How has this all gone wrong? We’ve got a third-generation performer – Joe Hennig, son of Curt Hennig and grandson of Larry Hennig. Surely, his forefather’s charisma and ring work would find their way to young Joe, right? Oh, if only…
Joe Hennig came to the WWE in late 2007 under his own name and things seemed to be going par for the course – winning titles both tag team and eventually the FCW Heavyweight title while there. Then, the roof fell in.
He surfaced on the newly-christened “NXT” on Sci-Fi as…wait for it…Michael McGillicutty (!?!?!?!) Really? REALLY? Whoever came up with the name should be forced to legally change their own name to it and keep it for life. Both Husky Harris (?!?! again) and Hennig ended up in “The Nexus”. He couldn’t get over and, after some time, he was ultimately sent back to developmental to be repackaged.
Earlier this year, Paul Heyman told us on “Raw” that he had a brand new “Paul Heyman Guy” and it turned out to be Mr. Hennig – this time renamed Curtis Axel. This is far less awful of a name so we could be thankful for that. I saw him and thought, “Michael McGillicutty…great” but I was willing to give it a chance to work. Clearly, Vince and Triple H felt similarly as Triple H himself even showed up to get him over. After this, he started winning matches. Sin Cara and even John Cena were fed to him in an effort to get him over. Did it work? No, not even a little.
So what’s the deal? Why is Axel not over despite everything? For one thing, any time he is asked to talk, he’s a total bore – unable to put across the simplest talking point with any organic conviction. Of course, the “talking” thing isn’t a big deal. He has Paul Heyman and he can do all the talking. Sadly, that’s not all that’s wrong. On top of his talking issues, he also completely lacks charisma. Put simply, no one cares about him. He gets almost no reaction coming to the ring and his ring work doesn’t get much reaction either. During his feud with CM Punk, only Punk & Heyman mattered. Of course, this is mostly by design but one would imagine Axel would get some kind of rub from this…and he did; he just had no clue what to do with it. Noticing the issue, they get the equally-uninteresting Ryback involved and the result is the same. The audience only cares about Punk & Heyman. Heyman’s feud with Punk was blown off at the “Hell In A Cell” pay-per-view and Ryback is reduced to ashes on the following “Raw”. As for Axel? A hip injury on the previous “Raw” takes him out of the aforementioned pay-per-view and no one yet knows how all of this will play out.
So where to now? Well, Axel has been an absolute and complete failure; there can be no question of this. I am not as high up on his ring work as many are. WWE has far better workers (Bryan, Orton, Ziggler, Ambrose, Reigns, Rollins, Goldust, Cody Rhodes and others) an all of the workers I’ve mentioned have more charisma in their eyelashes than Axel has in his entire body. Only time will tell if Mr. Hennig will be able to get it together. I do not wish failure upon him but, at this point, it just isn’t looking good. If Triple H, Paul Heyman and CM Punk can’t get you over, something is seriously wrong. Even strapped as the WWE Intercontinental Champion, he simply doesn’t matter.