The art of true living in this world is more like a wrestler’s than a dancer’s practice.Marcus Aurelius
Curt Hennig Bio 2023 – Mr. Perfect’s Greatest Moments!
Hello everyone! Here at Against the Ropes, we decided to make a series of biographies of some of our favorite professional wrestlers that somehow left us way too early, but not without leaving behind a true legacy in the pro wrestling industry.
On the last post of our series – which you can find here – we honored the great Latino Heat, Eddie Guerrero. This time we bring you the life and career of one of the most prolific and charismatic pro wrestlers of all time, the Perfect One, Curt Hennig.
I cannot stress enough that Curt Hennig is arguably the best professional wrestler to never hold a major title in a major promotion like WWE or WCW. Curt was a wrestler way ahead of his time, with a technical style that, even by today’s standards, is top-notch; he had colossal charisma, was great on the mic, and had a strong working ethic.
So without further ado, let’s jump on our Curt Hennig bio by looking at some quick facts from the Perfect One.
- Birthday: 03/28/1958
- Born In: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
- Height: 6′ 3″ (190 cm)
- Weight: 260 lbs (118 kg)
- Beginning of in-ring career: 1980
- End of in-ring career: 02/10/2003 (at the age of 44)
- Cause of Death: acute drug intoxication
- In-ring experience: 23 years
- Wrestling Style: All-rounder, Technical
- Trained by: Verne Gagne and Larry Hennig
- Curt Hennig
- Mr. Perfect
- The Perfect One
- Spouse: Leonice Leonard
- Children: Joseph, Hank, Katie, and Amy Hennig
- Father: Larry Hennig
- Mother: Irene Mitchum
- Siblings: Susan, Sandra, Jesse, and Randy Hennig
- Figure-Four Leglock
- Rolling Neck Snap
- Perfect-Plex / Hennig-Plex
- NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship – (3x) 61 days
- NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship – 120 days
- AWA World Tag Team Championship – 119 days
- AWA World Heavyweight Championship – 373 days
- WWE Intercontinental Championship – (2x) 406 days
- WCW United States Championship – 104 days
- WCW World Tag Team Championship – 21 days
- iGW World Heavyweight Championship
- WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship – 4 days
- MECW Heavyweight Championship
- FOW Heavyweight Championship – 58 days
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated: Rookie of the Year 1981
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Most Improved Wrestler 1983
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated: Most Improved Wrestler 1987
- George Tragos / Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame: 2007
- WWE Hall of Fame: Class of 2007
Curtis Michael “Curt” Hennig, born on March 28, 1958, in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, is the son of the legendary professional wrestler Larry “The Axe” Hennig.
Coming from a wrestling family, Curt naturally shows interest in pro wrestling. That interest leads his father to teach him some basics during his childhood.
Entering his teens, Curt starts to train in wrestling regularly, though soon, the young Hennig becomes more interested in football.
The future second-generation pro wrestler, Curt Hennig, attends Robbinsdale High School alongside his childhood friend and future pro wrestler, Rick Rude.
Curiously, Brady Boone, Barry Darsow, John Nord, Nikita Koloff, and Road Warrior Hawk – who would all become pro wrestlers, too – attended the same high school as Curt and Rick.
At the University of Minnesota, now playing for the football team’s college, Curt injured his knee and underwent surgery.
Curt Hennig begins training wrestling again with the legendary Verne Gagne during his recovery process. The training went well, with Curt fully recovering from his surgery, gaining valuable knowledge as a pro wrestler, and even having some eyes within the wrestling industry interested in his services.
First Runs of the Perfect One
Since Verne Gagne trained Curt Hennig – one of the best pro wrestling coaches of all time – it only makes sense to debut on Gagne’s promotion, American Wrestling Association (AWA), which by the way, it is the promotion where Curt’s father, Larry “The Axe” Hennig made a name for himself.
