Curtis Axel is the newest Paul Heyman project.
And there’s no doubt that Heyman can help make almost anyone a star. Just in his time in WWE, he’s helped Brock Lesnar, The Big Show and CM Punk reach new heights of fame.
Look at his time in ECW and you can see the man can work near miracles.
The question WWE has to ask itself, though, is: Will Axel be Heyman’s next Lesnar or his next Heidenreich?
It’s far too early to declare this a failure, but Axel’s first two weeks haven't been too encouraging. HHH wasted no time treating him like a child and hogging the spotlight for himself. Then, during his match with John Cena, a brawl in the crowd got more heat than their in-ring action.
That doesn't mean he won't be a star, but things aren't off to a hot start.
Axel, the former Michael McGillicutty, hasn’t shown a clear sign of an “it” factor that guys like The Rock, Steve Austin or his father, Mr. Perfect, had in spades. He's a former Tag Team champion, after all, so this isn't our first look at him.
Actually, McGillicutty is perhaps most notorious for cutting one of the worst promos of all time with this gem.
While Axel may not end up being a bad choice as Paul Heyman’s next client, here are five better ones to have a chance at success:
Sara Del Ray would immediately make an entire division relevant if she teamed up with Paul Heyman.
Del Ray signed with the company almost a year ago as a trainer but could add a much-needed dose of athleticism to the ailing Divas division.
Much like Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Antonio Cesaro and CM Punk, she’s gained a lot of her experience in Ring of Honor. She's well respected by hardcore fans and would stand out in a good way.
With six hours of prime-time TV to fill every week, boosting the Divas division into a watchable television product should be a high priority for the company.
That single pairing could end up doing more for the WWE than pairing Heyman with any male wrestler.
Del Ray doesn’t fit the typical look of a WWE Diva, but that’s part of what makes her great. WWE didn’t care that Chyna didn't fit the bill of a traditional Diva, and she ended up having a successful career. Just let Del Ray mow through the competition, and let Heyman do all the bragging.
Right now, there's very little for fans of women's wrestling to get excited about in WWE. Bringing The Bellas back wasn't exactly a step in the right direction. But bringing Del Ray and Heyman together could be groundbreaking.
Ohno is another talent who has spent more than a year in WWE developmental. Unlike Del Ray, he will probably make the main roster someday.
The guy already knows how to wrestle, as he proved time and time again in ROH as Chris Hero. He was one-half of the Kings of Wrestling along with current WWE star Antonio Cesaro.
He’s got the look and the ability. He just needs an opportunity.
Instead of adding an underutilized and thus far pretty forgettable character in Axel to Heyman's side, it could have been more interesting to bring in someone new. It's going to be hard to forget Axel's run as McGillicutty, whereas bringing in some new blood wouldn't have that problem.
Expect Ohno to make his debut sooner rather than later, but this wouldn't have been a bad spot to have given him.
Wade Barrett is a year younger than Curtis Axel, has a better look, displays more confidence and can cut better promos.
He also already has some main event experience in big storylines.
The only thing he seems to have in common with Axel is how underutilized and directionless he has been the past couple years.
If Barrett wasn’t jobbing every week, he could already be a big player in the company. WWE doesn't know what to do with him, though, and seems to only use him to fill up TV time without any character progression.
Last year, WWE had a short storyline where Paul Heyman owed Barrett a favor. That was quickly forgotten. It would be easy for the company to pick it back up again with the two forming an alignment. Maybe the favor could be Heyman helping Barrett win a major title.
Ryback has the look that WWE management loves, but he may not yet have developed the mic skills necessary to keep his top spot.
Paul Heyman, on the other hand, has those mic skills in spades. The man could probably make The Three Man Band look like a group of killers.
Heyman could help the crowd perceive Ryback as a legitimate main eventer. While Ryback has shown signs of progressing on the mic in front of a live crowd, he seems lost on occasion. It's almost as if he needs time to think about what his lines are.
WWE shouldn't bother with that for now and let someone else do the talking. Keep Ryback's promos short and to the point.
He could be Heyman's next monster, and he would be there full time.
Future tag matches with Ryback and Heyman's other client Brock Lesnar could be a lot of fun to watch, and they would make plenty of money. The two could split up down the road, ultimately leading to a big showdown.
WWE desperately needs some new stars, and Ryback has the potential to be one, but right now he could use all the extra help he can get.
Kofi Kingston is boring.
Not his in-ring work, but his current character is about as stale as you can get.
He’s a four-time Intercontinental champion, a three-time US Champion and he’s held the Tag Team titles three times as well. The only thing he hasn’t done has risen up the card since his debut.
And the only thing we seem to know about him is that he likes to smile.
Kofi first won the Intercontinental Title from Chris Jericho at Night of Champions 2008. This was less than four months into his debut. On May 19 of this year, he lost the United States title. His entire career has been winning secondary titles every now and then and losing them unceremoniously.
Things just keep going in circles for him.
Aside from a brief feud with Randy Orton, Kofi hasn’t been placed in a star-making position.
Perhaps more so than anyone else on the roster, his character needs a shake-up. A shocking moment that would get people talking would be an alliance with Heyman.
Like others on this list, let Heyman do the talking. But it would be a good test to see what Kofi has in him. He's only 31 years old, and we know he can go in the ring, but it's time we actually learn something about him.