When WWE puts together its first edition of the Payback pay-per-view, the company must save space for Curtis Axel to shine and have him demolish his opponent for his push to work.
John Cena and Ryback's ambulance match for the WWE title will be front and center, as will other big stars looking to extract revenge on their foes, but this event needs to be a showcase of Axel as well.
Paul Heyman choosing him as his newest client has had people talking about Axel more than ever before in his career. A mostly one-sided win in the bright lights of a WWE pay-per-view will help him continue that initial momentum.
Since changing his name from Michael McGillicutty to this current mash-up of his father's first name and his grandfather's nickname, Axel is 2-0. He boasts a victory over Triple H (after The Game couldn't finish the match) and a pinfall win against Sin Cara.
For WWE to successfully transition Axel from the man fans knew him as before, the unmemorable tag team champ and Nexus member, to a bona fide star, the company is going to need to refashion him.
Convince us he's a threat to the rest of the roster. Erase the memories of him floundering on WWE's lesser shows and replace them with an impressive beatdown of some unlucky Superstar. A win on the Payback stage is a good first step.
Ryback had folks forgetting all about Skip Sheffield after he clobbered foe after foe. He made his pay-per-view debut on Extreme Rules 2012, defeating two jobbers. One year later, he was challenging for the WWE title at the same event.
There's no need to revert to unknown local athletes to get Axel over, but a handful of similarly dominant victories are WWE's best bet to push Axel forward. Watching Axel dismantle his Payback opponent with hard-hitting clotheslines, dropkicks and neckbreakers can make him look like a daunting force.
In the weeks leading up to Payback, Axel is sure to get a few wins over WWE's bottomfeeders, but a pay-per-view win is a bigger deal, even if it is just a win over Zack Ryder or Santino Marella. Payback doesn't have the prestige of WWE's more established events, but a multitude of eyes will be zeroed in on the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., on June 16.
For the man now known as Axel to have a successful new beginning, he needs those eyes to see him overwhelm an opponent and have Heyman lift his hand in celebration of his first pay-per-view win.
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