Both men rank as two of WWE's best heels today. Both rankle their foes with verbal gut punches. Both have egos the size of a small European nation. But who is the more captivating WWE villain right now?
Owens, the former United States champ, has been showing off his mercilessness in a battle with the SmackDown commissioner. His quest to regain the U.S. title has his ranting on about how McMahon is out to get him. It has allowed him to showcase his heel acumen arguably better than any of his WWE feuds to date.
While clinging tight to the Intercontinental Championship, The Miz has been a tremendous irritant.
He's dismissive, cowardly, self-centered and showy. And regardless of how bright the spotlight it, The A-Lister looks every bit like a main eventer each night.
To decide who edges out who, we take a look at The Miz and Owens' character work, interviews and overall heel tactics.
The Case for Owens
As McMahon has found out in the early stages of their rivalry, Owens is a sharp-tongued scoundrel with no mercy in his heart.
He is a smooth, convincing talker. He talks trash as good as anyone in WWE right now. And whether he's being petulant, incensed, arrogant or unhinged, Owens nails every performance.
On Tuesday's SmackDown, he threatened to sue McMahon and take over SmackDown. Owens was effectively slimy and unnervingly giddy about the chaos he intended to cause.
There is often logic to his villainous motivation. He's a believable bad guy, not some cartoon. He's not over the top until he needs to be, instead often opting for a calculated, calm tone in the vein of 2008 era Chris Jericho or Nick Bockwinkel from years ago.
As the Shoulders Up podcast pointed out, KO has been able to make an impact regardless of the quality of the story around him:
Owens gets bonus points for so effectively carrying his character in the ring.
No one is better at insulting an opponent during actual in-ring action. He growls and mocks his foes while kicking their ass. There is no chance to forget he's a hateable person.
KO even extends his act beyond the scope of TV. He is a savage to anyone who steps to him on Twitter. And in a throwback to heels of yesteryear, he berated a young boy in the audience and then mocked the kid's mom afterward.
The Case for The Miz
It may have taken years for everyone to recognize it, but The Miz's excellence is undeniable.
He has established himself as one of WWE's best actors, mic workers and overall villains. He's snide and cocky, prone to tantrums and an unapologetic elitist. It all adds up to grade-A heel work.
Wrestling Inc is right to praise him emphatically:
He has perfected his gimmick in recent years. Every element of his braggadocious character is designed to irk—the way he walks, the way he slips his sunglasses off, how holds his hand up to signal that he wants the crowd to be silent.
The Miz has fine-tuned the details of his act and embraced his role so wholeheartedly that it's easy to forget that he's not actually this jerk we see on camera.
Nothing showcased his mic skills like his implosions on Talking Smack. The Miz turned that post-SmackDown show into a must-watch hit. He created a flood of buzz each time he went off on SmackDown general manager Daniel Bryan.
More recently, he absolutely carried the feud against Dean Ambrose, playing the perfect condescending antagonist. And when WWE needed a means to introduce Jason Jordan as a solo act, it had him clash with The Miz.
In his exchanges with the emerging star, The Miz poked at his foe, making things personal and masterfully exposing Jordan's weak points.
With The Miztourage now at his side, The Miz has had an extra element to play with. He boasts about changing Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel's lives and careers. He is a grating peacock with a loyal flock of minions behind him.
The Miz has made the familiar arrogant heel trope feel fresh and electric.
The Miz is rarely outdone as a heel, but Owens has simply been tremendous. KO can claim the top villain crown for the moment.
Where The Miz's underhanded tactics and constant interference are tried-and-true bad-guy elements, Owens' midmatch mockery is more fun to watch. Thanks to his comments during the action, The Prizefighter can make a reverse chinlock a memorable moment.
His character work is outstanding and is hitting a higher gear opposite McMahon.
It helps that Owens is more a more imposing threat than The Miz. The A-Lister feels like a gnat at times; KO is a bloodthirsty shark. He can back up all his insults and verbal low blows with hammering strikes and the ability to leave his foes out cold.
Back in February, Rickie Starcher of Ringside News called Owens "the absolute best heel in the WWE."
That statement only rings truer today. KO has since became unraveled after winning and losing the U.S. title. His white-knuckled rage and his growing paranoia has been a joy to watch.