Just a little over a year ago, The Miz entered WrestleMania as WWE Champion and defended his title against John Cena in the main event. While he received help from The Rock, who restarted the match after it was initially ruled a double countout, Miz defeated Cena. Unfortunately for The Miz, that would prove to be his high-water mark.
Miz went on to drop the title to Cena at Extreme Rules, and he lost his ensuing rematches as well. Aside from a partnership with R-Truth, Miz hasn't been anywhere near the main-event scene ever since, and he seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle despite the star power that he so obviously brings to the table.
Keep reading for another edition of my 25-superstar countdown in which I break down the upside, direction and long-term potential of the most popular WWE wrestlers. Today's installment will include an in-depth analysis of The Miz and what his future holds in the company.
The Miz's story has been told many times, and it starts with him being a contestant on MTV's The Real World. It was there that Mike Mizanin introduced the world to The Miz character that he would go on to use in the WWE. Miz eventually qualified for the fourth season of Tough Enough, where he made it to the final round before losing to Daniel Puder. The WWE was impressed enough, however, that it signed Miz to a developmental contract.
Miz went on to compete in Deep South Wrestling, where he won the DSW Heavyweight Championship, as well as Ohio Valley Wrestling, where he was a one-time Tag Team Champion. Miz was promoted to SmackDown in 2006 in a non-wrestling capacity. Miz served as the show's "host" for a brief time but wasn't utilized much. Miz eventually became a heel and began competing in singles matches.
His first taste of true success came after he was drafted to ECW and teamed with John Morrison. Miz and Morrison would go on to become WWE Tag Team Champions, as well as World Tag Team Champions. Miz turned on Morrison in 2009 and cemented his heel status as a singles competitor. From that point he went on to win the United States Championship, the Money in the Bank ladder match and ultimately the WWE Championship.
With The Miz currently filming The Marine 3 for WWE studios, he hasn't been on television for a few weeks. Prior to leaving, however, The Miz was in a very bad way. Aside from getting the winning pinfall for Team Johnny at WrestleMania, it's difficult to remember a match that The Miz has won over the past several months. He has continually jobbed to the likes of Santino, Brodus Clay, Sheamus and others, and all the work that was done to make him a top guy has been ruined.
Perhaps Miz was being buried simply because the creative team knew that he would have to take some time off in order to shoot the film, but the way he was booked still rubs me the wrong way. Even though The Miz hasn't had the WWE Championship in over a year, making him lose to everyone and their mother devalues the title. People look at Miz and think to themselves that the title must be a joke if a guy who loses to Santino was able to hold it for about six months.
One can only hope that The Miz will be given proper build and a good storyline when he returns to action, but it is getting tougher and tougher to trust the writers. Keeping the vast majority of the roster relevant at one time isn't an easy task by any means. But the creative team is paid good money to do exactly that, and it hasn't held up its end of the bargain when it comes to Miz.
The Miz's detractors often refuse to admit it, but he is without question one of the best talkers in the business today. I wouldn't quite put him on the level of a guy like CM Punk, but if I were to compile a top-five list in terms of mic work, I would put Miz at No. 2. Considering how important it is to cut a promo during this era of wrestling, that gives Miz a major leg up on the competition and it makes him a main-event threat regardless of his other qualities.
I also love The Miz's character. It annoys me to no end when people say that he is attempting to rip off Chris Jericho because he wears suits and speaks slowly. I'm a big fan of Jericho's as well, but it isn't like he is the innovator of dressing nicely and enunciating. The Miz has a very clear persona that people are either going to enjoy or hate. He is a cocky, sharp-tongued heel who is out to annoy the top faces, and he did it with much success during his title run.
Another positive that Miz brings to the table is related more to what he does outside the ring. The WWE loves charismatic guys who it can put on talk shows, send to events and use to promote the product outside wrestling circles. Miz did that when he was WWE Champion, and he was able to pull it off as a heel. The Miz is a very personable guy, and that should help him go a long way in the business since the company feels it can trust him to be a good ambassador.
What is The Miz's biggest weakness?
The one thing that most people like to point to with regards to why The Miz shouldn't be a main-event guy is his wrestling ability. I don't believe Miz is as bad in the ring as many make him out to be, but he can definitely stand to improve. The good thing about Miz is that he has shown time after time that he is willing to put in work and get better. He went from being a very raw and bland in-ring performer when he first joined the company to becoming passable and capable of working with top guys.
