On Monday's episode of Raw, Curtis Axel tried to prove his worth to The Miztourage and team Miz by seeking out Roman Reigns and The Shield and proving he was a capable talent worthy of the fifth and final spot on Miz's TLC team. Instead of making his case, Axel wound up hanging upside down and beaten, a punishment that looked to come at the hands of the Shield.
We don't know that The Shield, in fact, left Axel tied and unable to compete. It makes sense that this was the case, but what if it wasn't?
Here are five theories on who really attacked Curtis Axel and what they stood to gain from doing so.
5. The Shield
We'll start with the most logical choice because sometimes the thing staring you in the face is the right thing to assume happened. It is possible Axel walked up to The Shield, had some choices words and left. Or, that he got close but decided to back down in the final moments since we never got to see any of that unfold on television. Realistically, what seems more likely is that the Shield would have seen him coming and their pack mentality these days probably means they did a number on him, hung him up and left him to be found by his running-buddy The Miz.
The Shield doesn't seem to care who they take out so it makes sense they would get rid of a guy who helped attack Reigns on a recent episode of Raw.
We don't know why Kane joined team Miz and we don't know where he came from (other than he was under the ring for three hours in kayfabe). But, if we don't know why he joined the group and can't really make sense of it, it's logical to assume nothing Kane would do makes sense. Perhaps Kane is simply out for himself and hellbent on destruction regardless of who it is.
Could Kane have attacked Curtis Axel for some reason that isn't clear yet? The belief is that all of this is leading to some sort of storyline involving the Undertaker. How Curtis Axel fits into that equation is unknown.
3. Bo Dallas
Bo Dallas has been off Raw for two straight weeks and we don't really know why. We've been told it's due to an illness, but Bray Wyatt hasn't been around much either (only on-screen promos). Meanwhile, every day that Dallas is gone, Axel gets just a touch more popular with the WWE Universe.
Could Bo Dallas have been watching this and let his jealousy take over? In our opinion, it would be way too soon to break up the Miztourage, but the WWE has made some poor decisions of late. This would be another in a long line of improperly timed moves.
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2. The Miz
Why would The Miz attack Curtis Axel? Well, he probably wouldn't, but The Miz was nowhere to be seen when the Bar and Braun Strowman were encouraging Axel to seek out Reigns and the WWE Universe didn't see The Miz again until he asked where Axel was and then found him tied up.
Could The Miz have done this to his own guy simply because his own guy wasn't good enough? Might he have wanted to ensure Kane was his fifth man with no resistance from his Miztourage henchman? The Miz likes having his buddies, so this one is a longshot at best.
1. Curtis Axel
We've seen this kind of move before. Big Cass did it to frame Enzo and others have faked their own beatings to frame someone else. In this case, it seems less about framing someone and more about Axel having staged his own attack simply to avoid a real-life whopping by the Shield.
The challenge is that someone would have had to help Axel since it's hard to logically explain how he could have tied himself up.