He debuted in WWE in 2010, joining The Nexus under the ring name Michael McGillicutty alongside Husky Harris where the two briefly were a tag team. Not long after Harris would leave the stable and get sent back down to their developmental territory. Wade Barrett would be expelled from the Nexus; with CM Punk taking over the reigns as leader of the Nexus and christened them the New Nexus and every single member had to earn themselves their spot within the ranks and McGillicutty earned his by taking a beatdown from each member of the team being hit with their finishing move. After that McGillicutty would go on to form a tag team with fellow New Nexus member, David Otunga.
He had previously wrestled at their developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) where he was a former FCW Florida Heavyweight Champion as well as a former three time Florida Tag Team Champion with three different partners (Heath Miller, Brett DiBiase and Kaval). McGillicutty was part of the second and fifth seasons of WWE NXT. In 2011, Hennig won the WWE Tag Team Championship with David Otunga as a member of The New Nexus. During their reign, the New Nexus disbanded in July, however McGillicutty and Otunga remained together as tag team partners, this lasted until August 2011 when the two were defeated by Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne, collectively known as Air Boom ending their reign at 91 days.
After mostly competing on WWE Superstars, WWE Main Event along with WWE NXT; in June 2013 Hennig made his return to the main roster under his current ring name, paying tribute to his father "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig and his grandfather Larry "The Axe" Hennig. He was revealed as the newest client of Paul Heyman and christened the newest "Paul Heyman Guy" with Heyman becoming his adviser and manager, while also effectively joining Paul Heyman's team in the GM Wars storyline.
Professional wrestling careerEdit
World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE (2007–present)Edit
Florida Championship Wrestling (2007–2010)Edit
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.
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 FCW Florida Tag Team Championship. On October 30, Hennig and Slater lost the Tag Team Championship to The New Hart Foundation (DH Smith and TJ Wilson).
On November 20, Hennig challenged Sheamus O'Shaunessy for the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship but it 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. Hennig defeated Escobar on February 26 at a TV taping and won the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship. 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.
After recovering, Hennig made his return to FCW in late June. 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. On March 13, The Fortunate Sons lost the championship to The Uso Brothers (Jimmy and Jules). 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. At an FCW event on April 29, DiBiase faced Hennig again, but suffered a knee injury during the match, ending their feud. On July 15 Hennig, now using the name Michael McGillicutty, teamed with Kaval to win the tag team titles for the third time from Los Aviadores (Hunico and Epico). The following day, on July 16, Los Aviadores regained the championship.
NXT and The Nexus (2010–2011)Edit
Hennig took part in the second season of NXT, using the ring name Michael McGillicutty, with Kofi Kingston as his pro. He made his NXT debut on the June 8 episode, but did not compete in a match. 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. In the first poll on June 29, McGillicutty was ranked third, behind Kaval and Percy Watson. 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. On the following episode of NXT, he moved up to first place in the second poll. After six consecutive victories, McGillicutty suffered his first loss on the August 3 episode of NXT, when he was defeated by pro The Miz. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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. Despite this, Barrett confirmed both he and Harris were members on the October 25 episode of Raw.
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. 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. The angle was used to write McGillicutty off television as he was scheduled to be sent back to Florida Championship Wrestling to be repackaged. 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.
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. They made their only successful title defense against The Usos on the July 29 edition of SmackDown. 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. On the August 22 episode of Raw, Otunga and McGillicutty lost the Tag Team Championship to Air Boom (Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne). 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 WWE Superstars and WWE NXT shows. 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). In late 2011, McGillicutty and Alex Riley had a series of matches on Superstars which Riley won 2-1. On the February 23, 2012 episode of Superstars, McGillicutty defeated Riley, which would be his last televised win on a non-NXT show until he was repackaged as Curtis Axel in June 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.
Meanwhile, McGillicutty made his return to NXT, appearing from January 2012 on the fifth season NXT Redemption, but not as a Rookie. In late February 2012, McGillicutty mocked Tyson Kidd's lack of wrestling heritage, starting a feud on NXT Redemption. McGillicutty then beat Kidd on the February 29 episode of NXT Redemption. McGillicutty continued to insult Kidd by claiming that Kidd would never be a true 'Hart', and Kidd received a rematch on the March 21 edition of NXT Redemption, where he defeated McGillicutty. Kidd and McGillicutty faced off in a third match on the April 11 episode of NXT, resulting in Kidd triumphant over McGillicutty. McGillicutty then formed an occasional team with Johnny Curtis for the rest of 2012. On the final episode of the fifth season of NXT on June 13, Curtis and McGillicutty lost to the Usos.
After the conclusion of NXT Redemption, NXT transitioned into the renamed Florida Championship Wrestling developmental territory. McGillicutty continued appearing on the rebooted WWE NXT, losing to rival Tyson Kidd on the first episode on June 20. McGillicutty then pinned Kidd in a six-man tag match on the July 4 episode. Two weeks later, McGillicutty's and his occasional partner Johnny Curtis defeated Bo Dallas and Derrick Bateman. 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. However, McGillicutty was eliminated in the semi-finals on August 15 when he lost to eventual tournament winner Seth Rollins. On the next episode, Kidd heaped more misery on McGillicutty as he and Gabriel defeated Curtis and McGillicutty, but on the September 12 episode of NXT, McGillicutty gained revenge by defeating Kidd to become the #1 contender to the NXT Championship. On the October 10 episode of NXT, McGillicutty lost the title match to champion Seth Rollins. 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.
In 2013, McGillicutty turned face (but only within NXT), saving Bo Dallas from a beating at the hands of Primo and Epico. On the next epiosde, Primo and Epico defeated Dallas and McGillicutty, but Dallas and McGillicutty had the last laugh 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. 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).
Curtis Axel (2013–present)Edit
On the June 24, 2013 episode of Raw, Hennig was repackaged under the ring name Curtis Axel, where he would reveal himself as another "Paul Heyman Guy" thus joining Team Heyman. The name is a derivative of his father's first name, Curt, and his grandfather Larry's nickname "The Axe".
Hennig is a third generation professional wrestler; his grandfather Larry "The Axe" Hennig, and his father Curt Hennig, were both professional wrestlers. His sister Amy is also a professional wrestler. He has two other siblings, a sister named Kaite and a brother named Hank. Hennig and his ex-wife have a son, Brock, who was born in June 2009. Hennig divorced from his wife in September 2011 and has been dating Jennifer Morris; an American model since January 2012. He enjoys ice fishing and fantasy football. He won WWE Magazine's Fantasy Football League for the 2011 NFL season.
- Perfect-Plex (Bridging fisherman suplex) – adopted from his father
- Running one-armed swinging neckbreaker – 2010–present
- Snap DDT – 2013–present
- Belly to back suplex
- Clothesline to the back of his opponent's head
- Diving axe handle elbow drop
- Diving crossbody
- Rolling neck snap, sometimes from the second rope – adopted from his father
- Saito suplex
- Sliding clothesline
- Snapmare driver
- "We Are One" by 12 Stones (October 25, 2010–July 21, 2011; Used while a part of the Nexus)
- "This Fire Burns" by Killswitch Engage (January 17, 2011–July 11, 2011; Used while a part of the New Nexus)
- "Death Blow" from VideoHelper Production Library (July 21, 2011; Used while teaming with David Otunga)
- "All About the Power" by S-Preme (July 11, 2011–August 22, 2011; Used while teaming with David Otunga)
- "And the Horse He Rode in On" by Reluctant Hero (October 6, 2011–May 16, 2013)
- "Reborn" by Jim Johnston (June 24, 2013–present)