Each week, WrestleZone columnist Michael Sullivan tackles an intriguing or controversial subject from the WrestleZone Forums.
The Miz Is Awesome
[from an initial forum post at http://forums.wrestlezone.com/showthread.php?t=259745]
Is there anyone in the WWE who inspires such a broad range of opinions as The Miz? User HereComesTheBrain calls Miz “by far the most underrated wrestler in the promotion today,” while user FreezeIzGawd’s succinct opinion is that “the Miz is trash.” Regardless of where you fall on this scale, it’s likely that you consider his current run as a babyface to be a dismal failure. We knew it would be a struggle from the beginning. His mannerisms have always seemed overtly cocky, and his catchphrases – which are probably too popular for him to discard at this point – are intended to be used in condescension. Even his ring entrance (which ends with him sliding along the apron and looking back smugly at the audience) remains heel-ish.
A talented wrestler can, of course, complete a personality turn without changing those superficial factors. Scott Hall, for example, could go from babyface to loathed heel without substantially changing his appearance or moveset. The real difference is that Scott Hall – or Triple H, or Shawn Michaels, or The Rock — knew exactly when to (metaphorically) wink at the camera, and when to smirk. When to include the audience in your joke, and when to make them the butt. Miz occasionally makes me wonder whether he lacks that instinct for being a true face in front of a live crowd. This happens most often during his execrable MizTV segments, but these tone-deaf moments extend to his work on the commentary table, and even in the ring.
One recent example was during last month’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view, wherein he fought against Curtis Axel. There was a moment during the match when Miz feigned being struck by Paul Heyman, thus convincing the referee to remove Heyman from ringside. In the right hands – okay, in Eddie Guerrero’s hands – this would have been an amusing ploy to win over a mixed crowd. But Money in the Bank took place in Philadelphia, where Heyman is embraced as a returning hero every time he makes an appearance. Miz was booed heavily, and he never did manage to get the crowd back on his side. I’m not saying that Miz wrote this spot, but I am saying that he should have realized that this was the wrong night and the wrong crowd.
If his grating in-ring persona wasn’t enough to annoy hardcore fans, Miz began to suffer from overexposure outside the ring. Thanks to his ferocious work ethic and reality show background, Miz became the go-to guy for WWE public relations, appearing everywhere from Larry King to Conan, from the Teen Choice Awards to scripted television shows like Psych. He also sort of backed into the lead role in The Marine 3 when the WWE belatedly realized the public relations nightmare that Randy Orton would cause in the lead role.
These problems obscure some of the great things that Miz has accomplished already. It’s easy to forget how over this guy was as a heel two years ago, when he pinned John Cena at WrestleMania. He’s held both Tag Team belts, the Intercontinental Championship, and the U.S. Championship multiple times. He’s a former WWE Champion, and Pro Wrestling Illustrated named him the top singles wrestler of the year in 2011(!). His moveset is surprisingly solid. I think his backbreaker/neckbreaker combination is one of the best-looking non-finishing moves in the WWE today, and his snap DDT to downed opponents probably should be a finisher.
Unfortunately, we can’t talk about his moveset without mentioning the Figure Four. This move was “gifted” to him by Ric Flair himself, in what seemed to me to be a final, desperate attempt to get Miz over as a face. The plan backfired, at least with the internet wrestling community, because Miz is simply not a technically oriented wrestler. I would be remiss not to point out that Miz had one of the most glaring WWE botches of the past few years. R-Truth missed a brief time due to injury when Miz chose to provide the path of least resistance on a dive spot. That incident notwithstanding, I haven’t read much criticism that Miz is a particularly unsafe ring partner.
The original poster of this topic, Mac/iOS, clearly believes that the Miz is still awesome. I’ve spent most of this column disagreeing with that notion, but this hasn’t been emblematic of my personal feelings toward the wrestler. I’m simply sick of his deeply flawed run as a face. I think the time is ripe for him to return as a heel, preferably during SummerSlam itself.
Is that possible? Sure. Miz isn’t booked for a match, but he is the “host” of the show. No one seems to be exactly sure what duties that title entails, but surely it means that he’ll be on the premises all night. He has a strong and memorable history with both of the competitors in the main event match. Miz acted as Daniel Bryan’s antagonistic mentor when the latter was introduced on the first season of NXT. And as mentioned before, Miz and John Cena were the headliners at WrestleMania XXVII. Speaking of that WrestleMania match, it is probably best remembered for the interference of that show’s guest host, The Rock.
The Bryan/Cena match at SummerSlam is being governed by legendary guest referee, Triple H. That more or less guarantees that the match will involve some sort of extracurricular shenanigans, either from Money in the Bank winner Randy Orton, or from some other outside force working against Triple H. That latter possibility would likely be someone aligned with Vince or Stephanie McMahon. I’ll admit that the past few weeks have left me dreaming of some sort of Corporate/McMahon-based stable involving Orton, Miz, Wade Barrett, and – dare I say it? – perhaps even Drew McIntyre. This could potentially set Bryan up to chase Orton for the title – the two have shown great chemistry recently. It might also give Cena an excuse to rest his distractingly large elbow.
But now I’ve inadvertently veered us into “fantasy booking” territory. My apologies. Please don’t think that this sort of behavior is encouraged in the comments section below. My point is that the forum posters seem fairly even divided as to what to think about Miz. Those who love him will continue to do so no matter what. But for the rest of us, I would encourage everyone to remember that no matter how insufferable The Miz can be as a face, he was a damned compelling heel. Sooner or later, that heel version is going to return, and – for better or worse – he won’t have to change very much about his current persona to make it work.