Why is Curtis Axel in WWE?


Continuing what we hope will one day become a hit television or podcast series, we ask why is Curtis Axel still in WWE?

WWE employs several men and women who seem to be little more than time fillers for the weekly RAW and SmackDown marathons. If the company wants to improve their ratings and tighten up their programming, perhaps it should look into sending some of these wrestlers out to pasture. This week, we take a look at Joseph Curtis Hennig, AKA Curtis Axel.

Being a third generation professional wrestler carries an enormous amount pressure to succeed and is no guarantee of success. There have been plenty of legendary athletes who had their legacies essentially ended by their underwhelming offspring. Thankfully, most of us have already forgotten the lackluster performances from the likes of Brett DiBiase (son of Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase), Shaul Guerrero (daughter of Eddie Guerrero), and Lacey Von Erich (daughter of Kerry Von Erich).

Some of you may view my choice of Curtis Axel as unfair considering he’s not a completely terrible wrestler. To be fair, the only man who probably had more pressure to succeed in the wrestling business was Ted Dibiase, Jr. and even he couldn’t step out from beneath his famous father’s shadow. The same goes for Axel, who had a steep hill to climb considering his dad’s infamous persona as Mr. Perfect. Carrying on the legacy of such a charismatic and beloved superstar is tough, but Axel chose to follow this path and he knew the risk of failure was high.

The simple fact is that his work on the main roster has been average at best but mostly forgettable. His biggest accomplishment would be his 155 day run as Intercontinental Champion with Paul Heyman as his manager in 2013. This was a time dominated by much bigger names of the day including CM Punk and The Shield. Axel is probably most known for his antics following the 2015 Royal Rumble where he was attacked on the entrance ramp and thus unable to compete in the match. In the weeks that followed, he began a campaign where he declared himself “the true winner of the Royal Rumble” (since he had not technically been eliminated) and would routinely interrupt matches to demand a title shot against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31. This angle started the hashtag #AxelMania and would come to represent the apex of his popularity in WWE.

A short-lived comedy partnership with Damien Sandow (where they cosplayed as caricatures of Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan while calling themselves “The Meta Powers”) was followed by an equally short run in The Social Outcasts alongside fellow mid-card purgatory residents Heath Slater, Adam Rose, and Bo Dallas. This stable had potential as a group of neglected misfits with giant chips on their shoulder and could have been proven effective and menacing if used properly. Instead, they served as little more than slapstick fodder for up-and-coming stars like Baron Corbin and Enzo & Cass.

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With the final pick in the 2016 WWE draft, Axel was sent to RAW and given the nickname “Mr. Irrelevant” which – intentionally or not – refers to more than just his place on the draft board. The pop he received back in October 2016 when he turned face against Bo Dallas owes more to the show being in his home state of Minnesota than the WWE Universe actually caring about him. Besides, when the company who employs you bestows such a dismissive nickname, perhaps it’s a sign that you should look for a job elsewhere. I hear there are several openings over at TNA.