Is Curtis Axel better than 'Perfect'?
The meteoric rise of Curtis Axel reached a major milestone at WWE Payback, when the up-and-coming Superstar captured the Intercontinental Championship in a whirlwind Triple Threat Match. The emotional moment was also a significant one, particularly because it happened on Father’s Day. Axel won the same title that his WWE Hall of Fame father, “Mr. Perfect,” once held in his grasp, marking the first time that has ever happened in WWE history.
But could Axel actually be better than his legendary dad? A rare opportunity to compare the time surrounding the two Superstars’ first Intercontinental Title victories may, show that the answer is, in fact, yes.
Since joining forces with Paul Heyman and rechristening himself with a variation of his father’s and grandfather’s names (“Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig and Larry “The Axe” Hennig), Curtis Axel his quickly established himself with victories over the likes of current WWE Champion John Cena, 13-time World Champion Triple H and 6-time World Champion Chris Jericho.
While Axel’s father, “Mr. Perfect,” would go on to have an awe-inspiring career after capturing that same Intercontinental Championship, before that night, things were not as perfect as people have come to believe. Like his son, the ambitious Curt Henning rechristened himself, reemerging in WWE with the new moniker “Mr. Perfect.” While he managed to maintain a perfect record for over a year, he only once defeated a World Champion during that time - a count-out victory over then-WWE Champion Hulk Hogan. While it is worth noting that “Mr. Perfect” also defeated future champion Bret Hart, his monumental return showdown against The Hulkster on “Saturday Night’s Main Event” resulted in a disappointing loss by pinfall for the surging Superstar.
One can also look at the way the Intercontinental Title was first captured by both father and son. Axel defeated two Superstars at the same time – the entering titleholder, Wade Barrett, and the highly decorated former WWE Champion, The Miz. Though “Mr. Perfect” defeated two-time Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana, the title was officially vacant at the time, which means he never had to battle a reigning champion to claim the illustrious title.
There’s also the question of management. No one can argue with the wisdom of “Mr. Perfect” aligning himself with future WWE Hall of Fame manager, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. While that no doubt gave “Mr. Perfect” additional prestige, even fewer fans could deny that the Superstar already knew how to win prior to their alliance.
On the other hand, when Curtis Axel became Paul Heyman’s client, his performance in the ring instantly improved. This is evident by looking at two matches against Sin Cara in close proximity to each other. The week before aligning with Heyman, then-Michael Mcgillicutty lost to the highflier on “WWE Superstars.” But, once he gained Heyman’s guidance and refocused himself as Curtis Axel, the third-generation Superstar defeated the gravity-defying competitor on SmackDown in short order and set out to take WWE by storm.
Now, Curtis Axel has the potential to become greater than his legendary father, “Mr. Perfect.” And with his momentum showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon, Axel’s journey to immortality could prove flawless as well.