WWE Superstar Curtis Axel on Restoring The Intercontinental Championship Belt's Prestige
Like in many tight-knit clans, Curtis Axel decided to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather by going into the family business. In this case, however, the family business happens to involve kicking much ass inside a wrestling ring.
Courtesy of WWE WWE Superstar Curtis Axel
The 33-year-old WWE superstar, who's real name is Joe Hennig, is the progeny of professional wrestling royalty. Both his pops (the late Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig) and grandpa (Larry "The Axe" Hennig) are widely considered to be legends in the business. It's certainly given Axel some big boots to fill, a fact that we discussed with him during a recent phone interview promoting WWE Raw's upcoming appearance at US Airways Center next month.
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Axel says that he hopes to both escape the epic shadows cast by his dad and granddad while honoring the family's legacy and earning his own esteem in the business. And last month, he took a first step toward doing so after winning WWE's Intercontinental Championship, a title that was won by his dad back in the day. Hence, the victory had great significance to the wrestler and (perfectly enough) happened on Father's Day.
Axel told us that he'd love to bring prestige back to the secondary title as a fighting champion while becoming the WWE's latest breakout character. On Sunday night, Axel's character lived up to his claim by successfully defending the belt at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Axel plans to do more than just that in order to succeed at his goal, including picking the brain of his onscreen manager (and esteemed wrestling guru) Paul Heyman and even getting ideas for cutting interviews and promos from country music (!).
Oh, and by the way, he'd prefer it if WWE fans would completely forget about his previous ring name, Michael McGillicutty.
You won the WWE's Intercontinental title last month at Payback. How did it feel to win a championship that's most commonly associated with your dad during his heyday as Mr. Perfect?
I'll tell you what: I wasn't even supposed to be in that match. It was supposed to be Fandango. He unfortunately got a concussion so I was his replacement. And the whole week leading up to that match at Payback, that was going through my mind: being the first father and son ever to hold the Intercontinental Championship and just the emotions that were probably going to go with it if I were to win.
The week leading up to that was pretty crazy, and when I finally did win it, there were a plethora of emotions there. I know that my dad was smiling down at me. And knowing that, unfortunately, I never got to stand in the ring with him, but now I have a chance to stand in the record books with him.
Plus, it's the old school Intercontinental belt design that he wore.
Yeah. It's white [leather], but it's the same design, not the circle thing they had before.
Did he ever bring home the title belt and let you wear it?
Oh, yeah. I was trying to rummage up some pictures. I know I have one somewhere of me with that same title holding it around my waist. He'd bring it home and I got to wear it. I have two boys and they're doing the same thing. It's starting all over again.
pic.twitter.com via @RealCurtisAxel Like Father, Like Son: Curt Hennig (left) and Curtis Axel.