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Wrestling / Curtis Axel

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Joseph Curtis Hennig (born October 1, 1979) is an American professional wrestler who worked 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 two time WWE/Raw Tag Team Champion, with David Otunga (although this reign was under his Michael McGillicutty moniker) and Bo Dallas.

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.

In April 2020, he was released from WWE due to budget cuts that stemmed from the COVID-19 Pandemic. He hasn't wrestled since.

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

  • Aborted Arc: His "Axelmania" gimmick (along with a "Meta Powers" gimmick with Damien Sandow as "Macho Mandow") was dropped when WWE severed ties with Hulk Hogan over his racist remarks.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of Hulk Hogan at one time. No, seriously.
  • 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!"
  • The Brute: Since Michael Tarver left, he and Husky Harris have taking the role of it for Barrett, doing his dirty work.
  • Bumbling Henchmen Duo: As part of the Miztourage with Bo Dallas, the two being a pair of bungling cronies to the Miz.
  • The Bus Came Back: Resurfaces after Extreme Rules 2013 under the new name, Curtis Axel.
  • Butt-Monkey: He spent the vast majority of his feud with Punk losing... and that was just the beginning. Nowadays, he's barely on TV, and usually when he is, he's either getting his ass kicked or something humiliating is happening to him, like getting eliminated from a battle royal in comically short order, or trying to use Loophole Abuse to claim that he's the rightful winner of a Royal Rumble several months after it ended, or being the last superstar drafted in the latest brand extension (and we mean period - even behind TV jobbers and announcers.)
  • 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 (the technical name is Enzuinote  or Northern Lariat.)
  • Demoted to Extra: After the fall of Nexus, he had a short run with the tag titles with Otunga, before losing them to Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston, and then very brief feud with Jerry Lawler, before going back to NXT, and was repackaged as Paul Heyman's client, Curtis Axel. After a few feuds including an IC Title run and a short pairing with Ryback, he was sent back to NXT. The 2015 Royal Rumble changed all of that thanks to Axel's insistence he never got eliminated and eventually becoming Axelmania.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The infamous Genesis of McGillicutty promo from WWE NXT, bordering on an unintentional Overly-Long Gag. To quote the line in full:
    Axel: And starting this moment... from now... from this moment on... this'll be the moment... starting now... of the genesis... of McGillicutty...
  • Didn't Think This Through: What did Axel honestly think was going to happen by trying to ambush all three members of The Shield by himself on the 10.17.17 RAW?
  • Fat and Skinny: The Skinny to Husky Harris's Fat.
  • Finishing Move: The McGillicutter / Turning Heads, a running swinging neckbreaker.
    • As Axel, he's had three: The "Axehole" hangman's facebuster, the Perfect-Plex in homage to his father, and, during his "AxelMania" gimmick, a "leg drop of doom" that mimiced Hulk Hogan's famous leg drop finisher.
  • 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 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.
    • He's become a lot more distinctive after the 2015 Royal Rumble. He never entered the ring, so he technically never went over the top rope. He's now insisting that he was never eliminated from the Royal Rumble and has become a delusional Hulk Hogan impersonator, complete with Axelmania.
  • Hoax Hogan: In 2015, after being eliminated from Royal Rumble before entering the ring, Axel received a lot of supports of fans and even fellow wrestlers. After that event, he created an angle of being "the real winner of Royal Rumble", since he wasn't eliminated of the fight, which leaded to his own trend as #Axelmania. After becoming face, he continued the trend posing as Hulk Hogan, also making team with his friend Damien Sandow (posing as "Macho Mandow") as "The Meta Powers" (parody of The Mega Powers). Sadly this won't last so much since few months later the real Hogan was kicked out for "saying the n-word", ending with the Hogan/Savage expies.
  • 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. His theme and some of his moves are also a homage.
  • 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.
  • Legacy Character: Deconstructed; he really, really, really wants to be Mr. Perfect, and it wasn't helping him. Reconstruction, after returning as Curtis Axel.
  • 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 still tagged together for a while before quietly splitting up.
  • Power Stable: A member of The Nexus back when he was Michael McGillicutty.
  • Rearrange the Song: His entrance theme is a reworking of his father's Mr. Perfect theme song.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The serious, businesslike Michael and the wilder, more energetic Harris.
  • The Sixth Ranger: By virtue of not being in NXT season 1, he came late to The Nexus.
  • Tag Team:
  • 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, until Bray Wyatt's WWE Championship run. Axel is easily the most successful rookie off of his season (although a certain bearded fellow is considered to have surpassed him due to frequent brushes in the main event scene).

Alternative Title(s): Michael Mc Gillicutty, Joe Hennig