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Wrestling: Curtis Axel

Joseph Curtis "Joe" Hennig, born October 1st, 1979, is a professional wrestler currently working for WWE as Curtis Axel. He debuted in 2010 in the second season of WWE NXT as Michael McGillicutty, where he was the runner-up, and later joined The Nexus. After the Nexus angle had run its course, he and Otunga still tagged together, as they were the Tag Team Champions during the demise of The Nexus, until they lost their Tag Team titles to Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston, and he returned to NXT.

Two years later, he returned with a new look and a new ring name, Curtis Axel, with Paul Heyman as his manager. He quickly surged to relevance by capturing the Intercontinental Championship, joining his father as the only father/son pair to have held the Intercontinental Championship.

He is a one time Intercontinental Champion and a one time WWE Tag Team Champion, with David Otunga (although this reign was under his Michael McGillicutty moniker).

In 2008, Pro Wrestling Illustrated named him "Rookie of the Year," ahead of fellow third-generation wrestler Brett DiBiase, second-generation wrestler Richie Steamboat and Ryan McBride.

The other Wiki has more details about his career.


To apply to me, these Tropes have to be better than perfect!

  • Alliterative Name: Michael McGillicutty
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • As a "Paul Heyman" guy, CM Punk.
    • With Tyson Kidd. Sadly this was only showcased on NXT, but their feud was about how Kidd wasn't a second or third generation wrestler and how he hung out with the Harts.
  • Badass Boast: "To beat me, you have to be better than perfect!"
  • Beard of Evil
  • Breakup Breakout: Zigzagged with his former tag-team partner, David Otunga. After they lost the titles, Otunga was granted a high level of TV exposure (some would say overexposure) as John Laurinitis's stooge and occasional in-ring worker, while McGillicutty (whom most judged to be the more talented performer) was sent back to NXT for nearly two years. By 2013, though, Otunga was hardly on TV at all, and Axel had a lengthy reign as the Intercontinental Champion and aligned himself with the highly visible Paul Heyman.
  • Butt Monkey: He spent the vast majority of his feud with Punk losing.
  • Demoted to Extra: After he and Otunga lost the Tag-Team titles, he all but disappeared from Television. While Otunga aligned himself with John Laurinaitis, Michael ended up (back) on NXT, then after a stint there, was repackaged as Paul Heyman's client, Curtis Axel.
  • Fan Nickname: On the relaunched NXT fans have taken to calling him "The Shah of NXT" due to the fans in the Full Sail Arena love of chanting "Sha!" during his matches based on a noise he makes when throwing punches.
  • Finishing Move: The McGillicutter / Turning Heads, a running swinging neckbreaker.
  • Five Moves of Doom: Already as Axel, he's used several "legacy" moves that his father and grandfather used, including Curt's rolling neck snap and Perfect-plex.
  • The Evil Genius: During his time in the New Nexus.
  • The Generic Guy: Tends to be tagged with this brush, unfortunately - despite his obvious wrestling skill, his persona just doesn't stand out much. This was the main reason he was aligned with Paul Heyman.
  • Genre Savvy/Combat Pragmatist: The running lariat is probably one of the most dodged moves in professional wrestling. Axel's one of the few in-universe to figure this out and use it to set up a follow-up lariat to the back of an opponent's head (technical name is Enzunote  Lariat.)
  • Homage: His new name is a combination of his father's first name (and by extension, his own middle name) and his grandfather's nickname.
  • It Runs in the Family/Wrestling Family: Both with his father, "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig; and grandfather, Larry "The Axe" Hennig. His sister is also a professional wrestler.
  • Odd Friendship: With Ryback. They were both Paul Heyman's clients before Brock Lesnar became more important. One would think they would go their separate ways, but no, they are still tagging together.
  • Power Stable: The Nexus
  • Rearrange the Song: His entrance theme is a reworking of his father's Mr. Perfect theme song.
  • The Runner Up Takes It All: Kaval was released 4 months into his NXT victory. Axel is the only contestant from NXT season 2 to have won singles gold — or any gold, for that matter. Axel is easily the most successful rookie off of his season (although a certain bearded fellow may surpass him very soon on push alone).
  • Underwear of Power

Kia StevensTurnOfTheMillennium/Professional WrestlingSasha Banks
Mike AwesomeProfessional WrestlingBob Backlund

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