The Self-Made Champion: The Unlikely Rise of the Miz
Quick show of hands, when the Miz debuted back in 2006, how many of you thought you would be looking at a WWE champion?
My guess would be not many.
I, like many of you, was not wondering how far Mike Mizani would rise in the WWE when he first started appearing on Smackdown back in 2006, but rather how long would it take this tool to be future endeavored.
Hell, I thought he was dead in the water after this appearance on Monday Night Raw while he was hosting the Diva Search.
The Miz finally made his in-ring debut in a match against Tatanka back in September of 2006, and he basically became JBL’s whipping boy.
For a heel commentator, JBL was unusually harsh on the heelish Miz.
Years later, in one of his more memorable promos, Miz would mention the backstage torture he endured from many of the Superstars, spearheaded by JBL.
Miz sort of bounced around in the lower mid card and was more or less an afterthought until he was drafted to ECW in 2007.
This was unequivocally the turning point for the Miz during his time in the WWE.
He would have more of a chance to stand out and hone his promo skills in the minor leagues that was ECW while at the same time gradually improve his in-ring abilities as well.
While the Miz will never, ever be confused with Lou Thesz or Kurt Angle, few can argue at the leaps and bounds he has improved in the ring.
This is perhaps why the Miz is such a great story.
Here is a guy who for a long time was famous for his appearance on the Real World. I am just young (or old enough) to admit that I watched that season in New York, where the alter ego of the Miz was revealed to the world for the first time.
After several appearances on various Real World spinoffs, Miz was able to land a spot on fourth season of Tough Enough were he ultimately came in second place.
WWE officials took notice and signed Miz to a developmental contract.
Prior to some minor independent work in 2003, the Miz had never had any real training or background in wrestling.
That in itself is an amazing feat.
After some seasoning in Ohio Valley Wrestling, he was finally called up to the main roster in 2006, realizing his childhood dream.
As I mentioned earlier, there were many early hiccups along they way. There were several chances for the Miz to quit, but to his credit he stuck it out in order to pursue his dream.
As the years progressed, the Miz became much more comfortable on the mic and his in-ring abilities were constantly improving.
When the WWE draft split him up from longtime partner John Morrison, ending one of the most successful tag teams of the decade, many thought the end would be near for Miz.
He would not listen.
Once he was on his own, the Miz really began showing flashes of brilliance.
He would get on an absolute roll with his promos, so much so that he was able to go toe to toe with the WWE’s posterboy, John Cena.
Although he was buried (like so many others) at the end of his feud with Cena, Miz would reinvent himself again, and become more of the cold calculating heel in the mode of Chris Jericho,
His promos were still on point, but he now had more of an edge and some actual in-ring credibility.
He would also become a valuable marketing tool for the WWE.
The Miz became one the most approachable WWE superstars, and loves making appearances on behalf of the WWE.
Some might say this was just a way for the Miz to get a step up on the competition by making so many public appearances for the WWE, but if you followed the Miz for a lengthy period of time you know that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Ever since he was that dopey kid on the Real World, jumping around on couches and carrying his own WWE title belt, you could see the Miz had an unbridled passion for the wrestling business.
The passion was on display again this past Monday night when Miz cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and defeated Randy Orton to win his first world championship.
During the celebration, you can tell that Miz was hiding back the tears. He had finally climbed the mountain and proved all of the naysayers wrong.
I have seen some arguments here on B/R that the Miz isn’t ready to become the champ, or that it is a disgrace to the belt to have Miz as a champion.
My counter to the argument is simple: What is so wrong with striking while the iron is hot? The Miz is the best heel going in the WWE right now, he has some of the best (if not the best) mic skills in the company, and he can more than hold his own in the ring.
The rise of the Miz is one of the greatest stories in the history of the WWE, he is the epitome of the self-made man.
In fact, there is really only one word to describe this meteoric rise…
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