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Curtis Axel

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Curtis Axel
Curtis Axel WrestleMania 32 Axxess.jpg
Axel in March 2016
Birth name Joseph Curtis Hennig
Born (1979-10-01) October 1, 1979 (age 36)[1]
Champlin, Minnesota,
United States[2]
Residence Minneapolis, Minnesota,
United States[2]
Alma mater North Hennepin Community College
Children 3
Family Curt Hennig (father; 1958–2003)
Larry Hennig (grandfather; b. 1936)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Curtis Axel[3]
Joe Hennig[4]
Michael McGillicutty[3]
Billed height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)[3][2]
Billed weight 228 lb (103 kg)[3]
Billed from Minneapolis, Minnesota
Champlin, Minnesota[3]
Trained by Curt Hennig[4]
Brad Rheingans[2]
Harley Race[5]
Debut July 13, 2007[4][2]

Joseph Curtis "Joe" Hennig[4] (born October 1, 1979)[1] is an American professional wrestler and actor currently signed to WWE, where he performs on the Raw brand under the ring name Curtis Axel. Hennig debuted in WWE in 2010, joining The Nexus under the ring name Michael McGillicutty. He had previously wrestled at their developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) and was part of the second season of NXT. In 2011, Hennig won the WWE Tag Team Championship with David Otunga as a member of The New Nexus.[6] In May 2013, Hennig reignited his career under his current ring name, paying tribute to his father "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig and his grandfather Larry "The Axe" Hennig and won the Intercontinental Championship.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

World League Wrestling (2007–2008)[edit]

Hennig made his professional debut on July 13, 2007 in Waterloo, Iowa for World League Wrestling (WLW), teaming with Ted DiBiase Jr. to defeat Dinn T. Moore and Branden Tatum by disqualification.[4][2] Hennig later went on a nine-month winning streak in WLW before suffering his first singles loss to "Wild" Wade Chism.[2]

World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE[edit]

Florida Championship Wrestling (2007–2010)[edit]

Hennig as one half of the FCW Florida Tag Team Champions in 2010

On March 31, 2007, Hennig along with his mother, siblings, and his grandfather represented his father "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig at the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony by accepting the award on his behalf. On the October 26, 2007 episode of SmackDown, Hennig teamed with Steve Fender in a loss to Jesse and Festus.[7]

Hennig signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment and was assigned to its developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). On September 11, 2008, Hennig and Sebastian Slater defeated Nic Nemeth and Gavin Spears to win the Florida Tag Team Championship.[4] On October 30, Hennig and Slater lost the Tag Team Championship to The New Hart Foundation (DH Smith and TJ Wilson).[8]

On November 20, Hennig challenged Sheamus O'Shaunessy for the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship, but the match ended in a double disqualification. A rematch was made, but Hennig was again disqualified. Hennig had another chance to win the title on December 11 when he participated in a fatal four-way match for the championship, but Eric Escobar won the match and the title in the process. Hennig defeated Escobar on February 26 at a television taping and won the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship.[9] On the April 5, 2009 episode of FCW it was announced that Hennig had suffered a serious injury and therefore he had surrendered the Florida Heavyweight Championship.[citation needed]

After recovering, Hennig made his return to FCW in late June.[10] Soon afterwards, he formed a tag team with Brett DiBiase known as The Fortunate Sons. On January 14, 2010, The Sons won the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship by defeating The Dudebusters.[11] On March 13, The Fortunate Sons lost the championship to The Uso Brothers (Jimmy and Jules).[12] At the April 8 FCW television tapings, Hennig blamed DiBiase for the loss, and in a match at the tapings, the two fought to a double disqualification.[13] At an FCW event on April 29, DiBiase faced Hennig again, but suffered a knee injury during the match, ending their feud.[14][15] On July 15 Hennig, now using the name Michael McGillicutty, teamed with Kaval to win the tag team titles for the fourth time from Los Aviadores (Hunico and Epico).[16] The following day, on July 16, Los Aviadores regained the championship.[17]

The Nexus (2010–2011)[edit]

