Disclaimer: If you don't think The Miz deserves more of a push than he is currently receiving, if you can't stand The Miz and don't think he should get any push at all, then you will disagree with every point in this article.
Do yourself a favor: don't bother reading the article, just skip to the comments and tell us all five things you hate about The Miz. This article (and this author) are extremely pro-Miz. You've been warned.
When The Miz first appeared on Tough Enough in 2004, no one took him seriously. He was just another career reality television star with a strong personality and familiarity that would help drive the ratings for the show's fourth season.
Two years later, after spending time with Ohio Valley Wrestling and hosting the 2005 Diva Search, The Miz finally debuted in a WWE ring.
Viewed as a reality star living out an extended 15 minutes of fame, The Miz would spend the next three years solidifying himself as a stellar mid-card performer, capturing multiple tag team championships, the US Championship, and eventually the Money In The Bank briefcase.
The height of his career came in 2010 when The Miz walked into WrestleMania 27 as the WWE Champion, headlined the event by defending against John Cena, and left WrestleMania still holding the WWE Championship.
In just two-and-a-half years, his trajectory has changed dramatically. No longer a headliner at the top of WWE's card, The Miz is struggling to stay at the same level as guys like Kofi Kingston and Santino Marella, while superstars like Daniel Bryan and Damien Sandow are seeing their careers pushed right past The Miz.
After The Miz failed to recapture the WWE Championship, and it was clear that he was no longer king of the mountain, his future seemed bleak. Then he was teamed up with R-Truth, working a gimmick in which they believed that there was a conspiracy to hold them out of the main event picture. It seemed as though this gimmick would put The Miz back in the title hunt, even if he did have to beat out R-Truth for the spot.
Unfortunately, shortly after putting over The Rock and John Cena at Survivor Series, "Awesome Truth" was dissolved and The Miz would only flirt with WWE Championship opportunities over the next few months. Before long, The Miz was nothing more than a glorified jobber for the upper-tier superstars.
Then The Miz hooked up with John Lauranaitis. One year after winning the headlining match at WrestleMania, The Miz was relegated to a 12-man tag team match, fueling the feud between Johnny Ace and Teddy Long. The Miz scored the winning fall, and was promised by the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations that he would be rewarded.
WWE dropped the ball with that storyline, one of a plethora of stories that annually get put on the back-burner and left to fade from memory without any real resolution. The Miz would need something else to climb back up the ranks.
The next six months would include a lot of The Miz doing the job, a two-month absence, and an eventual return at Money In The Bank. He competed for a few mid-card titles before finally taking the Intercontinental Championship from Christian at the infamous Raw 1000.
When The Miz won the Intercontinental Championship, I thought there was a glimmer of hope for his future. A dominant run like that of Cody Rhodes would firmly establish him on top of the rest of the mid-card, an improvement from his status over the last couple of years. He held the title through SummerSlam, and a run that lasted at least through the Royal Rumble would have made The Miz a very believable, dominant IC champion.
But less than three months after claiming the IC title for the first time, The Miz dropped the title to Kofi Kingston for his fourth reign.
So where can The Miz go from here?
As with almost anyone that loses a championship, The Miz is very angry and has become obsessed with winning back his championship.
For someone that headlined WrestleMania less than two years ago, simply losing a rematch and moving on from the Intercontinental Championship, looking as weak as ever, will only kill any momentum The Miz has built up since his return at Money In The Bank.
If they want to continue to keep The Miz relevant for years to come, they must handle this situation correctly. It can't, can't, can't be a scenario in which The Miz loses at HIAC and then moves on to another mid-card feud. His current obsession with the belt is fine, so they have two directions they can go with The Miz from here.
Option 1: Above And Beyond
If WWE Creative really wants Kofi Kingston to hold the Intercontinental Championship, then The Miz is going to have to take a loss without looking like a complete chump. This can be done in a couple of different ways, but I like to think my idea is the best way.
After a match in which The Miz hits the Skull-Crushing Finale while the referee is unable to make the count, Kofi eventually hits the Trouble In Paradise, and The Miz takes the fall.
Post-match, The Miz is livid in a way we've never seen him before. He absolutely destroys Kofi, whether by means of chairs, tables, fists, what-have-you.
Once Kofi has been laid out for good, The Miz picks up the IC title, spits on it and says he doesn't need that strap anymore. He tells Kofi he can keep the belt, because The Miz is no longer interested in obtaining that belt: he's moving on to the regaining the WWE Championship.
Backstage, The Miz stares down CM Punk as he is getting ready to defend the WWE Championship. He tells Punk that if the Second City Saint somehow retains his title after meeting Ryback in the Cell, that The Miz will be right on his heels.
Over the next couple of months, The Miz is involved in several opportunities to become the No. 1 Contender.
Whether or not he achieves it right away, The Miz will once again be in the mix among the top tier athletes, he can easily slide into a feud with someone else near the top, and he remains a permanent fixture in the main event scene until he is finally given the chance to be a World Champion again.
Option 2: The First of Many
At HIAC, The Miz does whatever is necessary to recapture the upper-mid-card title and leaves Atlanta as the born-again Intercontinental Champion.
At what level should The Miz be competing at this point in his career?
Over the next couple of months, The Miz returns to dominating the IC scene again.
The Miz can head up a traditional Survivor Series team at this November's pay-per-view, facing a team captained by his new No. 1 Contender. At TLC in December, The Miz successfully defends against the No. 1 Contender, carrying the title to the Royal Rumble.
At the Royal Rumble, The Miz gets the "Ultimate Warrior" idea in his head (just like Rhodes* did), and claims that he will win the Royal Rumble and go on to leave WrestleMania 29 with the IC and WWE Championships.
He is so preoccupied with this that it is clear he is underestimating his opponent (someone like Tyson Kidd, perhaps). This leads to The Miz losing the IC title, as well as failing to win the Royal Rumble match.
* I really like the idea of several IC Champs over the next year or so claiming they want their "Ultimate Warrior moment." Keep it up until they let someone else accomplish the goal. Insert your favorite up-and-comer in that spot.
The next night on Monday Night Raw, The Miz wins the IC Title back. He begins to build around the idea of the "era" in which he was IC Champion, regardless of whether he loses it and has to win it back.
As March rolls around, The Miz still has the Intercontinental Championship. With about a week to go, they still haven't determined an opponent for The Miz on "the grandest stage of them all.
The Miz complains, the GM is annoyed, an IC match gets set up for that episode of Raw/Main Event/SmackDown. The Miz, claiming to be completely unprepared, drops the title again. At WrestleMania, he wins it back yet again.
The post-WrestleMania run would be the last leg of this epic Intercontinental reign. While the story proves that "anyone can win on any given night," it also shows that The Miz may lose the occasional battle, but rarely loses the war. He then moves on to an upper-card feud, and begins competing for the WWE Championship once again.
Love him or hate him, you can't deny that The Miz knows how to get a reaction from the crowd. Time and time again, The Miz has exceeded our expectations. He pulls of the arrogant heel gimmick as well as if he created the idea himself. While he may never have the in-ring skills of a Daniel Bryan or a Shawn Michaels, he has proven that he can hold his own in a conniving, smash-mouth style.
From jobbing for the US Champion to headlining WrestleMania, The Miz has proven that he is a unique talent with nothing but potential for the next ten years. Let's just hope WWE books him properly at HIAC and forever thereafter.