Stephanie McMahon's scathing promo on the Miz this past week on Raw could have passed for a shoot promo given its level of honesty.
As McMahon took the stage, cutting down the Miz for his career stagnation, the WWE vice president fulfilled her objective of building heat for herself.
Unfortunately, the execution of this otherwise simple goal was comparable to killing an ant with a sledgehammer.
In an art-imitating-life segment of MizTV, McMahon described the Miz as a "utility player" who "peaked too early."
Considering Miz's precipitous decline since defending the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXVII once upon a time, it's understandable how one could feel this way about him.
As a WWE executive, however, Stephanie McMahon is responsible for extinguishing specifically damaging thoughts of this nature rather than evoking them.
McMahon's promo mirrored message-board barbs a promoter could hide from casual fans through clever commentary and storytelling ("The Miz was once WWE Champion, but now he goes after the prestigious WWE Intercontinental Championship once held by the likes of Randy Savage.")
The scripted nature of WWE makes comments made by Stephanie McMahon seem OK as long as she gets what's coming to her while portraying the heel. But if the Miz isn't the one to deliver that comeuppance, these very personal criticisms are only validated.
Miz has failed to capture the WWE Championship since losing the title over two years ago, and he has become content competing for the same secondary championships he won as a hungry up-and-comer. Miz seems far from equipped to successfully seek any measure of payback, making Monday's segment seem more like a killshot.
CM Punk brought to light his own frustrations with a career going nowhere during a famed promo in 2011. This worked because CM Punk was presented as a Superstar who knew he was better than how he was being booked.
It was also effective because Punk was pushed as a vigilante who sought justice for himself. CM Punk's monumental WWE Championship win, in his hometown of Chicago over top star John Cena, diffused any whispers of him not being worthy.
Daniel Bryan being presented as a "troll" who once wrestled in high school gyms and armories will eventually work in his favor for the same reasons.
With Daniel Bryan being the central babyface figure of this entire angle, the Miz looks to be a sacrificial lamb in the process of elevating Bryan as a permanent top star.
There will be no WWE Championship in Miz's immediate future, which doesn't bode well for the Cleveland native as the McMahon-Bryan angle drags on.
If the Miz is simply a stepping stone whose revenge is felt vicariously through Bryan's conquest, he may never recover.
There are several ways WWE could have furthered heat for members of the corporation without sacrificing yet another babyface.
The demand for a Big Show punch alone could have been enough. Scripted verbal attacks on the Miz's parents would have been comparably generic.
Instead, WWE made a mockery of a work ethic that has been praised by WWE workaholic John Cena himself.
In 2011, Cena noted the following on Twitter:
CeNation. I do not think there is anyone in the WWE that works harder outside the ring than The Miz. That type of effort is truly amazing.— John Cena (@JohnCena) July 11, 2011
It is great to see other superstars so passionate about this brand. His work does not go un noticed.— John Cena (@JohnCena) July 11, 2011
Boy, was he right. Miz's hard work was noticed by WWE only to be used against him.
The storyline did its job in building up evil boss lady Stephanie McMahon. But the longer the angle continues with Miz stuck in the midcard, the more mainstream fans will accept Miz's irrelevance as reality. Should that happen, Stephanie's shoot can be safely deemed counterproductive.
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