Friday 25 May 2012

Awesome No More?

It was around this time last year when The Miz’s main event career ended. Having captured the WWE championship (historically by far the more important of WWE’s two designated world championships) from Randy Orton at the end of the post-Survivor Series 2010 RAW the former reality TV star had been at the top of the company for almost half a year. During that time he had been awarded further victories over Orton and, at WrestleMania, John Cena. Although he was never able to beat either man clean (he invariably obtained those wins after interference from Alex Riley or via other underhand tactics) that he was booked to beat the promotion’s two top babyfaces under any circumstances was a clear sign that WWE wanted the man to succeed at the top.

At Extreme Rules 2011 Miz lost the WWE championship to John Cena in a steel cage match (also involving John Morrison). He was unable to regain the belt the next evening on RAW or at Over The Limit three weeks later. It was after that loss to Cena that Miz’s position on the card changed significantly.

Instead of continuing his feud with champion Cena ‘The Awesome One’ instead took issue with his apprentice Alex Riley. Blamed for Miz’s loss of the WWE title A-Ry found himself fired on the post-Over The Limit RAW. The two men clashed in a singles match at Capitol Punishment and then came to blows at Money in the Bank, where they both participated in one of the titular ladder bouts.

At the time it seemed that WWE was using Miz as a star-builder, someone who would help Riley establish as a featured babyface. Despite expectations Riley actually flourished in the role and gained a lot of support from fans for standing up to his bullying ex-mentor. It seemed like a mild comedown for Miz after being involved in the headline picture (to great acclaim) for several months, but most assumed it would just be a temporary arrangement designed to slow down his career and stop him becoming burned out and overexposed.

The epitome of awesome

Unfortunately for ‘The Cleveland Screamer’ he was kept waiting for something new to do for far longer than expected. Once the Riley rivalry was over and done with Miz was left treading water until he formed Awesome Truth alongside fellow ex-headline heel experiment R-Truth. Miz sunk his teeth into that opportunity with characteristic gusto. Awesome Truth was one of the highlights of WWE television in the latter months of last year thanks to their clashes with Air Boom and their memorable worked shoot firing at the hands of Triple H.

The peak of the team’s tenure came when they clashed with John Cena and The Rock at Survivor Series. Held in Madison Square Garden and being ‘The Great One’s’ first match in over seven years it was a match of huge significance in the careers of all four men. Being booked to lose didn’t deter Miz from entering a strong performance and showing why he’d been selected to topple Orton for the gold one year before.

The next night Awesome Truth were abruptly split (thanks to a violation of the Wellness Policy by Truth) which originally seemed like a waste and a setback for the Miz. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise for him as it freed him up for inclusion in the triple threat Tables Ladders and Chairs match for the WWE championship at TLC on December 18th.

That would turn out to be the final match of any great significance that ‘The Most Must See WWE Superstar in History’ would have for a while. Since then Miz has been treading water again, given no real storylines and almost finding himself left off of WrestleMania (he was the final addition to the Team Johnny v Team Teddy bout). Miz is no longer guaranteed to appear on RAW each week and when he does there’s a fair chance he’ll be staring at the lights for someone higher on WWE’s list of priorities.

The recent news that he will be starring in WWE Studios’ latest venture, The Marine: Homefront, could be a blessing in disguise for the underutilised star. The project will require him to be off of WWE TV for a couple of months which will provide the opportunity to reintroduce him with a renewed purpose and accompanying push. If I were WWE’s head booker I’d have Miz suffer another standard loss on an edition of RAW then take a microphone and unleash a vicious promo about being overlooked and forgotten before storming out of the arena.

Once filming on Homefront was completed Miz could return to TV by interfering in a WWE or World title match on pay-per-view, setting him up as an opponent for Sheamus or CM Punk. He could potentially be booked to beat either man and have another run at the main event level. Punk has held the WWE title since last year’s Survivor Series and Sheamus has had the World belt since WrestleMania. By the time Miz returns to TV they’d both have lengthy title reigns notched up and a switch would freshen the company up.

I’d be inclined to go with Miz taking the belt from Sheamus: it’s a fresher match and would allow Miz to be moved to the Friday night show where he’d be given more room to breathe as a performer and could concentrate on re-establishing himself. It would also set up a feud with a heel Daniel Bryan, whose “Yes!” catchphrase (is one word a catchphrase?) could be used to counteract Miz’s sardonic “Really?” promos (is one word a promo?). Live audiences would have great fun with warring phrase chants there and the feud could be used to gradually turn Miz face (or Bryan for that matter).

Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin has all the tools to be a regular at the top of WWE cards. He has the look the company likes, is a proficient wrestler, has tremendous promo skills, is famously dedicated to improving himself, isn’t afraid of the promotion’s gruelling travel schedule (he makes the second most public appearances for WWE behind John Cena), and has a nice stash of phrases that fans like joining in with. He’s been to the top once. If given the chance I think he could get back there again.

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