Miz the Role Model…
“My son is running around the house acting like The Miz,” said one of my close friends the other night. Her son is six and a burgeoning wrestling fan. (He still calls it “boxing.”) Spurned on mostly by his love of Smackdown vs Raw 2008, my friend’s young son is slowing gaining an interest in the art form that brings us here today. While just young enough to be kept from watching it too much (Buuutttttt Mom!) he did just so happen to be flipping the channels during the east coast fed of this week’s Raw while his Mom cooked dinner. He stopped on “boxing” right as The Miz was smacking John Cena upside his mug with the WWE championship belt. And this six-year-old thought that was… well… awesome. He then spent the rest of the night “acting” like the Miz.
My friend asked, “Does (The) Miz always wear that shirt with the name tag on it?”
“Most of the time,” I said while looking at the one I own hanging in my closest. “He kinda wears a suit more these days.” I then tried to explain to her that at some point or another most mid-card grapplers working their way to the main event usually don a suit to help build that main event cred. I don’t know if it’s the Ric Flair factor, but it seems par for the course. “Someone should write a WrestleZone article about it,” I said aloud. My friend had stopped listening by the time I got to JBL or Jericho being the one to do it late in the game as an overall image switch. She didn’t care. She just wanted to know more about her son’s new idol.
“Well, I think I’m going to have to buy one now. Is the Miz a good guy?”
“No!” I shot back. “Not at all. He’s dastardly. A real heel who is only getting better. I hope he keeps the title at WrestleMania. I mean he won’t, but…”
She cut me off, clearly not caring about my WWE booking dreams, “Well, I want my son to root for the good guy. Is that guy in the jean shorts good?”
“Yes, but don’t let your son root for John Cena.”
“Long story. So when are you ordering your son a Miz T-shirt? They’re awesome.”
“I don’t know. He keeps asking me what a candy ass is? I don’t think we’re ready for wrestling.”
And right there, in that conversation, I was reminded of three very important things about pro wrestling and the WWE today. First, it really is about building the next generation of fans. Second, if you’re still building that new fanbase it is risky to let it slip back to the Attitude era… even to PG 13. And third, The Miz is a lot cooler than we adults sometimes want to believe. (Well, those of you that DON’T own Miz merchandise.)
I started watching wrestling right around six or seven. That seems to be the right age. Of course, I took it for what it appeared to be: Two guys in their underwear fighting for their lives. I remember watching a Don Muraco squash match one Saturday morning and feeling absolutely terrified for the punching bag that was facing off with the Magnificent one. (“Mommy, that other guy is way bigger than him!!) By eight I was attempting to do the Jimmy Snuka splash from the top of the playground equipment at my church or school. by thirty-three I was dressing as Roddy Piper for Halloween. But, what I find interesting is that it is not the violence that gets parents worried, it’s what these cartoon-like wrestlers are saying that causes the remotes to be grabbed. I guess it is just better to clothesline your friend on the playground then it is to clothesline him and call him a Candy Ass. And, well, I completely understand. It is one thing to have a six year-old run up to you and pretend to drop kick you, it’s another thing to him have cut a dirty word-laced promo on you before doing it.
This is why the WWE should tighten up the reigns again once Rock and Austin go back to the movies and NBC’s Chuck guest spots. Though, don’t get me wrong, as an adult who is allowed to call someone a Candy Ass, it has been really fun to see and hear that late nineties edge start to poke it’s head back onto my TV screen. It’s not the right time to go back to that. Vince still needs a future generation of fans and a good parent WILL be discerning when it comes to what words and images go into little brains. It’s hard enough when most deodorant commercials double as soft core porn during prime time shows. You can’t have sixty year-old men bleeding out every match on your wrestling show. (No, really, TNA, you can’t.) And Vince also needs his next generation of fans to latch onto his next generation of stars.
It would appear that is happening. You may not believe Miz as the champion, but there is a little six year-old in Southern California who does and ten years from now… twenty years from now… he’ll be telling someone of the good ole’ days when The Miz was the greatest must see champion of all-time. Dirty mouth and all.
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