bo Dallas in The B-Team and The Miztourage, a role so far below his capabilities it was frustrating to see how far he’d fallen.
Curtis Axel was released from his WWE contract on April 30, 2020, as part of the company wide COVID-necessitated talent exodus which saw the likes of Rusev, The Revival and many more depart the company.
Credit for the interview: The ARN Podcast
h/t for the transcription: Sportskeeda