Main article: The Nexus

Hennig took part in the second season of NXT, using the ring name Michael McGillicutty, with Kofi Kingston as his pro.[18] He made his NXT debut on the June 8 episode, but did not compete in a match.[19] He made his in-ring debut on the following edition of NXT, teaming with Kingston in a tag team match, where they defeated Mark Henry and Lucky Cannon.[20] In the first poll on June 29, McGillicutty was ranked third, behind Kaval and Percy Watson.[21] On the July 20 episode of NXT, McGillicutty earned immunity from elimination in the next poll by completing an obstacle course in the fastest time.[22][23] On the following episode of NXT, he moved up to first place in the second poll.[24] After six consecutive victories, McGillicutty suffered his first loss on the August 3 episode of NXT, when he was defeated by pro The Miz.[25] On August 9, the rookies appeared in a six-man tag team match on Raw, in which McGillicutty teamed with Husky Harris and Alex Riley to defeat Lucky Cannon, Kaval and Percy Watson.[26] The following night on NXT, his team lost a rematch when McGillicutty was pinned by Kaval. In the next poll later that night, McGillicutty relinquished the first place ranking back to Kaval, slipping to second place.[27] In the season finale on August 31, McGillicutty ended the competition in second place, being beaten by Kaval. At the end of the show, McGillicutty turned heel by attacking Kaval with the other eliminated rookies.[28]

In October 2010, at Hell in a Cell, McGillicutty and Husky Harris disguised themselves as fans and interfered during the match between John Cena and Wade Barrett. This allowed Barrett to pin Cena and win the match, forcing Cena to join The Nexus per the pre-match stipulation.[29] McGillicutty's and Harris' identities were revealed on the following day's episode of Raw, though Barrett claimed he had not asked for their help and refused to make them full-time members of The Nexus.[30] The following week, McGillicutty and Harris interfered in a match between Cena and The Miz, costing Cena the match and prompting Barrett to give them the opportunity to win membership in The Nexus.[31] On the October 18 episode of Raw, McGillicutty and Harris were unable to earn a place in The Nexus when they lost to Cena and Randy Orton in a tag team match.[32] Despite this, Barrett confirmed both he and Harris were members on the October 25 episode of Raw.[33]

McGillicutty as part of The Nexus in December 2010, at the Tribute to the Troops event
McGillicutty as WWE Tag Team Champion

In January 2011, CM Punk took over The Nexus and had each of its members put through an initiation. McGillicutty passed his initiation, a beatdown from the rest of the group, and was allowed to remain a member of Nexus, alongside Punk, Harris and Otunga.[34] The following month, Punk was announced as the WrestleMania XXVII opponent for Randy Orton, and as a result, each member of The Nexus was scheduled to face Orton in the month prior to WrestleMania. McGillicutty faced and lost to Orton on the February 28 episode of Raw, and after the match Orton punted McGillicutty in the head.[35] The angle was used to write McGillicutty off television as he was scheduled to be sent back to Florida Championship Wrestling to be repackaged.[36] Despite this, McGillicutty returned on the April 11 episode of Raw with the other New Nexus members, preventing Orton from earning a WWE Championship match.[37][38]

On the May 23 episode of Raw, McGillicutty teamed with fellow Nexus member David Otunga to win the WWE Tag Team Championship from Kane and The Big Show with the help interference from fellow New Nexus members Ryan and Punk.[39][40] They made their only successful title defense against The Usos on the July 29 edition of SmackDown.[41] After CM Punk left the New Nexus when his WWE contract expired on July 17, Otunga and McGillicutty competed against Santino Marella and Zack Ryder on the August 1 edition of Raw without any Nexus gear or armbands, and with all Nexus logos removed from their TitanTron, effectively signaling the end of the New Nexus.[42][43] On the August 22 episode of Raw, Otunga and McGillicutty lost the Tag Team Championship to Air Boom (Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne).[44] After a minor feud with Jerry Lawler, the duo parted ways.

