Curtis Axel had himself a relatively successful showing on the latest edition of Monday Night Raw. Playing up to his hometown crowd, gently name-dropping his bloodline in attempt to get himself over, it was one of the few moments of his career when the third-generation wrestler got sincere reactions from the WWE Universe.
Then again, as the match itself actually started to play out, it was his more charismatic opponent, Bo Dallas, who started to hear the crowd chant his name. By the end of the bout, the crowd was still more leaning towards Axel, but it was far more split than one would hope for a “hometown boy” facing a heel.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Axel. Long touted as being one of The Rock’s favorite guys, coupled with a built-in background (his family) that should have long ago forced a mega-push onto him, he’s failed at nearly every turn throughout his WWE career.
Not all of which is his fault. Save for his pairing with Paul Heyman, which fell flat for a variety of reasons, not all of which were in the talent’s control, he’s never received an earnest push. Instead, he’s been mostly relegated to glorified jobber status or a comedy act to the stars.
On the surface, it would make a person think the company should give him at least another attempt at relevance. Yet, that’s only surface level thinking, and this is more of a mixed-bag than anything else.
Not everyone can be pushed to the moon. It is something we regularly fail to realize while trotting about the Internet Wrestling Community. We will say that Vince McMahon is failing when booking the likes of Axel, or Dallas, or Neville, or Sami Zayn, and not realize that there’s only so many spots near important angles.
Not everyone can headline the same WrestleMania. Literally.
What about the fact that other people in similar situations as Axel — Heath Slater, Dallas, etc. — have been able to (relatively speaking) overcome bad gimmick after bad gimmick to find some level of success?
That’s not to say Axel should be buried or forgotten. It’s just to highlight the obvious — that there must be something missing with him. While it’s likely a combination of a ton of things, it probably boils down to him being just slightly above average in nearly every area, but excelling in none.
Axel is a solid worker. He is unspectacular, however. He’s more than decent with the words coming out of his mouth as well. Still, not only do they often hit-or-miss, but he seems too reliant upon needing a certain situation to cut an engaging promo, such as the one he had on Monday night.
Also Axel is already 37. While that’s not ancient in the realm of pro wrestling, it is by no means young. For some context: Dallas is 26, The Miz 36, Dean Ambrose 30, Seth Rollins 30, Randy Orton 36.
That’s right. Our currently not-yet-over Axel is an entire year older than “The Viper,” which seems silly when you think about it, but does highlight how crazy hard it would be to get the former over at this point, as too many already established guys are younger, or — as it is with Orton and ilk — older and winding down their careers.
In the end, I’m of the belief of giving him one last chance at relevance. At the very same time, though, it is completely understandable if the WWE looks at his age, sees a track record of iffy success behind him, and instead focuses its efforts on getting a younger, talent who has more potential over.
After all, that’s what this “feud” with Dallas feels like. Two talented guys who got lost in the shuffle. Not a ton separates the two in terms of talent outside Dallas’ elite-level mic skills. Given that, with age likely playing a key factor, it would make sense to go with Bray’s baby brother as the wrestler needing — and, even deserving — this push more.
If Axel wants to be taken seriously, or receive another mini-push from the WWE, he’s going to have to force the company’s hand by organically getting over. Outside of that, there’s no legitimate reason to give a limited 37-year-old a push when there’s just too many other, younger talents waiting for the same thing.