Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow & Brian Damage
The WWE roster is filled with “superstars” at every level. There are the main roster guys who regularly appear on Raw and SmackDown, those who are used as glorified jobbers and those who are barely used at all. In this series of pieces, we will take an individual wrestler barely used and decide if they are worth keeping or should they be let go. Today we decide if we Book or Cook Curtis Axel.
Craig: It’s a topical follow up to the recent ‘Book or Cook?‘ that looked at Damien Sandow. After all, we mentioned there about the Hulk Hogan scandal rocking Sandow and forcing him to ditch the Macho Man pastiche that saw him tag with Axel.
It’s not been the easiest run for the former Michael McGillicutty. Repackaged as Curtis Axel – a play on both his father and grand-father – and made a Paul Heyman guy it could have been the start of something decent. But, despite a short-lived IC title run, it became yet another attempt to push Curt Hennig’s son that led to nothing.
Now, I’m not sure they haven’t exhausted attempts. You can’t blame him for the Axelmania stuff not working out – that became a victim of the Hogan stuff but is there really anything that the WWE can do with Axel? I’m in two minds. Would you book or cook?
Jamie: I got nothing I’m afraid. He’s a good wrestler, I just don’t find him very interesting or engaging. That said, so far he has either been generic heel or Hogan parody. When I say “generic heel” I really mean it. I don’t know how much input the guys get into their character, but if they are told exactly what to do then this poor guy has been saddled with lemon after lemon. I can only imagine that his instructions from creative were; “you’re name is a Michael McGillicutty and you’re a bad guy”. Followed by; “you’re now Curtis Axel, bad guy and son of Mr Perfect.” What else did we learn about him? Thus, I can only assume that was all he was told. Either that, or if a degree of creative license is afforded then he did absolutely nothing with it.
I was going to suggest a ‘wrestling machine’ type gimmick. With that beard and his ability in the ring he could easily pull it off. Problem is, Cesaro fills that void and is much more engaging than Axel has proven to be. For me, I say cook him.
Brian: I must interject and disagree with everyone wholeheartedly that his Axel Mania stuff didn’t work. In my opinion, it did and he actually showed some great personality doing so. I didn’t like when he parodied Hulk Hogan…but his original stuff after the Royal Rumble was truly entertaining.
Can he get back to that point? Absolutely! It’ll just take a little effort from WWE creative. Curtis Axel is a true technician in the ring and has shown flashes of charisma. While Curtis may be better suited for NXT or Ring of Honor at this point…I still say if given a chance…he could develop into something pretty good as a mid carder. I say book him!
Craig: I didn’t say that the Axel Mania didn’t work. But I do think those sort of parody gimmicks are fairly short lived. I agree with much that’s been said, he is a good technical worker and probably could get another chance. But I can think of many workers on WWE contracts that are better in the ring and more charismatic than Curtis Axel that haven’t had the chances he has had.
I think sticking him with Heyman perhaps was one of the worst things that could happen to him. You would think on paper it would be good for anyone but the crowd reaction showed just how little the fans believed him being a ‘Heyman guy’. Not sure there will be that many more chances available to him…
Jamie: I’m with Craig here. His schtick about still being in the Royal Rumble was funny, but it was never going to go anywhere. The New Day come out every week and cut entertaining promos, Axel just cut the same funny promo several times. If Axel were a new guy entering the scene with a serious technician gimmick then I would be inclined to give him some slack. The problem is he’s been around the block so many times that I just don’t take him seriously anymore. If I don’t take him seriously then he could still be a comedy jobber guy, but even then I find the likes of Heath Slater and even Damien Sandow more entertaining.
It’s mainly not his fault due to how he has been booked, but nothing draws me to Curtis Axel. He’s a jack of all trades performer, but the ship has sailed on his opportunity to master one.
Craig: I concur. It’s a cook from me.
You can read all previous ‘Book or Cook?’ pieces here.