After seeing a series of vignettes that included a no-look basketball shot, a half-court shot, bowling a perfect score, and catching his own Hail Mary pass, "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig made his WWE debut in the fall of 1988. His character was over enough to immediately make an impression in the mid-card scene. Within a year, he was feuding against the WWE Champion, Hulk Hogan, making him one of the top heels of the company.
After unsuccessfully capturing the world title, Hennig focused on dominating the midcard division, advancing to the tournament final to determine a new Intercontinental champion. He defeated Tito Santana in the finals, obtaining gold for the first time in the WWE. After the match, he acquired the services of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, which further catapulted his career as a top name for the company.
His initial reign lasted four months, before losing it to the "Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich at SummerSlam. Three months later, he regained the championship, and would have one of the longest reigns in WWE history—over nine months—before losing it at the following SummerSlam to Bret Hart in a phenomenal match.
Unfortunately after his IC title runs, Hennig never made a matching impression similar to the first few years of his tenure. In 1992, he made a babyface turn, teaming up with Randy Savage against Ric Flair and Razor Ramon at Survivor Series and winning the match by disqualification.
The height of his babyface run was eliminating Ric Flair from the 1993 Royal Rumble and defeating him in a "Loser Leaves WW[E]" match. Although he was red-hot as a babyface in the beginning of '93, unsuccessful feuds with "The Narcissist" Lex Luger and Shawn Michaels extinguished all of his steam.
As a surprise entrant, Hennig made his WWE return after an over five-year hiatus—working for WCW—in the 2002 Royal Rumble match. Shockingly, he made it to the final three, before being eliminated by Triple H. His impressive showing at the Rumble earned him a permanent contract, even starting a short feud with Steve Austin. However, due to his unacceptable behavior, most notably on the infamous Plane Ride from Hell, he was released just four months later.
Unfortunately, after an unsuccessful run in TNA and never being able to rebound from his glory days of the late 80s/early 90s, he died less than one year later after his WWE release. Four years later, he was posthumously inducted by Wade Boggs into the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame.
"Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig's legacy will never be forgotten. We will always be reminded of how much he contributed for the WWE, as well as being one of the greatest Intercontinental champions of all time. His son, "Curtis Axel," has an opportunity to start the process of fulfilling his father's footsteps by winning the IC title this Sunday at Payback.
Do you think Curtis Axel will match or exceed his father's career? Also, what was your favorite "Mr. Perfect" moment in the WWE? Sound off below.