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An Analysis of The Miz vs Ambrose Feud – Why It Works by Mike Sanchez

The Miz was a highlight of 2016, and if it hadn’t been for one AJ Styles, would likely have been up there for wrestler of the year. What made Miz so good last year? Why is he consistently at the top of his game, yet not involved in the main title picture? Does that even matter? This latest feud with Dean Ambrose is gathering serious steam and while Ziggler gave a good run against Miz last year, Ambrose could and should push it to another level. Taking a step back, some serious thought and consideration has gone into Miz’s recent run and I’d like to explore why he and this feud have been at a consistent high level in recent months.

Borrowing from the past

Many organisations, businesses and storywriters are always looking for the next new approach. The neo way of thinking, but sometimes it’s wiser to look back and think what worked before. If something worked once, then it can work again, right? WWE has had mixed success with this way of thinking. Sometimes borrowing too literally from past successes only to see them spectacularly fail or cause outrage in the fan’s eyes. But in fairness, borrowing the idea and then giving it a new twist or allowing the talent to develop their own spin on it can reap great results. Here’s where I believe the powers that be and likely Miz and Ambrose themselves have looked back over what’s worked in WWE and borrowed ideas, then used them to build their feud.

The Everyman Wrestler

Sometimes a term used to refer to Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ambrose is portrayed as a normal everyday guy. He wears clothes ‘normal people’ wear, doesn’t have an air of grandeur or arrogance. Ambrose typifies a guy who won’t back down and if he gets a beating in the process, then so be it (think Brock Lesnar), but that gets over with the fans. The regular Joe at work, struggling against authority to survive, just like us.

The Suited Heel with the Big Mouth

Take your pick form WWE’s past here. I’ve always liked the heel champions addressing the crowd dressed in sharp suits, expensive shoes and sunglasses – indoors of course. The gold championship reflecting in the lenses as they smile, readying themselves to trash everyone in attendance. Miz is on another level doing this routine, on par with classic heel Jericho. The role is perfect for him, which is why it works.

The Woman at her Man’s Side

Maryse’s return has been much better than I expected. I like her because she’s not a shy flower in the background, shrieking when Miz gets smacked in the ring. She’s a cynical, plotting partner, pacing at ringside like a predator, always watching, and waiting for an opportunity to cheat in order for her man to win. The perfume sprays to Ziggler, the catching the feet of running opponents, standing in front of Ambrose, because let’s face it, the good guy can’t and won’t hit a lady. She plays the part to perfection.

Renee Young is a little more reserved, but her presence at Ambrose’s side evens the odds. Although she isn’t as devious as Maryse, she can ensure Ambrose will get a fair crack at Miz by keeping a watchful eye on proceedings. She also draws sympathy from the fans, which seeing as Ambrose is the tough brawler, is an element he needs that brings the feud to another level. Her involvement shows the thought process behind this feud and how the writers know the different elements they need to bring in order for it to work.

Making It Personal

We’ve heard stories about how backstage bickering and some promos crossed the line, both in storyline and behind the scenes. Comments and verbal attacks that are close to the bone strike chords with the fans. If it brings a reaction from you, then it has worked.

Miz’s well-known rant at Daniel Bryan on Talking Smack showed a truly fantastic trait to his character. He hit several nerves, dug up the past and did it all with passion and realism. Maryse smirking in the background, egging him on made it all the more heelish.

His latest attack on Renee Young in the ring may not have been as venomous as the Bryan comments, but it was on the same line of thinking. The crowd reaction showed it worked. Upping the ante of a feud from Guy A doesn’t like Guy B because of blah blah blah is generic and boring. Making it personal, shifting the focus from the ring to what goes on behind the curtain, turns it up a notch.

I remember CM Punk and Triple H arguing in the ring years ago. When Punk said “this isn’t CM Punk talking to Triple H, this is Phil Brooks talking to Paul Levesque”, the crowd reacted. It was clear this was personal. It was different. It was better.

While this feud is well under way and may be planned to last only until the next PPV, I think it could eclipse the Miz/Ziggler feud if given enough time. I hope WWE don’t want to rush into reuniting the Shield as I believe they need Ambrose more than he needs them. I haven’t even mentioned the Intercontinental Title once, and not to consider it a secondary factor in the mix, but it goes to show how two talented performers (four if you count Maryse and Renee) can carry interest on their own without the need for a belt. Having the title in the mix will help to make it more important I hope. Miz calls it a prestigious title and he’s right about that. I just hope the pair can continue on to give us a feud worthy of such a belt. If they need any inspiration, there are lots of examples in the history of WWE.

What do you think? Will Miz/Ambrose be a long-term feud? Does the inclusion of Maryse and Renee make it better? Does the Shield need Dean Ambrose more than he needs them? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.