Return to NXT (2011–2013)[edit]

After his dissociation with Otunga, McGillicutty from late 2011 to mid-2013 would largely be confined to wrestling on the Superstars and NXT shows.[45][46][47] On the October 20 episode of Superstars, McGillicutty and Drew McIntyre lost a non-title match to the WWE Tag Team Champions Air Boom (Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne).[48] In late 2011, McGillicutty and Alex Riley had a series of matches on Superstars which Riley won 2-1.[45] On the February 23, 2012 episode of Superstars, McGillicutty defeated Riley,[49] which would be his last televised win on a non-NXT show until he was repackaged as Curtis Axel in May 2013, resulting in McGillicutty losing more than twenty non-NXT matches in a row, mostly on Superstars but also on WWE Main Event and WWE Saturday Morning Slam.[46][47][50]

Meanwhile, McGillicutty made his return to NXT, appearing from January 2012 on the fifth season NXT Redemption, but not as a Rookie.[51] In late February 2012, McGillicutty mocked Tyson Kidd's lack of wrestling heritage, starting a feud on NXT Redemption.[52] McGillicutty then beat Kidd on the February 29 episode of NXT Redemption.[53] McGillicutty continued to insult Kidd by claiming that Kidd would never be a true 'Hart',[54] and Kidd received a rematch on the March 21 edition of NXT Redemption, where he defeated McGillicutty.[55] Kidd and McGillicutty faced off in a third match on the April 11 episode of NXT, resulting in Kidd triumphant over McGillicutty.[56] McGillicutty then formed an occasional team with Johnny Curtis for the rest of 2012.[46] On the final episode of the fifth season of NXT on June 13, Curtis and McGillicutty lost to the Usos.[57]

After the conclusion of NXT Redemption, NXT transitioned into the renamed Florida Championship Wrestling developmental territory.[58] McGillicutty continued appearing on the rebooted NXT, losing to rival Tyson Kidd on the first episode on June 20.[59] McGillicutty then pinned Kidd in a six-man tag match on the July 4 episode of NXT.[60] Two weeks later, McGillicutty's and his occasional partner Johnny Curtis defeated Bo Dallas and Derrick Bateman.[61] On the August 8 episode of NXT, McGillicutty was inserted into the Gold Rush Tournament to crown the first NXT Champion, where he defeated Justin Gabriel in the quarter-finals.[62] However, McGillicutty was eliminated in the semi-finals on August 15 when he lost to eventual tournament winner Seth Rollins.[63][64] On the next episode, Kidd heaped more misery on McGillicutty as he and Gabriel defeated Curtis and McGillicutty,[65] but on the September 12 episode of NXT, McGillicutty gained revenge by defeating Kidd to become the #1 contender to the NXT Championship.[66] On the October 10 episode of NXT, McGillicutty lost the title match to champion Seth Rollins.[67] Then on the November 28 episode of NXT, Curtis finally cashed in his promised tag title shot from winning season four of NXT with McGillicutty as his partner against Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan), but Team Hell No won the match.[68]

In 2013, McGillicutty turned face (but only within NXT)[69] after saving Bo Dallas from a beating at the hands of Primo and Epico.[70] On the next episode, Primo and Epico defeated Dallas and McGillicutty,[71] though Dallas and McGillicutty would gain revenge when they defeated Primo and Epico in the first round of the NXT Tag Team Championship Tournament to crown the inaugural champions on the January 30 episode of NXT.[72] On the February 6 episode of NXT, Dallas and McGillicutty were eliminated in the semi-finals when they lost to the Wyatt Family (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan).[73]

Intercontinental Champion; RybAxel (2013–2014)[edit]

