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Wrestling / Curt Hennig

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One of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all time.
Absolutely perfect.

"You have just witnessed perfection."
Mr. Perfect, after winning a match

Curt Michael Hennig (March 28, 1958 – February 10, 2003) was a wrestler who debuted in the American Wrestling Association in 1981 after being trained by Brad Rheingans, Larry Hennig, and Verne Gagne at the promotion's training camp. He'd later debut for the WWF four months into his career and work their on and off until the early '90s, eventually developing his "Mr. Perfect" gimmick. He then left WWF behind, working for enterprises such as WWC, All Japan, New Japan and eventually winding up in WCW but was, and still is, counted among the best technical wrestlers in WWE history.

Among his in-ring achievements, he was a 1x AWA World Heavyweight Champion, a 1x AWA World Tag Team Champion w/Scott Hall, a 2x WWE Intercontinental Champion, a 1x WCW United States Heavyweight Champion and a 1x WCW World Tag Team Champion w/Barry Windham. Briefly competed in TNA when it was still a member of the NWA. He passed away in 2003 from acute cocaine intoxication. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007.

"These tropes are.... AB-SO-LUTELY PER-FECT!!!"

  • The Ace: A most certain Real Life case, since he proved to be, if not at professional grade, at least in great shape and seasoned enough to compete in bowling, golf, darts, billiards, baseball, and football.
    • As a face, his dexterity and swiftness were hard to match, and as the incredibly gifted technician that he was, could throw around any opponent with ease. All of this showing that "Mr. Perfect" is more than just a nickname.
    • Even as a heel, he usually won cleanly, and both the face and heel commentators would laud his immense technical wrestling talent.
    • Hennig was able to combine his on-mat savviness with his great promo skills to draw a lot of heat as the smug bastard who is not only better than you, but knows it and is more than happy to rub your nose in it.
  • Arch-Enemy:
  • Badass Boast: The ring name says it all. He was able to slip "perfect" into his promos in all manner of ways, always with utter conviction.
  • Calling Your Attacks: "Now, you're going to see a Perfect-Plex."
  • Canon Name: His real name was this at best for the vast majority of his Mr. Perfect gimmick.
  • Catchphrase: "I am what I say I am, and I say...I'm perfect."
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
    • In WWE, Hennig betrayed Flair (as his then-protegee), Razor Ramon, Lex Luger, and Marc Mero.
    • Likewise, in WCW, he did the same to DDP (his former manager at "The Diamond Exchange"), Flair (...YES, again!) and the nWo Wolfpac.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Mostly subverted for his first few years of the Mr. Perfect gimmick. While he had managers who would cheat on his behalf, Hennig rarely cheated himself.
  • The Con:
    • Mr. Perfect's eponymous "Perfect Hoax" back in 1996. For weeks, he stole Triple H's valets and caused him to lose numerous matches because of the subsequent distractions. Finally getting fed up with it, Triple H challenged the retired Hennig to a match; Hennig accepted. However, on the night of the match during an episode of RAW, Triple H ambushed Hennig backstage before the match and seemingly injured his knee, preventing him from continuing. Then-Intercontinental Champion "Wild Man" Marc Mero decided to fight Triple H in Hennig's place, putting his title on the line. In the match's climax, Triple H attempted to cheat using a steel chair, but Hennig ran in for the save and took the chair from Triple H... only to wallop Mero with the chair, allowing Triple H to pin him for the title. Afterwards, the duo revealed that the entire debacle was a plan to put the title on Triple H (and return him to a prominent stature within the company), while embarrassing Mero for stealing Sable from Triple H.
    • Mr. Perfect was a point man for another one just four years prior. He and Ric Flair orchestrated a plot to get the WWF Title back to Flair starting at Summerslam 92. Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior were both fan favorites, but also accused of selling out to Team Flair. Both Flair and Perfect liberally attacked both the challenger (Warrior) and the WWF Champion (Savage) during the match. Warrior won when Team Flair jumped the champion on the outside, but only by countout, meaning Savage was still the champion. Flair beat the Macho Man shortly after this to win the WWF title for the second time.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Too many to not scratch your head about between Curt and an old childhood friend of his, Rick Rude. Both of them were physically gifted men who excelled in every sport that they tried their hand in (boxing, judo, and arm wrestling in Rude's case), both of them got their most famous gimmick (a vain individual who loves to brag about it) in WWF, both of them suffered severe back injuries that cut their careers short, and both of them died by overdose.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Went undefeated from 1988 to 1990 in WWF to play up his "Perfect" gimmick. The streak ended rather anticlimactically with mid-carder Brutus Beefcake beating him to a pulp at Wrestlemania VI.
    • He had lost to Hulk Hogan at some house shows a few months earlier, but none of those were televised.
  • Demoted to Extra: As part of the nWo B-Team in WCW.
    • While recovering from a vicious back injury between '91 and '92, Hennig served as a commentator and as Naitch's "executive consultant."
  • Enemy Mine: Got so fed up with Bobby Heenan's treatment in late 1992 that, for the Survivor Series that year, he teamed up with former rival Randy Savage out of spite. They then won the match, and cemented the Mr. Perfect Heel–Face Turn.
  • Finishing Move/Suplex Finisher: The Perfect-Plex was almost impossible to kick out of, but these days it seems more like a Name of Power move.
  • Hired Guns: One of many brought into WWC by La Familia to defeat Carlito Colón for them, and temporarily successful.
  • Jack of All Stats: Hennig used a combo of power moves, more agile attacks, and submission holds in his arsenal. In a meta-sense, Curt also had great psychology, variety of moves, promo skills, and a great general charisma about him.
  • Jerk Jock: May have been the first notable one in professional wrestling since Buddy Rogers. His success probably led to Kurt Angle and Jack Swagger's gimmicks.
  • Large Ham: Maybe not to Hogan's or Savage's extent, but his promos were definitely ten pounds of cocky in a five pound bag.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Agility? He could hit missile dropkicks and jump over opponents. Strength? Once Perfect-Plexed The Big Show. Endurance? Could wrestle for long periods of time and put on great matches even with real injuries. (Remember, he wrestled through his Summerslam classic against The Hitman with a severe lower back problem.)
  • Loveable Rogue: In a time when nobody rooted for the bad guy, he was the asshole heel who was secretly admired by many fans. It's why his Face–Heel Turn was more seamless than others.