Introduced as “Cool” Curt Hennig, the young wrestler didn’t take too long to show his incredible skills. Allied to his natural charisma and connection with fans – which naturally made him a babyface – Curt Hennig becomes a fan-favorite among AWA fans.
Curt’s good performances got the eye of Vince McMahon, and in 1981, Hennig began to work for the then-World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
After defeating Fred Marzino in his debut match on WWF, Curt Hennig had some matches against “Playboy” Buddy Rose, Greg Valentine, and Killer Khan before entering into a feud with the too second-generation wrestler Eddie Gilbert.
Shortly after, Curt Hennig leaves WWF to make a name for himself. The expected step from the youngster is returning to AWA -which he eventually did – though he initially begins to work for the Pacific Northwest Wrestling (PNW).
There, he teamed up with his father, Larry, and the two conquered the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship in what must have been an extraordinary moment for both father and son.
The duo eventually dropped the titles, though Curt Hennig would regain them on two occasions, one with Buddy Rose and the other with Scott McGhee.
Curt kept doing sporadic appearances in PNW, performing in other promotions like Central States Wrestling, Continental Wrestling Association, NWA St. Louis, and even works for New Japan Pro wrestling. However, it was when Curt Hennig rejoined AWA in 1983, that the youngster’s career started to rise.
Upon his return to AWA, Curt Hennig teams with Scott Hall, with the duo capturing the AWA World Tag Team Championship in a match against “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin and “Mr. Electricity” Steve Regal.
Curt Hennig began a run as a single competitor despite his success as a tag team competitor, eventually leading him to one of his most significant achievements in professional wrestling.
On May 2, 1987, at the SuperClash PPV, Curt Hennig challenged Nick Bockwinkel for the AWA World Heavyweight Championship. Curt Hennig went to win the match – with some assistance from Larry Zbzyszko – turned heel and became the world’s new AWA World Heavyweight Champion.
As AWA World Heavyweight Champion, Curt Hennig had interesting feuds, such as a long one against Greg Gagne, which counted with Larry Hennig and Verne Gagne on the side of their respective sons.
After being champion for over one year (373 days) – the seventh-longest in the company’s history – Curt Hennig drops the AWA World Heavyweight Championship.
By this time, AWA starts to struggle to survive, and Verne Gagne decides to merge his AWA promotion with Jerry Lawler’s CWA. To Curt Hennig’s surprise, Gagne puts the AWA World Heavyweight Championship on a much older Lawler. So on May 9, 1988, Hennig did the job, and Lawler became the new champion.
That didn’t sit well with Curt Hennig. This, allied with the fact that plenty of other AWA wrestlers are jumping ship to WWF in hopes of getting better pay and more exposure, leads the young prospect to follow in the steps of Shawn Michaels, Rick Martel, and Hulk Hogan, to name a few, and join WWF again. Worthy of referring to that in this period, Curt Hennig has a couple of matches in All Japan Pro Wrestling.
First WWF Comeback
The Perfect Streak
Upon his return to WWF – which happened at WrestleFest, with a victory over Terry Taylor – Curt Hennig isn’t seen anymore as a young prospect. Instead, Curt is a more refined, crafted, even perfect wrestler by this time. So naturally, his gimmick isn’t the one he had on his first run for the promotion.
Curt Hennig is now portraying an arrogant, even snob heel, which could do near the impossible, with absolute perfection, without breaking a sweat. Hence the nickname “Mr. Perfect.”
After debuting victoriously on television against enhancement talent, vignettes of Curt Hennig – which counted with the presence of sports stars like Felton Spencer from NBA, Mike Modano from NHL, Steve Jordan from NFL, and Wade Boggs from MLB – started to air on WWF.
On those vignettes – among the best wrestling vignettes I have ever watched – you can see the now Mr. Perfect doing all kinds of almost impossible athletic stuns. From hitting a score of 300 in bowling and hitting home runs to doing bull-eyes in darts and throwing and catching his own Hail Mary football passes.
