It’s hard to fathom that nearly 12 years ago, WWE fans first laid eyes on Mike “The Miz” Mizanin. October of 2004 marked the first time his annoying smile and obnoxious voice came through our televisions. Competing on that year’s installment of Tough Enough, the character that is The Miz seemed a natural fit for the WWE.
Though Daniel Puder won the contest (side note: Daniel Puder LOLOLOLOLOL), it’s safe to say The Miz earned his spot in the company over the course of that competition. Now, over a decade later, and The Miz has become one of the WWE’s greatest heels of this generation – in quiet fashion.
“The Chick Magnet,” “The Awesome One,” “The Hollywood A-Lister” – whatever you want to call him (or more appropriately, he wants to call himself) – may not be the second coming of Bret Hart, but he’s able to hold his own in the ring.
His finest wrestling work has come against opponents such as John Morrison, Rey Mysterio, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, and DX. All of these programs are underrated, and if pressed with the question of what The Miz’s greatest match is, it might take a while for something to truly stand out.
That doesn’t really matter though – the fact is that it was never his wrestling ability that got The Miz over.
His huge personality has connected him with the fans in a way that few wrestlers are able to. Because of that, he’s always had a spot on the show, whether the internet fan demographic complains or not.
One might be surprised to read that The Miz has held 14 championships in the WWE (15 if you’re the type to count the Money In The Bank briefcase), including a reign as WWE Champion that led to the main event of Wrestlemania XXVII against John Cena.
He’s had five runs with the Intercontinental Championship, two with the United States Championship, and six runs as a tag team champion with four different partners.
I hate to say it, but if you haven’t realized it yet – those are Hall of Fame type of numbers. But, it isn’t just the accolades that define his career. It’s his ability to get the job done regardless of what he’s asked to do.
The Miz has a knack for adaptability – keeping his character fresh enough to remain relevant on a regular basis.
You don’t think his biggest strength is between the ropes? No problem – give him a talk show! Need some help fortifying the tag team division? Pair him with anyone for immediate heel heat! Need someone to get the internet darling over to the casual fans? Make him a mentor on NXT! Need a fresh, slimy heel to feed to Cena? The Miz is your guy! You have a comedy act you’re trying to get over? His facial expressions will do the job!
All of this brings us to his current role as the Intercontinental Champion. In a number of ways, The Miz is the catalyst for making a beloved championship important again.
For one, he’s a big character – plain and simple. If you want a championship to feel big, you put it on a big superstar. The fact that he’s a 14-time champion (of some sort, remember) adds instant credibility to the championship.
Two, he’s been a huge aid in getting Cesaro over immediately upon his return. Chances are if you’re reading this, you love Cesaro. I love Cesaro – he’s tremendously talented. However, the reality is, Vince McMahon does not see him as a top superstar. Whether it’s intended or not, the vitriol most project onto The Miz is allowing “The Swiss Superman” to shine to casual fans. How many other talents has he aided in this manner?
Three, his and Maryse’s promos (and let’s be honest – she deserves credit on this run, too) are pure gold. He’s been given a significant amount of time to boost the title and build disdain for his character. Fans dislike him so much that when he loses the title, he’ll have created a magnificent moment.
That’s part of the beauty of what The Miz does. We don’t even realize it, but he’s able to set up these great moments in wrestling history. Look back on Bryan winning the United States Championship. Look back on what he and Morrison were able to accomplish when tag team wrestling was far from the focal point of the show. Look back on the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal when Damien Mizdow finally stood up to The Miz and eliminated him from the match.
Those are but a few moments that The Miz helped create. He knows exactly how to make everyone boo – casual fan or diehard card-carrying member of the Internet Wrestling Community. He’s one of, if not the most, criminally underrated heel in WWE’s history.
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, covers the NFL’s Tennessee Titans for Pro Football Spot, and is the Editor of The SoBros Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT’s Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.