Curtis Axel has been on a high since debuting as Paul Heyman’s newest client in WWE. He has scored victories over Chris Jericho, Triple H and even WWE champion John Cena. Now, he is heading for a triple threat match at Payback on June 16 for the Intercontinental Championship.
And he’s winning the belt.
I don’t often go out on a limb and make such predictions on a match. It’s been my experience that such speculation rarely leaves you any wiggle room and if you’re wrong, then you end up with egg on your face later.
But in this case, I’m fairly confident that my face will remain relatively egg free.
Axel’s WWE career since adopting his new moniker may not exactly be the stuff of legend thus far but the fact is that the company seems committed to giving him sufficient air time to work. Heyman speaks for him quite a bit in promos and when confronting other Superstars, but Axel has not remained silent.
And his work in the ring has been fairly impressive, as he has more than held his own up to this point. He does seem to be on the right track to becoming the next big thing in Vince McMahon’s company.
What better way to help elevate him even higher than giving him the Intercontinental Championship? To be honest, I felt this was a move that had to happen at some point for Axel. After all, the belt itself has traditionally been used as a springboard in the past for up and coming Superstars on their way to greatness in WWE.
Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and The Rock are just a few names who wore the IC belt as a precursor to becoming WWE champion later on. They proved their mettle in the ring, defended the title on a regular basis and eventually won the company’s top prize when the time was right.
The keyword here is eventually.
This is where some fans may criticize the possibility of Axel becoming Intercontinental champion at Payback. Axel has only been Heyman’s client for a few weeks now and has had no real rivalries since he began.
Perhaps winning the belt now would be too soon.
But considering that the current IC champ Wade Barrett has not been presented as a dominant titleholder—and Fandango is out of the match with a concussion—Axel is in the best place to take the gold.
Of course we cannot forget about The Miz, who has been doing all he can to get over since turning babyface. He is the third man in the triple threat at Payback and has proven in the past that he is more than capable of being a relevant champion.
However I personally do not see the championship going back to Miz right now. I think that WWE is very confident in Axel’s ability to succeed and perhaps sees the perfect opportunity to keep advancing him upward.
Speaking of perfect, we also cannot forget about the fact that Mr. Perfect, Curtis Axel’s father, was a very talented Superstar and one of the best Intercontinental champions of all time. While Axel is not his father by any means, the truth is that WWE may very well be drooling at the opportunity to put Curt Hennig’s title belt around his son’s waist.
Giving Axel the championship now is only a rushed deceision if he is not mentally and physically prepared for it. If he cannot carry the belt with confidence and continue to keep working hard in what he does, then he will fail no matter when he wins the title.
And Axel is not a brand new WWE Superstar either, he has done this before. His past as Michael McGillicutty is well known by fans and he was very accustomed to being on TV during that time. For WWE to do the work to repackage him and present him with Paul Heyman means that they believe he is now ready to take the next step.
The Intercontinental Title will be good for Axel, it will help elevate him and he could actually help elevate it, depending on the feuds and storylines that WWE builds around him. The stronger he is, the stronger the championship will be. If it’s done right, it will be a great move.
Curtis Axel’s rise in WWE could take yet another step when he faces Wade Barrett and The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship at Payback on June 16. While some fans may feel it’s too soon for Axel to win, I believe there is no better time than now.
In fact, it could be perfect timing.