I can’t stress enough how perfect and hilarious those vignettes are, so you have to watch them! Curt Hennig plays Mr. Perfect’s role so well that by 1989 his real name is eventually dropped out. As Mr. Perfect, Curt has his first bout on an episode of Prime Time Wrestling, on which he comes victorious against Jim Brunzell.
From there, he makes his PPV debut at Survivor Series in a Five-on-Five Elimination Tag Team match. Curt has on his side André the Giant, Dino Bravo, Harley Race, and his childhood friend Rick Rude, and they face the team of Jim Duggan, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Ken Patera, Tito Santana, and Scott Casey. Ultimately, Curt Hennig and Dino Bravo are the last survivors. Now that’s a perfect PPV debut.
For over a year, not only is Mr. Perfect undefeated (on TV), but he also has exciting matches and feuds at the mid-card. He battles the likes of The Blue Blazer, Hercules, Tito Santana, and Bret Hart, among others.
That eventually led Curt to enter a program with none other than the WWF World Heavyweight Champion, Hulk Hogan, the world’s top wrestler at the time. That period marks the beginning of an alliance between Mr. Perfect and Randy Savage’s real-life brother, “Leaping” Lanny Poffo – which was known at the time as the Genius.
In a match between Hulk Hogan and the Genius, Perfect hits the Hulkster with the title – which granted the victory to the Genious via countout – with both men rushing out of the ring while in possession of the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Later in the show, Perfect and the Genius destroyed Hulk’s title, adding even more intensity to their feud.
After a couple of matches between Hogan and Curt at some live events, they finally had their first televised match on January 15, 1990, on which Mr. Perfect came on top via Hogan’s disqualification. Despite the victory, Hogan keeps the WWF World Heavyweight strap since Curt won by disqualification.
At that year’s Royal Rumble, Perfect is in clear evidence. First, he beats Brutus Beefcake after Brutus’ match against the Genius. Then, after entering the Royal Rumble match as the last entrant (30), he arrives at the final two – after eliminating his good friend Rick Rude – with Hulk Hogan. But, unfortunately, Hogan eliminated Curt and won that year’s Rumble.
In the ideal world, Mr. Perfect Vs. Hulk Hogan’s rivalry ends at a PPV match. However, that never came to fruition, and Curt Hennig was put in a feud with the WWF Intercontinental Champion at the time, Ultimate Warrior.
That leads to the end of Curt’s undefeated streak, with The Perfect One taking his first pinfall loss on WWF television. Shortly after, Curt’s first loss on national television came at the hands of Brutus Beefcake at WrestleMania VI.
After putting The Hulkster over in several house shows, Curt Hennig finally gets pinned by Hulk Hogan on television on the April 28, 1990, edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event. This period marked the end of the partnership between Mr. Perfect and the Genius.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Reigns
Following Ultimate Warrior’s victory over Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI – which saw the Warrior become a double champion – the Warrior vacates the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship.
In May of that year, Curt Hennig entered a tournament to crown a new Intercontinental Champion. After defeating Jimmy Snuka in the first round, Mr. Perfect benefits from a double disqualification from Ricky Martel and Rody Piper to advance directly to the finals.
The finals take place in an episode of Superstars, where Perfect faces Tito Santana. With the help of Bobby Heenan – which distracted Santana – Mr. Perfect pins his opponent with a quick inside cradle, winning in that way his first WWF Intercontinental Championship. After the victory, Mr. Perfect announced Bobby Heenan as his new manager. Curt Hennig has his first title defense against Tito Santana, which he wins.
In that year’s SummerSlam, Mr. Perfect is scheduled to defend his Intercontinental strap against Brutus Beefcake. However, the feud is scrapped due to the latter’s injury, with the Texas Tornado, Kerry Von Erich, jumping in to replace Beefcake. Kerry Von Erich calls out the WWF Intercontinental Champion for a match, which Hennig accepts. With everything set for that year’s SummerSlam PPV, the two men went to war. The Texas Tornado ends up beating Mr. Perfect for the gold.
