The Miz is Awesome, and You're Not
Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin, for many armchair critics and workrate-obsessed fans, is the worst aspects of professional wrestling all rolled into one package. A former reality TV star, Miz broke into the business through his psuedo-celebrity connections, used by WWE as a mainstream media pawn in their grand chessboard of marketing, and is known to work a safe, if not downright boring style.
At one point I counted myself in that group of people more than willing to jump on the “Miz Sucks” bandwagon. Yet, the land of opportunity that is the new Smackdown! Live has given the Cleveland native a new lease on life and a chance to show how brilliant he is as a performer, wrestler, and manipulator of the public.
In other words: The Miz is awesome. Deal with it.
Before being drafted to Smackdown earlier this year, The Miz was a wrestler in a rut. While never out of the upper mid-card spotlight, his performances and storylines lacked the buzz generated by his past program with Damien Sandow.
In many ways the return of real-life wife and manager Marisse was the turning point. Before, The Miz was played as a Hollywood phony, and that was the only facet of the character that was emphasised. The character was one-note, lacking depth or the ability to create improvised moments.
The return of Marisse not only sparked a change in complexity in Miz as a character, but also brought back the archetype of the classic heel manager, something sorely lacking in modern WWE due to Vince McMahon’s long-rumored hatred of managers.
The true explosion of Miz and his potential came with Daniel Bryan’s newfound role as authority figure on Smackdown! Live. Miz’s pseudo-shoot promo on Talking Smack that railed against Bryan’s claims that Miz was a poor wrestler, a coward, and the type of performer that emphasises the WWE style was nothing short of masterful.
Turning the hypocrisy of Bryan around on itself, Miz tore through every complaint made against him, using them as reasons why he’s the best the company has to offer. In many ways this promo highlighted Miz as the last of a dying breed; a throwback to how heels in the 70s and 80s would work and talk.
Week by week The Miz has continued building on that promo, going as far as taunting the crowd with Bryan’s own mannerisms and stealing the former champion’s moveset. Miz has showcased an in-ring style that modern fans who scream about the number of stars in a match rating have long forgotten. Much like Kevin Owens, The Miz is telling a story in the ring and using the psychology of “boring wrestling” to work the crowd into a shoot and detail his character’s personality all at once. As Steve Austin has said in the past, you need to work smarter, not harder.
However, the thing that separates Miz most from the pack is his ability to extemporaneously speak while still acting, something that we’ve only seen from the likes of The Rock, Hulk Hogan, and Bobby Heenan. The perfect example of this occurred on the November 29 episode of Talking Smack, which saw Miz hosting the post-show as Mike Mizanin.
Throughout the half-hour broadcast Mike turned his persona on and off, breaking every rule of the 4th wall and kayfabe and providing some of the hardest laughs I’ve had while watching a WWE product. What matters most is that he did this while speaking with charisma and fluidity, never sounding like he was reading a script or memorized lines.
You can’t teach that kind of spontaneity and charisma. The Miz is an asset to WWE in that regard, as he’s one of the few members of the roster who can jump into any situation and perform at the highest caliber.
All of these things has been in the service of building a top-notch feud with Dolph Ziggler that has done most of Smackdown’s heavy lifting in terms of quality. Ziggler’s in-ring workrate is the perfect compliment to everything The Miz brings to the table, and we’re all witness to something special.
Somewhere down the road I suspect The Miz will get the credit he deserves, as future fans sing his praises and highlight a career that always flew under the radar.
After all, The Miz may not be AJ Styles or John Cena, but he is awesome. Don’t forget it.