When The Miz made his WWE debut in April 2006, no one—outside of maybe himself—expected him to last very long.
In fact, many were surprised he even made it to the company in the first place. Yet, here we are six years later, and The Miz is still around, with absolutely no signs that that will change anytime soon.
While The Miz still has as many haters now as he did back in 2006, he’s also worked his tail off to get something else: respect.
Often considered a joke and an outcast because of his reality-TV roots early on in his WWE career, The Miz has evolved into one of the biggest stars in the company and now has the respect that comes along with it.
Six years ago, no one could have ever anticipated that The Miz would do anything of note in the WWE, but he’s already exceeded any and all expectations that anyone—other than himself—ever really had of him.
Even when The Miz first appeared on WWE TV as the host of SmackDown back in mid-2006, he was portrayed as, well, basically a joke. He was a somewhat goofy guy who didn’t have the respect of the boys in the back.
Once he turned heel and stepped into the ring later that year, not much changed, either. Though he went on a decent winning streak to start off his in-ring career, he didn’t really strike the fans as someone with a very bright future in the WWE.
But The Miz’s fortunes turned around when he was drafted to ECW in June 2007.
It was on the WWE’s “C-brand” that The Miz began to make a name for himself, getting involved in the ECW championship picture (he faced CM Punk for the title at Cyber Sunday, but lost) before eventually uniting with John Morrison and winning the WWE Tag Team Championship in November 2007.
In February 2008, The Miz and Morrison would debut a WWE.com talk show called The Dirt Sheet that began to showcase The Miz’s charisma and highlight his abilities as a talker. Even so, there was still widespread chatter that he would become the “Jannetty” whenever he and Morrison split.
Although The Miz and Morrison would drop the tag team titles in a Fatal 4-Way match at The Great American Bash in 2009, it didn’t take them very long to regain tag team gold. In December, they won the World Tag Team Championship but would go on to lose the belts in a tag team-title-unification match at WrestleMania 25 in 2009.
By this point, The Miz had developed a reputation as a quality tag team wrestler, but beyond that, no one was sure he’d ever be able to make it on his own.
Yet, The Miz indeed went solo in April 2009 when he was drafted to Raw, turned on Morrison and tried to make his mark on the WWE’s flagship show.
He instantly went after Raw’s top dog, John Cena, but as expected, he wasn’t ever really booked like a serious threat to “The Champ.” Shortly thereafter, The Miz revealed some new ring gear and his new “Skull-Crushing Finale” finisher, both of which allowed me to take him much more seriously as a rising WWE superstar.
His previous ring gear didn’t even look like something a wrestler would wear, and his neck-breaker finisher was one of the weakest ones in all of the WWE.
But the new and improved Miz would soon challenge for the United States championship, failing to win the title at three straight pay-per-views before eventually defeating Kofi Kingston on Raw in October 2009 to win his first-ever singles championship in the WWE.
When The Miz did this, he had done something no one ever thought he would do. But this was only the beginning of what would turn out to be a very successful few years for him.
At the 2009 Survivor Series pay-per-view, The Miz would captain a five-man team against his former tag team partner John Morrison, a match in which he was one of three survivors on the winning squad.
In early 2010, The Miz began aligning himself with The Big Show during a feud with MVP, and the two would eventually unite as ShoMiz to win the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship and successfully defend the belts against, oddly enough, Morrison and R-Truth at WrestleMania 26.
Right around the same time, The Miz began a rivalry with his “rookie” on the inaugural season of WWE NXT, Daniel Bryan. After he and Big Show dropped the tag team titles, The Miz (who was still holding the United States championship) lost the belt to Bret Hart (yes, Bret Hart). However, he would win the U.S. title for the second time in a Fatal 4-Way match on the June 14 episode of Raw.
The Miz was also named a pro for the second season of NXT, during which he would mentor Alex Riley, who would become his protégé of sorts even after Season 2 of NXT concluded.