On the following PPV (Survivor Series), Curt Hennig pairs with Demolition – forming the Perfect Team – against the Warriors (Ultimate Warrior, Texas Tornado, and Legion of Doom) in a Four-on-Four Elimination Tag Team match, which they lost.
After the loss, Mr. Perfect focused on regaining the Intercontinental Championship, though he fells short in his first rematch against the Texas Tornado. On their second encounter, Mr. Perfect comes victorious with help from Ted Dibiase. From there, Curt Hennig has successful defenses against Texas Tornado, Big Boss Man at Wrestlemania VII, and Greg Valentine.
In the summer of 1991, Bobby Heenan retired as a manager, and The Coach (John Tolos) was introduced as Mr. Perfect’s new manager. Hennig starts a feud with the British Bulldog, but the rivalry is dropped due to a back injury suffered in late June by the Perfect One. In July 1991, it was announced that Mr. Perfect was scheduled to defend his Intercontinental title in that year’s SummerSlam PPV, against Bret “the Hitman” Hart.
Hennig didn’t wrestle House Shows throughout this period, and even his appearances on TV were reduced to the minimum not to aggravate the injury. In addition, in his few TV appearances, Hennig would win most of his matches via countout instead of his traditional Perfect-Plex, to reduce the impact on his back.
At the SummerSlam, despite the injury, Mr. Perfect makes a point not only to face and drop the IC title to Bret Hart but also to put the Hitman over in the best of his capacities. In what is regarded as one of the best matches of all time in SummerSlam history, Mr. Perfect loses the match but wins all the respect and appreciation from his peers, notably Bret Hart.
Later, Bret Hart states the following about his bouts against Curt Hennig, particularly their match at SummerSlam 1991:
“He (Curt Hennig) loved his matches with me, as I did with him. When he was told the guy he’d be working with at SummerSlam was Bret Hart, he was like, “I’ll be there.”
He really hurt his back going into SummerSlam that year. He was in such pain, but he wanted to be there, for me, out of respect.
The fact that he worked so hard in that match when he was in a considerable amount of pain, and he did it out of respect for me, is one of those things you don’t forget.
I know that people love the match I had with Curt. It was a great match, but I think it was more about the backstory of a guy who was there for me, and it isn’t necessarily transparent in the match and storyline.
I had so many great matches with Curt Hennig, and I know for sure it meant a lot to me. If someone said to me, “that’s it, that’s the highest you ever do,” that was as high as I ever needed to go.”
After the loss, Curt Hennig took an entire year to recover from bulged discs and a broken tailbone.
Manager, Commentator, and In-Ring Return
Although Curt Hennig isn’t clear for in-ring competition, WWF and Hennig himself took the best of the circumstances. In November 1991, Mr. Perfect returned as an executive consultant of Ric Flair, with the chemistry between the duo out of the charts.
One week later, Mr. Perfect joins Vince K. McMahon as a heel color commentator in the commentary booth for an entire year, always cheering for the bad guys.
His work as Ric Flair’s manager is impressive, helping the Nature Boy win two WWF World Heavyweight Championships. As a color commentator, he has a flawless run as well. Despite his heel bias, Hennig gets tremendously over with fans in general.
During the build of a Tag Team match at Survivor Series between Ric Flair & Razor Ramon Vs. Macho Man & Ultimate Warrior, the latter, got fired. That leads Mr. Perfect to join forces with Macho Man against his old allies, turning babyface for the first time on WWF. Savage & Hennig were victorious in that match.
Mr. Perfect made his comeback in singles competition in early January 1993, winning against The Berzerker. Hennig enters that year’s Royal Rumble match, and after eliminating several opponents (Flair included), he’s eventually eliminated.
