After falling into obscurity in the latter part of 2012 and into 2013, Joe Hennig—now Curtis Axel—has the potential to be the greatest up-and-coming superstar in recent memory after being paired with manager Paul Heyman.
As serendipitous as Axel is, success is no guarantee, but he definitely has an advantage over every superstar on the roster. Notable exceptions are CM Punk, Brock Lesnar and The Shield—all of whom have been associated with Heyman.
Heyman has a knack for working with talented wrestlers and making them huge stars. By now, most fans have already correlated the successes of CM Punk and Brock Lesnar with Heyman. However, that success rate is slightly skewed. There have been instances where the Heyman bump has not worked as planned.
One superstar who Heyman was unable to put over is Matt Bloom, who fans knew as Brodus Clay's disco-dancing heavyweight partner Sweet T. Bloom. He had several other gimmicks throughout his career, one of which was introduced by Paul Heyman—A-Train. That did not go over well, even after pairing A-Train with Brock Lesnar and Big Show.
But Axel has none of the unique gimmicks that Bloom had.
His last character was Michael McGillicutty, who was part of the Nexus stable. Yet he was entirely forgettable given his bland name and WWE's reluctance to reference his family's rich wrestling history. His family history alone is enough precedent to propel him to the top of the WWE roster, but it never happened with the McGillicutty character.
Now as Curtis Axel, a portmanteau of sorts that pays homage to his father and grandfather, he has that opportunity.
His debut match's ending was questionable, since the focus was on Triple H and not Axel's wrestling abilities, but he's in good hands.
In the ring, Paul Heyman will mentor him. Behind the scenes, Triple H likes his potential—which is why his first contact with a WWE superstar as Curtis Axel was against Triple H. He has done everything right so far, even helping The Rock prepare for this WrestleMania match.
If Paul Heyman's managerial skills are not enough to put this superstar over, then the good graces of executive vice president of talent and live events Triple H might be enough to do it.