Axel as Intercontinental Champion in July 2013

On the May 20, 2013 episode of Raw, Hennig was repackaged under the ring name Curtis Axel, with Paul Heyman as his new manager. The name is a derivative of his father's first name, Curt, and his grandfather Larry's nickname "The Axe". Later that night, Axel wrestled Triple H in his re-debut match, which ended with a victory for Axel via knockout after Triple H suffered concussion-like symptoms and collapsed outside the ring.[74] On the May 24 episode of SmackDown, Axel defeated Sin Cara.[75] Over the next two weeks on Raw, Axel scored back-to-back non-title count-out wins over WWE Champion John Cena due to distractions and an interference by Ryback.[76][77] Axel defeated Chris Jericho with a roll-up after Jericho was distracted by CM Punk's music playing, but was attacked by him following the victory on the June 7 SmackDown.[78] Three days later on Raw, Axel defeated Triple H twice in one night when during their first match of the night Vince McMahon appeared and ended the match with Triple H losing by disqualification. Moments after, however, Triple H demanded the match be restarted, but - like the first time - McMahon came back and ended the match with a Triple H forfeit, despite Triple H having no such intentions.[79] On June 16 at Payback, Axel defeated Wade Barrett and The Miz in a triple threat match to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship, his first singles title in WWE. Axel's win saw him join his father "Mr. Perfect" as the only father-son pair to have won the WWE Intercontinental Championship.[80] Axel made his first televised title defense on the following episode of SmackDown, defeating Barrett in a rematch.[81] On the June 24 episode of Raw, Axel saved Paul Heyman's former client CM Punk from an assault by The Prime Time Players, at the request of Heyman and to the dismay of Punk.[82] This led to a tag team match the following week on Raw, where Axel won the match for his team after he tagged himself in following Punk delivering the Go To Sleep on Darren Young and pinned him for the victory.[83] Axel suffered his first loss since becoming Heyman's client on the July 8 episode of Raw, when he was pinned by Chris Jericho in a non-title match.[84] Six days later at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Axel defeated The Miz to retain the Intercontinental Championship.[85] Axel made another title defense on the following episode of SmackDown, defeating Chris Jericho.[86]

Former Paul Heyman Guys, Axel (left) and Ryback became a tag team in November 2013

Axel then feuded with CM Punk alongside Paul Heyman. Axel was set to team with Heyman in an elimination handicap match against Punk at Night of Champions. During the pay-per-view, Heyman begged Triple H to cancel the match, but Triple H refused, not only confirming the match, but making Axel defend his Intercontinental Championship against Kofi Kingston, who had beaten him twice. Axel would defeat Kingston and retain the title, but he would be eliminated by Punk later in the night, leaving Heyman alone to fight Punk by himself. Ryback would then later interfere in the match by slamming Punk through a table. On the September 30 episode of Raw, he was defeated by R-Truth in a non-title match, which gave him a title match at Battleground. On October 6 at Battleground he would defeat R-Truth and successfully retained the Intercontinental Championship. The next night on Raw, Axel teamed up with Ryback to face CM Punk and R-Truth. R-Truth picked up the victory for his team, pinning Axel. On the October 11 episode of SmackDown, Axel once again retained the Intercontinental Championship against R-Truth. At Hell in a Cell, Axel was scheduled to defend his title against Big E Langston, however the match was cancelled due to Axel's legitimate hip injury.[87] On the November 15 episode of SmackDown, Heyman ended his association with Axel after declaring that Axel is no longer a Paul Heyman Guy. Axel had his rescheduled rematch with Langston on November 18 episode of Raw, where Axel would lose the title to Langston, ending his reign at 155 days. At Survivor Series, Axel would challenge Langston to a rematch in a losing effort. Later, Axel formed a team with fellow former Paul Heyman Guy Ryback; the team was named 'RybAxel'.

On the December 6 episode of SmackDown, RybAxel would defeat WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust in a non-title match, earning themselves a shot at the WWE Tag Team Championship. At TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, RybAxel would compete in a Fatal 4-Way tag team elimination match for the WWE Tag Team Championship, but they were the first team eliminated by Rhodes and Goldust. At Elimination Chamber, RybAxel were accompanied to the ring by Axel's grandfather, Larry Hennig, in a losing effort against Rhodes and Goldust. On the March 28, 2014 episode of SmackDown, RybAxel, along with other tag teams, attacked The Shield under orders from Kane and were rewarded with a WWE Tag Team Championship shot on the WrestleMania XXX pre-show which they lost. On the April 14 episode of Raw, along with nine other superstars, they would attack The Shield again under orders from Triple H. On the April 28 episode of Raw, RybAxel would challenge The Usos for the WWE Tag Team Championship in a losing effort. RybAxel would continue their short feud with Cody Rhodes and Goldust from earlier in the year at Payback, which RybAxel won, before losing the rematch at Money in the Bank. Shortly after, Ryback took time off for surgery, leaving Axel to compete by himself. At Battleground, Axel competed in a 19-man battle royal for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship which was won by The Miz. On the November 6 episode of Superstars, Ryback, after returning from injury, would tell Axel that he needs to focus on his singles career, officially ending the team. On the November 28 episode of SmackDown, Axel competed in a 20-man Battle Royal for the WWE United States Championship in a losing effort.