The night after the Rumble, in an episode of Monday Night Raw, Mr. Perfect faces Ric Flair in a match where the loser leaves WWF. Meanwhile, behind the curtain, Ric Flair is set to leave WWF and rejoin WCW; therefore, he makes the job and puts Hennig over on his way out of the company.
Almost thirty years after the bout, I still recall it very well because this was the first time I saw blood in a wrestling match. The image of a bloody yet victorious Mr. Perfect is one of my oldest memories of professional wrestling.
Entering WrestleMania season, Hennig begins to feud with Lex Luger. At WrestleMania IX, the two men went to war, with Luger getting the W, despite Mr. Perfect having both feet on the ropes when the pin occurs. Following the match, while the Perfect One is looking for Luger backstage, Shawn Michaels attacks him with a pipe from behind, starting a feud between the two.
Despite being in a feud with the Heartbreak Kid, Mr. Perfect finds the time to enter the first-ever televised King of the Ring Tournament. However, after wins over Doink the Clown and Mr. Hughes, Hennig would lose at the tournament’s semi-finals against the eventual winner, Bret Hart.
On that year’s SummerSlam, Hennig challenged Michaels for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, though he lost by countout due to the interference of Michaels’ new bodyguard, Kevin Nash, aka Diesel. Hennig would take some time off shortly after.
Then, at WrestleMania X, Curt Hennig returns as a special guest referee in a match between Yokozuna and Lex Luger. Mr. Perfect turns hell during the match and disqualifies Lex Luger, granting the win to Yokozuna.
Later, Mr. Perfect reveals that he had disqualified Luger to avenge his loss to him at WrestleMania IX. With things set for a feud between both athletes, Hennig gets back injured, and the feud is dropped. Curt passes another full year out of action, resulting in him exiting WWF in the spring of 1994.
In the Survivor Series 1995, Mr. Perfect returns as a color commentator. In this role, he would stick around for a while, working with Vince McMahon and Jim Ross.
From the booth, Perfect returns to the ring as a special referee in the King of the Ring tournament finals in a match between Shawn Michaels and the British Bulldog.
And then, Perfect starts an angle with Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H) that leads to Mr. Perfect mentorship of the young HHH after helping him capture the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
The Perfect One would leave WWF in late 1996. Destination: World Championship Wrestling.
WCW Just Got Perfect
Four Horseman and the NWO
In mid-1997, the once-known Mr. Perfect signed with World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Now under his real name, Curt Hennig makes his first appearance in an episode of Monday Nitro and has his first match at the Bash at the Beach PPV, where he aligns himself with Diamond Dallas Page against New World Order (NWO) members Scott Hall and Randy Savage.
As the match goes on, Hennig turns on DDP, resulting in Curt losing his first match in WCW. That leads to a feud between both, culminating at the Road to Kill PPV, with Hennig winning.
Moving along from that feud, Curt finds himself in a very intriguing spot where the Four Horsemen and New World Order are interested in having him in their ranks.
Initially, Curt Hennig joins forces with the Horsemen, replacing Arn Anderson in the group, who had just retired. I say initially because at the Fall Brawl PPV, when Horsemen and NWO go to battle at the WarGames match, Curt pulls another betrayal in his short stint in WCW.
Curt apparently is assaulted backstage by NWO members during the PPV. After staying in the back for a period in the WarGames match, he joins mid-match to turn on the Horsemen, joining the NWO and becoming a heel (again) in the process.
As an NWO member, Curt only takes one day to win some gold when he captures the United States Heavyweight Championship from Horsemen member Steve McMichael. As a champion, Hennig’s best feuds are against Ric Flair. Both men went to war at Halloween Havoc and World War 3 (No-DQ match), win Hennig winning in both times. He later drops the title to DDP at the Starrcade PPV.
