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Ryback teaming with Paul Heyman is what's best for business ... and what's worst for Curtis Axel

After debuting as a one-dimensional Goldberg clone, Ryback has been able to do something that Curtis Axel hasn't, and that's evolve as a performer, both in the ring and on the mic.

I guess Paul Heyman isn't holding a grudge against Ryback, despite getting Shell Shocked (eventually) by the big galoot prior to the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view (PPV) last October.

Forgive and forget, and all that jazz.

Besides, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, which explains why Ryback is the latest (and possibly greatest) "Paul Heyman guy." You can argue that CM Punk is the better wrestler, as well as the better talker, but he was a bona fide star without his sleazy manager.

Same goes for Brock Lesnar.

Despite random interview gems like "Paul, say something stupid" (watch it again here), Lesnar will typically lay an egg on the stick. Heyman fills in that gap and complements him as a performer, but he doesn't make or break him as a character.

He makes Ryback.

Before he hooked up with Heyman at Night of Champions, I despised his new "bully" gimmick. Not just because it flew in the face of the organization's "Be a Star" campaign, but because it had no rhyme or reason. He was just clomping around backstage, intermittently beating the snot out of the arena's ancillary staff.


But take that same shtick and couple it with Heyman's shit-eating grin and you have villainous gold. Their combined performance on Monday Night RAW was a home run, and I went from rolling my eyes to marking out in just one episode. Consider their follow-up Tout (see it here) a victory lap.

This new tandem is great!

Unless, of course, you happen to be Curtis Axel, who may need the best of luck in his future endeavors. I wouldn't go so far as to say that WWE will release him by year's end, but when the music stopped last night in Cleveland, Axel was the only one who couldn't find a chair.

And the poor bastard was doomed from the start.

Axel was announced as Heyman's newest lackey in some sort of bizarre coronation earlier this year, before being instantly buried by Triple H. To compound the problem, there was really nothing to cite in terms of why Heyman would align himself with the artist formerly known as Michael McGillicutty.

The onus was on Axel -- real name Joe Hennig -- to sink or swim.

His shaky promo skills were forgivable in the beginning, but after a couple of months, the "Well, he's a good worker" defense started to wear thin. Even embroiled in a feud with CM Punk, Axel was unable to establish himself as a legitimate presence.

You've either got it, or you don't.

I don't want this to turn into a public stoning of Axel, because having chemistry with a performer -- or with fans -- is not something you can wake up and put on your daily to-do list. If it's not there, it's not there, and I'm cynical enough to wonder if WWE put him in this elevated position just so they could look around at one another, shrug their shoulders and say, "Hey, we tried."

Not hard enough.

I feel kind of guilty, too, because I love this new pairing of Ryback and Paul Heyman, even if it comes at the expense of another wrestler's push. Axel still has the Intercontinental championship and it's a little early to start writing his obituary, but there is no way you can look at the post-RAW reaction for "Heyback" and feel good about the future of Curtis Axel.

Even if it is ... BEST FOR BUSINESS.

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