One thing that is often said is that Miz can't be an elite guy because he can't put on a classic match. While Miz hasn't really put on a classic match yet, John Cena is a guy who has in-ring skills that are on par with or worse than Miz's and he has managed to have some pretty memorable bouts. I would call The Miz an average pure wrestler at this point, and while that may be holding him back a bit, he has the drive to reach new levels.
Also, no matter what The Miz does and how much he accomplishes, he will always have the stigma of being a reality star. The Miz was on The Real World over a decade ago, but those who dislike him still cling to it and claim that he isn't a real wrestler. The Miz has gone through all of the requisite training, though, and he is as legitimate as anyone. Miz clearly loves the business, but that isn't going to stop a sizable legion of fans from claiming that he is only in it to become a television star of some kind.
During The Miz's fairly lengthy reign as WWE Champion, he wasn't given many opportunities to put on long matches. On the occasions that he was, though, I thought that Miz did a very admirable job. One match in which he was allowed to showcase his skills was against John Morrison on RAW in early 2011. The past between Miz and Morrison was well documented as they were former tag-team partners and Morrison was out to win the WWE Championship.
The bout was a Falls Count Anywhere match, so it was clear from the beginning that it would be quite unpredictable. Morrison controlled much of the early part of the match and even injured Miz's protégé, Alex Riley. Miz got his licks in as well, though, and while Morrison was charged with doing many of the high-risk spots, there was a lot of substance to what Miz did in this match. I believe that he proved he can definitely put on an entertaining contest with a good worker.
Many considered this match to be the best of the year overall, or the best television match of the year at the very least. Detractors like to look back at Miz's title reign and say that he did nothing other than have forgettable matches with Cena and Jerry Lawler, but when he had a chance to do something special, he did against Morrison.
When Miz won Money in the Bank in late 2010 and cashed it in on Randy Orton to become WWE Champion, it seemed as though he had finally broken through and would be a main-eventer for the foreseeable future. Although some fans were unimpressed with his title reign, he did a lot of good things and it probably would have been looked upon more favorably had he been booked to get more clean victories.
In the end, Miz got a win over Cena at WrestleMania, but the Awesome One was ultimately gobbled up by the Cena machine like so many others before him. That wouldn't have been a big deal if the creative team would have allowed him to rebound, but he simply lost his rematches to Cena and then was owned in a feud with Riley. He gained a bit of his momentum back when he and R-Truth formed Awesome Truth, but Miz is a singles competitor and was being held down more than anything.
Miz has already done a lot at the age of 31 as he has won Money in the Bank, won the WWE Championship and main-evented WrestleMania, but he has a lot of time left to accomplish so much more. Even though things aren't looking great for The Miz at the moment, I fully expect him to be a multi-time world champion when everything is said and done.
How He Gets There
Will Miz establish himself as a top guy permanently?
I feel like Miz is an excellent heel. He has the skill set to be the company's top heel for a long time to come and can be the main antagonist against the likes of Cena, Orton, CM Punk and Sheamus. With the way things are breaking for The Miz now, though, this may be the time to turn him face. Miz is such a good talker that I am confident in his ability to play the sarcastic babyface that the fans can get behind. I try to shy away from comparing him to Jericho since so many people think that he is copying Y2J, but he would benefit from having a face character similar to Jericho's.
When the WWE casts somebody in a movie, it is generally a sign that they either are a face of the company or soon will be. The only time that didn't happen was with Ted DiBiase in The Marine 2, but the issue was that crowd reactions for Orton got so big that The Viper essentially usurped DiBiase's face turn and major push. There isn't anyone holding Miz back, though, so a face turn should work.
I understand that the main-event scene is kind of crowded in terms of faces, with Cena, Punk and Sheamus occupying the top of the card, but many fans are bored with Cena and people are becoming impatient with the title reigns of Punk and Sheamus as well. If Daniel Bryan defeats Punk for the WWE Championship, I would love to see Miz feud with him. Miz was Bryan's pro on NXT and a potential feud would create an interesting role reversal between the two.
Check back daily for new entries in this WWE 25-superstar countdown. Here are the five most recent editions for your viewing pleasure:
13. Lord Tensai
12. Sin Cara
11. Zack Ryder
10. Wade Barrett