Monday 28 March 2011


I think Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin is one of the greatest acts to enter WWE’s main event club for years. His ring work, while it may not be the best in the company, is solid, and he’s a clearly defined character that stands out from the rest of the promotion’s antagonists. The biggest plus point he has is his phenomenal promo ability, being far and away one of the best talkers in the business today.

Unfortunately, a large number of fans remain convinced that Miz doesn’t deserve his spot. If you’re one of those people then think back to The Rock’s on-screen debut as Rocky Maivia. People detested his bland babyface persona and shoddy ring work. The situation continued for months, with McMahon and company foolishly thinking that if they continued to shove Rocky down people’s throats he would eventually be accepted. Eventually they accepted that wasn’t going to happen and turned him heel. Instead of just sitting back and playing the same character, Rocky continued trying to improve, both his wrestling skills and promo style. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did eventually. Even when he won his first WWF championship in November ’98 The Rock was still evolving as a performer. It wasn’t until towards the end of 1999 and the beginning of 2000 that he finally began to settle down into the character we know now. Before that the essence was there, but it was still being refined.

Compare all that to The Miz. He first appeared for WWE as a Tough Enough contestant, in large part due to his previous appearance on US reality show The Real World. While he didn’t win he did make it to the finals, and did enough to secure himself a developmental contract (meaning he was sent to a feeder promotion to learn his craft in finer detail until he was considered ready enough to work on one of the promotions two main rosters).

Miz was eventually brought up to be the host of SmackDown, a bizarre role which mixed aspects of backstage interviewer, ring announcer, and compère for events such bikini contests. Unsurprisingly, fans hated the role and, by extension, Miz. Things only got worse when Miz left hosting behind and became an active wrestler. The perception amongst the fans and the locker room alike was that Miz had got the job based on his time on a reality TV show. Just as he had done with the Rock a decade earlier, Vince McMahon turned Miz heel.

Behind the scenes Miz worked hard to improve on his weak points. It took a couple of years but his wrestling abilities got better and he became someone fans hated because he was a heel rather than because of his past TV work. The big indicator that Miz was truly dedicated came when he switched his in-ring gear from diamante cargo shorts to traditional wrestling trunks. That showed Miz was not only willing to improve but had the initiative to know what he needed to improve.

Like The Rock, the strongest part of Miz’s act is his verbal ability. Unlike The Rock, he has not yet reached the point where he’s outshining his babyface opponents in interview segments, which is what originally caused Rock to be switched face just months after becoming a heel. However, I expect that’s just a matter of time: Miz is naturally funny and has an ever growing array of catchphrases audiences want to join in with.

Having been partnered with the über-talented John Morrison for around two years (a decision originally made to help Miz improve that ended up as a regular combo because they worked so well together) Miz was deemed ready for a renewed push as a singles wrestler. His profile rose steadily each week, as he continued to evolve into a more complete package. Whether it was telling Morrison that he would be Marty Jannetty to Miz’s Shawn Michaels or announcing he would be the next man to create an Undertaker-esque WrestleMania winning streak the night after winning his debut match at the event (watch that here), Miz was a highlight of every show he appeared on.

Things took another turn in the right direction at the inaugural Money in the Bank pay-per-view in July of last year. By booking Miz to win the RAW brand’s ladder match, and choosing him over Kane as the winner who would carry the all-important case for a while, WWE showed that it not only had faith in Miz to deliver in an important PPV match but also that he had been earmarked for a run at the top of the card.

After four months of build Miz finally beat top babyface Randy Orton to win his first WWE championship the night after Survivor Series. It was the traditional Money in the Bank cash-in match: short and sweet, relying on the element of surprise to satisfy the crowd rather than quality ring work. As the weeks passed things continued, sadly, in a similar vein, with Miz being booked to win via interference and luck rather than through ability.

The poor booking didn’t dampen Miz’s spirits as he began to fashion himself into ‘the most must-see WWE champion in history’ by carrying himself like a champion and entering the best performances he could. Slowly but surely the writers begun to acknowledge this. Despite going through the entire Orton program without a clean televised win ‘The Awesome One’ ultimately won the feud and went on to be booked to physically dominate the company’s resident superhero John Cena four weeks in a row.

Miz deserves his spot. He’s worked hard to get to where he is, shown himself to be dedicated and willing to take on a daunting media schedule for the good of the company. Hopefully it’s a few months away, but with the receptions he’s been receiving during his feud with Cena it’s possible Miz could mirror The Rock one final time by turning face because people are so keen to cheer him.

Don’t like him? Tough luck, he’s here to stay. Because he’s the Miz, and he’s... AWESOME!

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