It can't be classified as a completely missed opportunity just yet, but WWE's handling of Curtis Axel is fast becoming one.
Ever since Axel was attacked by Erick Rowan at the Royal Rumble—preventing him from competing in the match—he has created a new dynamic to his character on the microphone.
Axel went from claiming he had never been eliminated from the Royal Rumble—which was basically true—to creating "Axelmania." Playing off many of Hulk Hogan's old catchphrases and mannerisms, Axel seems to have really connected with the audience. Just listen to it when he comes out.
On top of being entertaining as a speaker, Axel is a very talented in-ring competitor. Being the son of the late Curt Hennig will do that.
But what is the point of Axelmania if he is going to lose every match? Why does WWE insist on making comedy acts out of stuff like this?
Axel has suffered two losses to new WWE Superstar Neville, and at WrestleMania 31, he was the first man eliminated from the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal when the rest of the competitors ganged up on him and tossed him out of the ring.
Prior to WrestleMania, he wasn't winning matches either.
So where will Axel go from here? Looking at past history with WWE, probably nowhere. Axel will likely continue on this path until people don't care about Axelmania anymore. His career will likely take a very similar path to that of Zack Ryder.
Ryder was able to catch on with the fans, but WWE almost refused to cast him in a bigger role. Only when the cheers became too loud to ignore was he given a push.
Ryder became United States champion, but it's hard to even remember that. Sounds a little like when Axel was Intercontinental champion, doesn't it?
After Axel aligned himself with Paul Heyman, he was able to collect victories over the likes of Triple H, Chris Jericho and John Cena. This all led to him winning that Intercontinental title. It seemed then, and still does now, that WWE didn't see Axel as a main event-level Superstar through.
Perhaps Axelmania could lead him back to that spot. There are plenty of fresh, entertaining matches and feuds that Axel could have. However, it has to start with him racking up wins.
Having Axel come out and say, "Whatcha gonna do when Axelmania runs wild on you?" only to get beaten in every match will stop being entertaining very quickly.
WWE has a talented third-generation Superstar who is only 35 years old. He still has a bright future in front of him—one that WWE needs to recognize and take full advantage of.
His career should rival that of the one his father put together. The former Intercontinental and United States champion was never viewed as a comedy act.
Axelmania should be running wild, on to much bigger and better things in WWE.