There I was, sitting first row in the second deck of The Georgia Dome at WrestleMania 27, with four grown men sitting behind me, in John Cena merchandise, crying. Legitimately crying that he had just been defeated by The Miz. That WrestleMania is universally panned as one of the worst, and rightfully so, but I remember feeling that night that The Miz had just vaulted himself into the next level in WWE. That rare air that only the likes of the two men he shared the ring with that evening, Cena and The Rock, had ever obtained. I always rooted for The Miz just because I was a fan of his from The Real World and the fact that he overcame so much just to even get to WWE. Then when he got to WWE, everything he had to endure that would drive any normal person to the brink of giving up and quitting forever. There I was though, standing in applause for him while watching the amazing video package made for that match, set to the tune of “Hate Me Now” by Nas. Seeing the swagger he carried on his way to the ring, knowing he belonged there whether any of us in the crowd felt the same. To me, there was no way they could screw this guy up. He was, to steal someone else’s phrase, the next big thing.
How wrong I was.
First, there was the reversal of fortunes against Cena, where he was absolutely buried for the next month and a half. That turned into a failed feud with Alex Riley, who they hoped would be the next big babyface, but now isn’t even in the company anymore. The Awesome Truth had some potential based on the reasoning they had to get together, but it was realized pretty quickly that all they were brought in for was to be fodder for The Rock & John Cena’s storyline. Things got so bad for The Miz in 2011-2012, that until he won the 12-Man Smackdown vs. Raw match at WrestleMania 28 for John Laurinaitis’ team, he had been on a 20 match losing streak.
Despite that win and an Intercontinental Title win that shockingly made him a Grand Slam Champion, something no one could’ve ever seen coming when he debuted, the next three years were not kind to The Miz. He was never able to recover from his failed babyface turn, which is probably where people officially gave up on him and didn’t see a future for him. A whole other column could be written about how bad that went for him. We all remember the “mentorship” with Ric Flair, right? Even when he went back heel and there was a glimmer of hope as he caught lightning in a bottle with Mizdow, we all know how horribly that was butchered. Miz gained nothing from it and Sandow was shortly thereafter wished all the best in his future endeavors.
Fast forward to the night after WrestleMania 32 when The Miz defeated Zack Ryder for the Intercontinental Title, with the help of the returning Maryse, who happens to be his real life wife. (At least if Miz had lost in his professional career, he sure had won in his personal life.) I remember being livid that he had defeated Ryder. Even taking away the fact that I’m a huge Ryder fan and wanted to see what he could do with a new reinvigorated push, The Miz was scorched earth at that point. Top of the bottom, bottom of the top, there was no repairing The Miz. As stated in full detail above, Miz hadn’t done anything of substance in over four years. Maryse hadn’t been seen in almost five years herself, so a lot of fans wouldn’t even know who she is and so what could she actually do for The Miz? This was a huge “Miz-take”.
Again, how wrong I was.
It’s ironic that The Miz prides himself on being a top actor for the WWE Studio movies he’s been a part of, because the last 6 months of The Miz’s career has been the ultimate redemption story that would play out fantastic in any movie. A man that had hit rock bottom and had absolutely no one believing in him anymore, continues to grind until finding that one break he needed, and using it to bring himself back to the top in a career renaissance. I’ve said in my contributions to the last few PPV Prediction pieces here at TJRWrestling, along with on The Match Beyond podcast that I host (cheap plug), that Kevin Owens and AJ Styles are 1A and 1B for MVP of 2016. I’m not saying that The Miz is in that league right now, but he’s at least given himself an argument. Also, to steal another sports analogy, he may not be the MVP but he’s sure as hell the Comeback Player of the Year.
The transformation officially began at Extreme Rules this year when he more than handled himself in a Fatal Four Way that included Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, & Cesaro. This was the ultimate example of, “one of these things is not like the other.” Yet, in a match that many felt he didn’t belong in due to the quality of wrestling the other three participants carry, The Miz successfully defended his title in what is regarded as one of the best WWE matches of the year. There was something different about this version of The Miz. It wasn’t just his in-ring work either. He had that confidence and swagger of 2011 back. A hot wife will apparently do that to you.
A good husband will always refer to his wife as the better half, and Miz would certainly be smart to feel that way about his wife, because Maryse has really been the catalyst for his resurgence. Maryse is obviously someone that is easy on the eyes and fantastic to look at. However, she brings a quality to the programming that no one else has right now. Valets and managers are highly underutilized right now. Rusev was able to use Lana to his benefit for the most part, but Miz is taking full advantage of having his wife by his side. Even in some less than stellar storylines with Darren Young and Apollo Crews, this is when Miz proved that he was something different because you couldn’t help but notice him and Maryse still. In subpar storylines, they still came across as superstars. There was a slight speed bump though when he was fed to the returning Randy Orton on the debut episode of Smackdown Live. Had those last couple of storylines for The Miz not been a fluke? Would Smackdown really not feature the Intercontinental Title like it should? Well, as any actor will tell you, they just need the spotlight, and they’ll take it from there and make it work.
“I’m the one that loves the fans! I’m the one that loves everyone and everything and you’re the one who gets up and walks away! I am not a coward. I am your Intercontinental Champion and there’s a reason I have the title! The reason? I’m making this the most relevant and prestigious title WWE has and I deserve the respect on Smackdown Live. Get that camera right here! Understand, that this is day 141 of the never-ending Intercontinental Championship world tour and I swear to you, I promise you, it would be the best and most relevant title on Smackdown Live. I could care less about those little kids out for the tag team titles. And the Women’s Championship. And the WWE Championship. This…. is my show! My Show! And I’m sick of all of you, my GM, sitting there criticizing me calling me a coward. You’re the cowards! I’m the one here day in and day out in the wrestling ring beating people up! Thank you very much!” – The Miz, August 23rd on “Talking Smack”
There’s so much greatness, not just in this quote, but in the entire promo that Miz cut on Daniel Bryan during this episode of Talking Smack. The promo felt so real that when you watch Maryse behind him, she has no idea what to do. Even she was caught off guard. That promo was five years in the making. Five years of anger and frustration wrapped up into a promo of the year contender. That promo was a monkey off The Miz’s back. There was so much to say, but never the time to say it. He got the opportunity and just as he’s been doing since WrestleMania, he made the most of it. He made EVERYONE take notice. We don’t get to decide when he’s through and we don’t get to decide if he matters. He does. In an era where there aren’t many true heels, The Miz circles back to the days where the heel made you hate him, made you want to see him get his butt kicked, and made you leave angry you didn’t see it when he somehow squeezed out a win that night. Not only that, but as that promo on Talking Smack showed, he now has the number one feature that makes a great heel. He believes everything he says. He’s right and we’re all wrong, and we have been all along.
It’s ironic that Miz is heading into a match where he defends his Intercontinental Title against Dolph Ziggler’s career at No Mercy on October 9. Some would argue that Ziggler’s career has been over for a while now since WWE refused to pull the trigger on a full push for him. You need not look any further than Ziggler to show that if you are made to look uninspired and unimportant for months and years at a time, there’s no amount of fuel that can light that rocket again to get pushed. The Miz though, with his wife right beside him, is being the A-List actor he says he is and rewriting that script. This one is going to be have an AWESOME ending, and he’ll be damned if it doesn’t.