While still holding the United States championship, The Miz would go on to make the biggest splash of his career up to that point: winning the Money in the Bank match at the inaugural Money in the Bank PPV in July.
In doing so, The Miz had developed quite the resume in just four years on the main roster: multiple-time tag team champion, two-time United States champion and Money in the Bank winner.
The Miz would hit a minor blip in the road when he lost his United States title to his long-time rival Daniel Bryan at the 2010 Night of Champions pay-per-view and then yet another one when he captained Team Raw in a losing effort at Bragging Rights.
But not long after, he added the biggest piece to his already impressive resume—a WWE Championship victory.
On the Nov. 22 Raw, The Miz cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Randy Orton to win his first-ever world title in the WWE and would follow up the biggest victory of his career with successful title defenses against John Morrison, Jerry Lawler and Randy Orton before kicking off a WrestleMania rivalry with John Cena.
It was April 3, 2011, when The Miz shocked the world by defeating Cena in the main event of WrestleMania 27 (albeit with help from The Rock). However, The Miz lost the title to Cena the following month at Extreme Rules, and his reign as WWE Champion, though lengthy, is widely recognized is a rather lackluster one in which he wasn’t booked very strongly.
Following his departure from the WWE title scene, The Miz moved on to a short feud with former protégé Alex Riley and then united with R-Truth because the two stars thought that WWE officials had a “conspiracy” against them.
The Truth/Miz duo—collectively known as “Awesome Truth”—wreaked havoc throughout most of the remainder of 2011, feuding with the likes of Air Boom, Triple H and CM Punk before making a huge impact at Hell in a Cell by interrupting the WWE Championship match and attacking the three superstars (Punk, Cena and Alberto Del Rio) in the bout.
After both were suspended, The Miz and Truth would be reinstated by interim GM John Laurinaitis and continued attacking various other superstars before being defeated by The Rock and Cena in the main event at Survivor Series.
Shortly after the pay-per-view, The Miz turned on R-Truth by hitting him with a Skull-Crushing Finale and then lost a Triple Threat WWE Championship match at WWE TLC in December 2011. The Miz, however, would go on to have one of the most impressive performances of his WWE career at the 2012 Royal Rumble, where he entered first and lasted longer than any other superstar.
The Miz would take a big plunge down the card, though, becoming a glorified jobber on the road to WrestleMania 28 before surprisingly picking up the win for Team Johnny at the pay-per-view, saving Laurinaitis’ job in the process.
The Miz wouldn’t make much noise shortly after WrestleMania 28 and missed two months of action to film The Marine 3 but made a surprising return (with a new fauxhawk-less look, I might add) in the WWE Championship Money in the Bank match at the Money in the Bank PPV, though it was in a losing effort.
But luckily for The Miz, he made yet another huge splash on Raw 1000 on July 23, defeating Christian to win the Intercontinental championship for the first time in his career. He would successfully defend his title in a rematch against Christian, against Rey Mysterio at SummerSlam and then in a Fatal 4-Way match at Night of Champions.
Is The Miz on track for a Hall of Fame caliber career?
All I have to ask is this: When you just take a look at The Miz’s career highlights, how can you not be impressed?
He has been a consistent force in storylines throughout his career, won five different major titles and a Money in the Bank match, main-evented WrestleMania, and competed against The Rock in his first match in seven years.
When The Miz debuted six years ago, no one would have ever imagined that he would win so much as one singles title. At age 31, he’s already held every active title in the WWE, except for the World heavyweight championship.
He’s probably not even halfway through his WWE career, yet he’s already put together a resume that is better than 90 percent of the company’s roster.
While The Miz has certainly had his ups and down, his awfully impressive resume should speak for itself. But if it doesn’t, then The Miz won’t hesitate to remind you that he’s the most must-see WWE champion in history.
That may not be true, but hey, The Miz is one of the biggest stars in the WWE, and chances are, you never saw that coming.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!