  • Meaningful Name: Hennig had a nearly perfect combination of technical skill and promo charisma that few other wrestlers could match then or now.
  • The Nicknamer: Coined Shawn Michaels' famous moniker, "The Heartbreak Kid." Interestingly enough, he was also the first to refer to Hunter Hearst Helmsley as Triple H.
  • Power Stable:
  • Rap Is Crap: The trope namer. In 1999, he and the West Texas Rednecks recorded a novelty country song called "Rap is Crap (I Hate Rap)" as part of their feud with the No Limit Soldiers. The Rednecks were meant to be the heels in this feud and the Soldiers the faces, but many WCW fans, mostly Southerners who hated rap and saw the Soldiers as bullies, sided with the Rednecks, to the point that their song even got some radio airplay.
  • Red Baron: "Mr. Perfect" was one of the many Red Barons used and abandoned by Jerry Stubbs, and was briefly Curt Hennig's Red Baron before becoming his official ring name.
    • At the very beginning of his career, he was named simply "Cool Curt".
  • Ricky Morton: He served this role in the AWA, taking a beating in the ring only for Scott Hall to save him at the last minute. Years later, Hall mentioned that Curt was so good at this role that fans would advise him to split from Curt, as he was "holding you down".
  • Signature Move:
    • His dad's finisher; "The Ax", a swinging running forearm smash.
    • When his opponent was sitting up in the ring, usually in a daze, Curt would run up from behind, somersault over the other guy while performing a "Cravate" and yanking the guy's head and causing a whiplash.
    • A pelvic swing from standing headscissors, giving his opponent a neck crank variant.
  • Tag Team:
    • (in AWA):
      • "Ax Attack", with his father, Larry "The Ax" Hennig. This tag team would continue across three different NWA territories.
      • "Gagne's Raiders", with Greg Gagne.
      • He was partnered with Scott Hall at the brand's tail end.
    • (In WWE):
  • Theatrics of Pain: He had the ability to make his opponents look much better than they were. This was probably why he was used more to put lesser talents over, rather than being a Main Eventer.
    • To be more specific, he was well-known for twirling in mid-air while taking powerful strikes (such as a clothesline). He also had his own variation of the "Flair Flip" that he would work into most matches, especially before his back injury.
  • The Trickster: In Real Life, Curt loved to prank people not unlike Owen Hart. Once he went to a party and crapped in the hosts' baby's potty and managed to convince them that their kid took an adult-sized shit.
    • Whenever he was part of a show that took place in a high school, he would test all of the padlocks on the lockers. If one came off, he would use it to lock the gym bags of two wrestlers who hated each other together.
    • Another one worthy of mention is when he put rubber bands over a couple of tube socks and shoved them down the front of his pants. Gorilla Monsoon, who was notoriously visually impaired, didn't realize it, so Curt came out and wrestled a job match with what appeared to be a huge boner. Needless to say, Vince McMahon was not happy about this and went to yell at Monsoon for allowing Curt to go out there like that. Curt promptly received a chewing out when he got backstage from an irritated Monsoon.
  • Ur-Example: For the technically gifted wrestlers who lacked an outlandish character (though that part wasn't really true in his case) but made up for it due to his skill, he along with Bret Hart were this during the wrestling boom in the mid/late 80's. In a time where most wrestling in the WWF all had to have some cartoony vibe to it, Curt's gimmick was grounded in just being really good at whatever he did, and he was able to be over with the fans due to witnessing how good he really was. Guys like Chris Benoit and AJ Styles based their wrestling gimmicks on how good they were at wrestling, just like how Perfect did.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: After turning face, he had this relationship with old adversary Bret Hart. They teamed together quite often, and bickered about who was better just as often.
  • Wrestling Family: Curt was the son of Larry "The Axe" Hennig, and later his own son Joe wrestled in WWE as Curtis Axel (formerly Michael McGillicutty of The Nexus). His daughter, Amy, is also a wrestler.
  • Wrestling Psychology: Having to face a guy proven so good in almost every sport he tried his hand in is quite a heavy demoralization to carry into a match in the squared circle.

Alternative Title(s): Mr Perfect


Perfect-Plexing the Giant

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