Curtis Axel Talks How He Got His Name, Training Rock For WrestleMania, Heyman

The following are highlights from a recent Carroll County Times Q&A with WWE Superstar Curtis Axel:

Did you have an input on your current ring name, Curtis Axel?

When I became Michael McGillicutty, ever since that point, I was throwing hundreds of names at them. And I’m sure Axel Curtis or Curtis Axel was in there somewhere. I was talking with a guy that works for WWE, Joey Styles, he actually brought that name up as one of the possibilities. But they didn’t want to go that route with me at first. They wanted to have me do my own thing and not even pay homage to anything to do with my family. Which, you know, is kind of nice, so I can try to do this on my own, and I tried to do the best I could with Michael McGillicutty without any TV time or whatever. But I’m sure that name was pitched as one of the hundreds I threw at them.

Any other memorable ones out of those hundreds you threw at them?

There were some ridiculous names. I just got sick of it. Most of them were Joe. Joe Able. Joe Mercer. Most of them were all Joe, you know? Able was one, I wanted to be Joe Able, like Cain and Abel, and try to do something with Kane. That was just one of them I kind of liked. I wasn’t really sold on any of them, I just wanted to get rid of Michael McGillicutty. That was my one priority.

Right before you came back as Curtis Axel, there was a picture that the Rock tweeted earlier this year, mentioning you were his workout partner when he was getting ready to face CM Punk and then I heard that you trained with Brock Lesnar before WrestleMania too. How did you end up working with them and what did you learn working with all-time greats like that?

The WWE office, they know they could trust me taking care of those guys. I was so honored. They flied me out to go train with the Rock and that guy is awesome. Training with him, he pays attention to every little detail and crowd reaction. The way he does his moves and he works, it’s so fluid. It’s amazing the way he thinks and the way he works. And just picking his brain, he actually spent time with me and asked me what I did in the ring and different moves that I did, where I could place them to get more reaction from the people and all this kind of stuff. Just picking that guy’s brain, for me, was just unbelievable. I was so honored to be picked to go up there and train with him. And then Brock Lesnar, my god, that guy is a beast. I actually, I’ve known him for many years because he started with Brad Rheingans also, in Minnesota training with my dad, so him and my dad were close friends and all that stuff, so I kind of knew him anyway, so he could trust me and he knew he could help me because my dad helped him, and he likes to give back. He’s been up and down on this road back in the WWE for a little bit now. He’s been in my head, and he’s a Paul Heyman guy, and it’s cool to spend time and have him critique little things that I’m still doing and give me some advice. So it’s pretty sweet dude.

You mention you’re both Paul Heyman guys. How’s it been working with Paul Heyman? Do you guys travel on the road together and talk shop often?

Oh yeah. He’s a genius man. He’s been around the business for years and he’s like an encyclopedia. He tells me stories, like AWA stories when he was with my dad. That’s actually how we kind of got talking because there was a pitch out where he was actually going to manage my dad in AWA but it never went through, so I’m like, “well, why don’t you start with me?” And he was like, “yeah, yeah.” He’s like Brock Lesnar and the Rock you know, I can pick his brain and the guy is unbelievable on the microphone and he’s unbelievable when it comes to the ring psychology. He’s an evil genius and I couldn’t ask for a better guy to travel with and just pick his brain.

So you pitching the idea to him, is that how this partnership got started?

We were talking about it and I brought it up to him, what do you think about this, us being together? Brock’s part-time and CM Punk was hurt at the time and I was like, Paul, WWE needs Paul Heyman on television. So that was my pitch to him. But before that, before I was even with him, he would be at the live events and this Raw and Smackdown TVs and he would come up and give me advice. So I was like, man, if this guy wants to take time out of his busy day and help me out, I would approach him with everything I had and he’d help me out, and then I approached him with this pitch and he liked it. We would talk more about it; I think he might’ve brought it up to the higher-ups in WWE and here we are.

Check out the complete interview online at

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