In what might have been a happy day in Hennig’s life, Ricky Rude – Curt’s best friend in childhood – joins WCW and both men align themselves. The duo feuds for most of the first half of 1998 with Bret Hart, British Bulldog, and Jim Neidhart, though a knee injury forces Curt to stop.
Upon his return, Curt Hennig finds the NWO broken into two factions, the NWO Wolfpac and NWO Hollywood. Rick and Curt join the Wolfpac faction, though they never fit in since both men (Rude in particular) work as heels, while the faction behaves as babyfaces.
If something always holds Curt back from reaching higher highs, it’s injuries. At the Great American Bash PPV, Curt is scheduled to fight against Goldberg for the United States Heavyweight Championship, but due to an injury, he’s replaced by Konnan.
Despite the lost chance, Curt Hennig makes the most of the moment, and after Konnan loses against Goldberg, Hennig and Rude attack Konnan, with the duo jumping sides and aligning themselves with the NWO Hollywood.
One month later, at the Bash at the Beach PPV, not even his injury gets in his way to a title shot when Curt Hennig challenges the now-new WCW World Heavyweight Champion, Goldberg. But, despite the effort, he fails to capture the big one.
Curt tries to rebound from the loss by entering a program with Four Horsemen member Dean Malenko. But, unfortunately, the feud culminates with both men settling the score at the Fall Brawl PPV, and Curt falls short again. After the loss, Curt takes some time to nurture his knee injury.
Upon his comeback, he restarts the feud with Ric Flair, which eventually leads to a tag team match between Hennig and Barry Windham against Flair and his son, David, at the Souled Out PPV, with Slick Ric and David picking up the win.
At this moment, there’s a feeling that Curt’s career at WCW hit a roadblock, with the Perfect One being one of the countless examples of talent lost in the shuffle, with no clear path in the company. And if your last name isn’t Hogan, Nash, or Hall, chances of having a real push are slim.
With the end of all NWO shenanigans, with all groups finally reunited in one big NWO family, there’s the decision to create the NWO B-Team, which consists of a bunch of mid-card wrestlers that were NWO members. After being inserted in that group, Curt is kicked out from the NWO B-Team shortly after due to differences with the team’s leaders.
West Texas Rednecks and WCW Departure
After getting the proverbial perfect butt kicked out from the B-Team, Curt joins forces with Barry Windham and resumes his feud with the Four Horsemen.
Both men enter a tournament to crown new WCW World Tag Team Champions for the vacant titles, and at the SuperBrawl IX PPV, the duo beats Horsemen members Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko to be crowned the new champions. Unfortunately, the reign of Hennig and Windham as champions would not last long as one month later, at the Uncensored PPV, they dropped the WCW World Tag Team Championships precisely to Benoit and Malenko.
From there, after a couple of matches – which includes a loss to Hollywood Hogan – Curt creates a stable named West Texas Rednecks alongside Barry Windham, his brother Kendall Windham, and Bobby Duncum Jr.
As a mid-card act, the stable presents itself as a group of southern country musicians, having in the Perfect One their frontman. Their first feud was with the rapper and producer Master P – who had signed with WCW – and his stable, No Limit Soldiers.
I feel that Curt Hennig does his best work with the West Texas Rednecks during his WCW run. However, he did lose his first matches in PPV, teaming up with Ducum against No Limit Soldiers, though they became increasingly over with the fans, despite the heel nature of the stable.
The fact that the southern WCW fans like country music and Curt Hennig knows how to sing are the primary reasons for the West Texas Rednecks’ success. Hennig would say later that he “thought it was great. They didn’t realize I could sing that good.”
With the release of the album and music called “Rap is Crap,” the Rednecks got even more over with the fans, making it harder for the group to work as heels against Master P’s faction. My humble two cents on the matter is that the angle with No Limit Soldiers should be dropped and given to the Rednecks a run as a babyface stable, increasing the stable’s momentum.