On the December 18 episode of NXT, Axel would approach NXT General Manager William Regal, telling him that he "wants in", with Regal assuring Axel that he may have a spot for him in the future. On the January 8, 2015 episode of NXT, Axel was defeated by Hideo Itami.[88]

Various alliances and storylines (2015–present)[edit]

After Axel didn't participate in the Royal Rumble match, he began parodying Hulk Hogan

At the Royal Rumble, Axel was set to enter the Rumble match at #6, but was attacked by Erick Rowan on the entrance ramp, rendering him unable to compete.[89] Axel was defeated by Rowan on the following week's episode of Main Event.[90]

Axel then began an angle where he began referring to himself as "the true winner of the Royal Rumble", claiming that he still hadn't been eliminated from the match and that he deserved a shot at Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship as a result.[91][92][93][94] This involved Axel interrupting segments involving the likes of Dean Ambrose, John Cena and Rusev to protest his cause, and also led to Axel starting his own hashtag, #AxelMania. On the May 11 episode of Raw, Axel turned face when he shook hands with Damien Sandow (dressed as "Macho Mandow"), similar to the handshake of The Mega Powers when they formed a tag team.[95] After this, Axel began impersonating Hulk Hogan while teaming with Sandow.[96][97] The two were dubbed The Meta Powers.[98][99][100] The Meta Powers were defeated by the Ascension at Payback kickoff.[97][101] The Meta Powers interrupted The Miz's Miz TV with Daniel Bryan, at the Elimination Chamber kickoff show.[102] Axel and Sandow ceased their AxelMania and Macho Mandow imitations on July 24, after WWE fired Hulk Hogan and severed all ties with him. On the August 21 edition of Superstars, Axel returned to singles competition, defeating Adam Rose. On the September 30 episode of Main Event, Axel was defeated by newcomer Braun Strowman.[103] On the Special New Year's Eve episode of Smackdown, Axel announced his entry into the 2016 Royal Rumble.

The Social Outcasts in April 2016

On the January 4, 2016 episode of Raw, Axel turned heel when he, along with Heath Slater, Adam Rose and Bo Dallas, debuted a new stable and went on to assist Slater in defeating Dolph Ziggler, calling themselves "social outcasts".[104] On the January 11 episode of Raw, now billed as "The Social Outcasts", the group would face The Wyatt Family in a losing effort.[105] Axel would enter the Royal Rumble match at the #5 spot lasting one minute and eleven seconds before being eliminated by the debuting AJ Styles. On the January 28 episode of SmackDown, Axel would face Styles in a losing effort.[106] On the January 19 episode of Main Event, Axel and Heath Slater defeated The Dudley Boyz in a tag team match. On February 21, at Fastlane, Axel defeated R-Truth. On the March 17, 2016 episode of SmackDown, The Social Outcasts announced they will be participants in 3rd annual André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32, which was won by Baron Corbin.[107] In May, The Social Outcasts began filming The Marine 5: Battleground, taking them out of action.[108] The Social Outcasts returned on the June 27 episode of Raw, confronting Enzo Amore and Big Cass.[109] The following week on Raw, The Social Outcasts faced Enzo Amore and Big Cass in a losing effort.[110]

As a result of the 2016 WWE draft on July 19, Axel was drafted to the Raw brand, being the last pick for the brand.[111] The week after on Raw, Axel was nicknamed "Mr. Irrelevant" due to being the last draft pick for Raw. Axel then stated that they "saved the best for last", before he was defeated by a returning Neville.[112][113]

Personal life[edit]

Hennig is a third generation professional wrestler; his grandfather Larry "The Axe" Hennig and his father Curt Hennig were both professional wrestlers.[10][114] His sister Amy is also a professional wrestler.[4] He has two other siblings who are not wrestlers.[115] Hennig and his wife had a son, Brock, in June 2009.[10] In a WWE network original series episode of 'Table for 3', he admits that he has three sons. He enjoys ice fishing[116] and fantasy football. He won WWE Magazine's Fantasy Football League for the 2011 NFL season.[117]

Hennig graduated from North Hennepin Community College with an Associates of Science degree in business computer systems and management.[2]


Year Title Role Notes
2017 The Marine 5: Battleground TBA

In wrestling[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Axel as the Intercontinental Champion in 2013


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External links[edit]