Curtis Axel was a NXT season 2 participant formerly known as Michael McGillicutty. In NXT season 2 finale on August 31, McGillicutty ended the competition in second place, being beaten by Kaval. At the end of the show, McGillicutty turned Heel by attacking Kaval with the other eliminated rookies.
In October 2010, at Hell in a Cell, McGillicutty and Husky Harris disguised themselves as fans and interfered during the match between John Cena and Wade Barrett. This allowed Barrett to pin Cena and win the match, forcing Cena to join Nexus. McGillicutty's and Harris identities were revealed on the following day's episode of Raw, though Barrett claimed he had not asked for their help and refused to make them full time members of The Nexus.
The following week, McGillicutty and Harris interfered in a match between Cena and The Miz, costing Cena the match and prompting Barrett to give them the opportunity to win membership in The Nexus. On the October 18 episode of Raw, McGillicutty and Harris were unable to earn a place in The Nexus when they lost to Cena and Randy Orton in a tag team match. Despite this, Barrett confirmed both he and Harris were members on the October 25 episode of Raw.
In January 2011 CM Punk took over The Nexus and had each of its members put through an initiation. McGillicutty passed his initiation, a beatdown from the rest of the group, and was allowed to remain a member of Nexus. McGillicutty faced and lost to Orton on the February 28 episode of Raw, and after the match Orton punted McGillicutty in the head. McGillicutty returned on the April 11 episode of Raw with the other New Nexus members, preventing Orton from earning a WWE Championship match.
After the Nexus disbanded, McGillicutty and his tag team partner David Otunga were defending WWE Tag Team Champions until they lost to Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne.
On the May 20, 2013 edition of RAW, Paul Heyman introduced Michael McGillicutty, now known as Curtis Axel, as his newest "Paul Heyman guy". The name is based off on his father's first name being Curt and his grandfather Larry "The "Ax" Hennig.
Later he would team with Ryback, also a Heyman guy, continuing after they split from paul.
After splitting he and Ryback went on to compete in solo careers.
Drawn 6th, he won the 2015 Royal Rumble after Roman Reigns lost count and thought he won by beating Alexander Rusev and voluntarily stepped out. WWE announcers mistakenly also reported that Reigns had won, and Axel's victory as the last competitor standing was ignored.
This led to internet outrage on twitter with a variety of hashtags trending demanding the WWE make amends, such as:
- #AxelMania (Curtis said to use this on February 5 Smackdown)