Instead, WCW drops the angle with Master P’s faction – good – though they decide to drop the entire West Texas Redneck act – ouch – with the Rednecks making their last match at the Road Wild PPV, in which they lose a Six-Man Tag Team match.
The stable’s abrupt end leaves many fans scratching their heads concerning the reasons that led to that, though some words from Hennig itself and some knowledge of who the top wrestlers in WCW were at the time can shed some light on the matter: “All I could tell you is this; Somebody with blond hair came up to me and said “I can’t follow that,” and that was the last time I seen of it.” Curt Hennig.
It’s hard for Hennig to move on from the Rednecks – mostly because he’s having lots of fun with the group – but he eventually moves on, though the storylines he’s put are rather disappointing.
A good example is a storyline in which he should retire if he loses a match by pinfall. He loses against Buff Bagwell at the Mayhem PPV and retires just to be reinstated one month later – WCW booking, don’t ask me!
Curt Hennig puts over other wrestlers in forgettable feuds like with Shawn Stasiak – for whom Hennig loses the match at the Slamboree PPV – and eventually leaves WCW in 2000 after his contract expires.
Spreading Perfection Everywhere
With the WCW’s chapter closed, Curt Hennig decides to spread his wings overseas. He makes his debut in the Australian promotion i-Generation Superstars of Wrestling against none other than Dennis Rodman in a match that Curt wins by DQ.
Wrestling to the Australian-based promotion, Hennig eventually won the i-Generation World Heavyweight Championship on two separate occasions.
Closer to home, Curt works for the Puerto Rico-based promotion, World Wrestling Council, and there he beats Carly Colon (aka Carlito) for the WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship.
Hennig makes a one-time appearance for the Japanese-based promotion, All-Japan Pro Wrestling, too, at the King’s Road New Century PPV in a losing effort in a Six-Man Tag Team match.
After making some dates in the independent circuit, Hennig wrestles for Harley Race’s promotion, World League Wrestling, and eventually joins the at the time newly -and short-lived – X Federation Promotion, in which he faces the likes of Buff Bagwell, Vampiro, and even Hulk Hogan.
And that sums up pretty much the professional period of the Perfect One after WCW’s departure and his last comeback to a house he knows well, the now World Wrestling Entertainment.
Last WWF Comeback
Returning to WWE as Mr. Perfect – though his real name is now mentioned as well – Curt Hennig doesn’t take long to make an impact.
At the 2002 Royal Rumble match, Curt enters at number 25. He ends up in the final three men in the match – being eliminated by that’s year winner, Triple H – with the Perfect One’s performance at the match and the crowd’s reaction to his return being enough to grant him a full-time contract with WWE.
During this early period back to WWE, Curt helps train a young prospect, Brock Lesnar – though WWE does not recognize it – with whom he has a couple of bouts in dark matches and house shows.
Despite the impact he creates upon his return, Curt begins to lose steam primarily due to the lack of direction of his character. He has rather forgettable feuds with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Rob Van Dam – the latter he even challenges for the Intercontinental title, though he fails short of accomplishing it – and eventually teaming up with the likes of Shawn Stasiak and the Big Boss Man.
Although things didn’t look perfect to Curt at this point of his veteran career, with some severe and prolonged injuries in his repertoire, things can always get worse. And what can get worse, sometimes, will eventually get worse. In Hennig’s case, it was the “Plane Ride from Hell.”
I will not fall much into the Plane Ride from Hell’s rabbit hole – because that deserves an entire post of its own – though in a nutshell, imagine a plane grounded for several hours with a bunch of tired, impatient, and after a point drunk wrestlers, promoters, and other WWE staff.
Now to your surprise, imagine that with all the chaos that all the excesses degenerate, someone decides that the safest thing to do is take off. Well, it’s what pretty much happened.
In what accounts to Curt, he’s known as a practical joker, so he slaps shaving cream from the head of a sleepy Brock Lesnar. As a result, a fight between the Beast Incarnate and Mr. Perfect breaks through with both men during the altercation, almost opening the emergency door during the flight.
