He may not be the most pushed wrestler, or one currently holding a world title, but The Miz is easily one of the best heels in the company.
While the talented, charismatic Miz has always had tons of potential as a heel, it is in recent months that he has truly blossomed as a performer.
Indeed, looking back, his hiatus over the summer to film The Marine: Homefront, the third installment of WWE Studios’ Marine franchise, was one of the best things that would have happened to his career.
Miz, whose career was struggling badly earlier in the year with him suffering loss after loss on television and pay-per-view, benefited hugely from the time off. Aside from getting the fans worked up and anticipated for his return, it allowed him to change his hair out a bit and grow himself some stubble.
For the role of a gruff, grizzled Marine, the usually well-groomed Miz had to drastically change his look, and, after filming was done, he decided to keep the new hairstyle. It’s a great look. One hindrance that Miz has faced as a top heel is the inability of some fans to take him seriously as a tough guy; the new appearance helps quell this problem considerably. He looks more grown up now, more easy to buy as a top contender.
So, Miz returned, and soon after (at Raw’s 1,000th episode) won the Intercontinental Championship from Christian. This has led to one of the best, most credible runs of his career.
Of course, Miz has always had arrogance and mic skills that comes with being a great heel but over the last two months, we’ve seen him have the top-notch in-ring skills to match.
Indeed, his television and pay-per-view bouts with Christian and Rey Mysterio have been the highlights of WWE programming, with Miz showing smoothness and polish in the ring that he lacked for much of his wrestling career up until now. While credit undoubtedly has to go to his (very talented) opponents as well, Miz has done more than his fair share of the work.
The change in his character helps as well. Previously, Miz had played the cowardly heel that did everything possible to avoid defending his title (see: his 2011 feud with John Cena). Now, Miz, feeling he has something to prove, is eager to get in there and mix it up with the midcard. For perfect evidence of this, look at the Night of Champions pay-per-view, where he took on Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes and Sin Cara in a fatal four-way and successfully defended his title.
He’s still a heel, of course, but thanks to his new attitude, and a booking team that taken him seriously, fans can now take him more seriously as a threat.
That’s not to suggest everything is smooth sailing from here. As last night’s Raw indicated, the Intercontinental Champion looks to be headed for a feud with rising star Ryback. If WWE books the monstrous Ryback to run through Miz with ease, like he has with all his other opponents, all his new-found credibility will be destroyed. This is something Miz should be aware of as he heads into the program, and, hopefully, he will stand up for himself to management a bit more, if it comes to it.
However, for the time being at least, Miz continues to excel in his role as a top heel, showing the in-ring skills, style and wit that makes him one of the company’s best young talents.