So, Joseph Curtis Hennig is now "Curtis Axel."
I know that, because WWE told me it was so on Monday Night RAW. I also know it's a "great name" and I "gotta love it," because ringside commentator Jerry "The King" Lawler told me what to think and feel. Last but not least, we had a big formal presentation from Paul Heyman to let us know that yes, Curtis Axel is now "a Paul Heyman guy."
Now, if you could just sign here ...
But wait, I thought he was Michael McGillicutty? Or as my kid puts it, "that guy I saw once on NXT." When Hennig lumbered down the ramp in Kansas City, I was shaking my head. Then I was complaining. I wasn't the only one, mind you, and our own Groucho Mrosko was telling the IWC to get off his lawn.
Lower that double-barrel, Walt.
I'm no spokesperson for the Association of Sniveling Smarks (A.S.S.), but I do think a lot of people who were bemoaning last night's segment (watch it again here) didn't have it out for Curtis Axel. In fact, quite the opposite. My initial reaction was, "It's about fucking time."
My issue, was with the way it was presented.
Why the hell would Paul Heyman want this guy? WWE offered its fans no context, no point of reference. There was no big win on Wednesday night's Main Event, no recent squash of Kofi Kingston on Saturday Morning Slam. Not even a quick tout to explain why he's a new man going by a new name.
Nothing, nada, zip.
Keep in mind this was not an up-and-coming talent who was new to the program. We've seen him as Michael McGillicutty over the past few years and he's been included in some pretty significant angles involving John Cena and Randy Orton.
Heck, I would have settled for a slick, two-minute video package just before he hit the ramp. 120 seconds of exposition and boom, we're done.
Instead, he just shows up with a new name and the right to call himself one of Paul Heyman's guys, putting him up there with the likes of CM Punk and Brock Lesnar and instantly feuding with Triple H, one of the biggest names in THIS BUSINESS.
Based on what?
People change names and gimmicks all the time in wrestling, that's not the issue. But this isn't like he went from "Mankind" to Mick Foley, or "The Ringmaster" to Steve Austin. He went from Michael McGillicutty to Curtis Axel in one fell swoop.
Basically, the WWE re-gifted Hennig and then tried to convince us what a great new thing we had on our hands.
Maybe we do, maybe we don't.
I like Hennig. I liked his father, too. I'm glad he's getting a big push, but I think he was the victim of poor, or at the very minimum, lazy storytelling. Part of the reason I like Paul Heyman is because he was, and to some degree still is, a symbol of anti-establishment.
Real or perceived, I like that gritty feel of counterculture he brings to WWE programming.
There was nothing gritty about last night's debut and there sure as hell wasn't anything about it that felt organic. It was WWE indirectly telling us that Joe Hennig was no longer Michael McGillicutty, that he was now Curtis Axel and a heel to be reckoned with because he's in the bad guys club.
"Okay fans, we're doing this now, instead of that, please react accordingly."
When I get told what to do, or how to act, or what to feel, I usually rebel and do the opposite. I like to make up my own mind instead of having it made up for me. You know, that whole anti-establishment thing. That's why I'm a fan of everyone and everything attached to Paul Heyman.
Well, most of the time.