As you might assume by now, there are plenty of more stories of excesses from that infamous flight, though the ones that put the lives of all passengers in danger were the ones predicated by Curt and Brock.
WWE decides to be a heavy hand with Curt Hennig, and in May 2002, Mr. Perfect is released from his contract due to his actions on that fateful flight. This is the last time that Hennig would wrestle in WWE.
Total Nonstop Action
After leaving WWE, Curt Hennig resumes his career in the formerly known NWA Total Nonstop Wrestling – currently Impact Wrestling – though his stint in the impact zone, unfortunately, is a short one.
Nevertheless, he still has some high-profile matches, in which Curt challenges three times for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, twice against Ron Killings (aka R-Truth), and once against Jeff Jarrett. Hennig would eventually lose the three title shots against his opponents.
Alongside B. G. James, Curt challenges for the NWA World Tag Team Championships against Disciples of the New Church. But, despite the effort, Hennig and James will fail to claim the titles.
During this period, Curt makes one appearance in the Future of Wrestling promotion, in which Curt Hennig defeats Bruno Sassi for the FOW World Heavyweight Championship.
On January 8, 2003, Curt Hennig wrestled his last match against David Flair in an Axehandle on a Pole Match, in which the Perfect One came on top.
Not Even Perfection Can Cheat Dead
On February 10, 2003, at 44 years of age, the housekeeper found Curt Hennig dead in a hotel room in Tampa, Florida.
After the preliminary reports, acute cocaine intoxication is determined as the cause of his death by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office.
After the investigations, Curt’s father, Larry, said that his son was abusing prescription painkillers and steroids during the period that preceded his death to add bulk to his over-250 lbs frame. In Larry’s opinion, that was the primary reason for Curt’s death.
In the end, for us, the fans, it doesn’t matter that much if Curt’s death it’s due to a cocaine overdose or painkillers and steroids abuse. The most important is the loss of one of the best and most beloved professional wrestlers of all time.
Curt Hennig’s career is one of being proud and grateful, though one of his big misses is never winning a major title in WWF/E and WCW, which I feel – and many of you for sure feel – that Mr. Perfect is arguably the best pro wrestler never to hold the big one.
One reason that adds immensely to that fact is the multiple – with some of them – lengthy injuries that haunted him throughout his career. Nevertheless, in the heart of many, Curt Hennig is simply one, if not the best technical wrestler that has ever graced the square circle, and that is a title that not many world champions can brag about.
Four years after his death, Curt Hennig was indicted to the WWE Hall of Fame: Class of 2007, with the award being accepted by his son Joseph Hennig. One year after the ceremony, Joseph Hennig debuted in WWE under the name Curtis Axel in homage to both his father and grandfather.
And there you have, guys, our Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig bio. What do you think? Do you think I miss some important milestone in the Perfect One’s career?
If you’d like to add something or give me your thoughts on the subject, don’t hesitate to superkick me in the comment section below, and I’ll gladly chop you back!
In our next post, I will bring you the life of another professional wrestler who left us too early; this time, we’ll be honoring Jay Briscoe. At the time I’m writing, it’s been around two weeks since his passing, so it’s with extreme sadness that I will bring you our next piece.
Anyway, that’s pretty much all I have for you for now, but just before you go, if you are still reading this, I want to THANK YOU for your time reading another of our posts and giving us your feedback to help us improve our work continuously! It means a lot to me!
If you like our content, please consider following us everywhere (except on the street, that’s weird:)) and I’ll catch you in our next post; until then, stay strong and keep loving pro wrestling! Amor Fati! : )
Founder of Against the Ropes.
As a bonus, here’s Mr. Perfect’s WWE video entrance from the early 1990s and the video package from Curt’s WWE Hall of Fame inducement, courtesy of the WWE Youtube channel. Enjoy it! 🙂