The Miz has been going through quite the character change as of late. He has recently turned baby face and, as a result, is playing up to the fans he once loathed. His annoying arrogance has turned into clever confidence, and everything he does now is in an effort to get on the good side of the WWE crowd. And that includes rubbing shoulders with The Nature Boy Ric Flair. But, does that even make sense?
Honestly, where did all of that come from? Though the spot with Flair happened well over a week ago, I am still trying to make sense of it.
The Miz, who has been doing all he can to get over in his new role, suddenly gets the rub from the man who is arguably the greatest of all time. And not only did this endorsement happen live on the 20th anniversary edition of Monday Night Raw, it came with the gift of Flair’s patented figure-four leglock, which has seemingly been bestowed upon Miz to use at his discretion.
As if a career heel attempting to get over as a fan favorite is not hard enough. Miz now has to contend with the added scrutiny of wrestling fans who are likely having some real fun pointing out that he is no Nature Boy.
The problem is, these are the same fans Miz is trying to please. They are the ones he is trying to garner support from. Miz will only succeed as a baby face if the crowd decides he deserves it and takes the time to invest in him.
Speaking of invest, what does this move say about WWE’s apparent belief that Miz deserves the attention of Ric Flair and the relevancy it brings from the industry? And make no mistake about it, when Flair puts his stamp of approval on a WWE Superstar, it means something.
Randy Orton was not always the battle-hardened veteran that fans see today. His upward climb came as a result of being in Evolution, the modern day Four Horsemen faction led by Triple H and The Nature Boy. Orton received invaluable support and direction from the 16-time World Champion on the air and off camera.
Batista was arguably nothing but your run-of-the-mill, muscled-up strongman, a guy who physically had all the potential to be a star but no path on which to make it happen. But when he shared the spotlight in Evolution, everything changed for him very quickly. Ask him how he feels about the impact that Ric Flair had on his career.
Hunter was the focus of Evolution, there is no doubt about it. But Ric was the heart and soul of the group, and just like the name suggests, he was essentially passing on his knowledge and his career to help the next generation grow into the superstars they could be.
But the biggest difference between then and now is that Evolution actually evolved. We saw it come together, witnessed the growth of Orton and Batista and how they realized their full potential in the business. We essentially “got it,” understood the concept and accepted both men based upon the rub that they both received.
However, the spot with Flair and The Miz came from out of left field, and as Miz now continues to work at getting over while making a mess of the figure four, I have to wonder if it should have happened in the first place.
For me, I initially saw the spot as nothing more than what it appeared to be: an opportunity to support Miz and hopefully sway some fans to him who respected and appreciated The Nature Boy. Though it was not what I would call the perfect segment, I saw it for what it was.
Until the next day, that is, when someone came up to me and asked “so, what do you think of Flair passing the torch to The Miz last night?”
Um, I’m sorry. What?
Now, that seems to be all we’re talking about in regards to these two. And while I believe that Miz definitely has earned some attention from WWE Creative and deserves something substantial in the company based upon his contributions, I question if this was the way to go.
Of course, if Flair were to continue appearing with Miz on TV, perhaps escorting him to the ring, speaking for him in promos, maybe even butting heads with other Superstars on Miz’s behalf, then that is something altogether different. Fans have talked for years about wanting to see Flair in a manager role similar to what he used to have in Evolution. The truth is that with enough time and good storylines featuring an alliance between him and The Miz, this could actually work and get over in a very big way.
But until that happens, I continue to scratch my head over the angle.
For me, the surprising association between Ric Flair and The Miz was a very well-intentioned segment that has fallen flat since it happened. Only time will tell where this could go, but as we watch Miz using Ric’s finisher, while it is a nice piece of nostalgia, I continue to wonder if it was somewhat ill-advised. Honestly, how far will it go?
“To be the man, you have to beat The Miz.” Doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it?