I’ll start off by saying that I never liked The Miz. I simply never understood the draw. As someone who grew up watching great heels like Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, and Jake Roberts; I just couldn’t bring myself to classify Miz as a believable top heel. For a long time he was only disliked because he wasn’t entertaining, not because he was a guy you loved to hate. On the surface, the only reason Mike Mizanin had a WWE contract was to appeal to the MTV audience as a former Real World celebrity. He was a reality star who was a mediocre performer, yet somehow wound up in the main event of WrestleMania.
It seemed WWE would try to get him over in a different way each year, some of which were great ideas. Grabbing an endorsement from Ric Flair and adopting the Figure Four Leglock as a signature move was a blatant attempt to gain respect from the fans by association, but the WWE Universe saw right through it. However, an early example of the “reality era” saw The Miz mentoring a younger, but more experienced Daniel Bryan as an NXT rookie. This was a brilliant move to get some much needed heat on The Miz, a man who was handed so much of his career by way of a reality show to trivialize the accomplishments and indie cred of the American Dragon. The classic patronizing nature of WWE to bring in a well traveled vet like Bryan as a rookie was embodied by The Miz, a thoroughbred WWE Superstar.
Expectedly, this relationship would culminate in a feud between the two representatives of their respective worlds; but who would see this feud being revisited all these years later on the WWE Network’s Talking Smack of all places.
An Awesome Legacy
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The initial reason that Miz interrupted Talking Smack was due to a legitimate gripe. In a Smackdown that was rich with debuts of new title belts, one of the oldest titles in wrestling history was not mentioned. The Intercontinental Championship may have the greatest legacy of any title in WWE. Having been held by some of the greatest workers, rather than the biggest names, the IC Title is and always has been the title of the most awesome integrity. The fact alone that The Miz holds a title normally granted to wrestlers on the highest caliber, may seem like just another way to artificially gain the respect of the fans, but his promo on Talking Smack gave The Miz what will be his defining moment.
The Miz brought up the fact that the Intercontinental Championship was the last title that Daniel Bryan held. Between returning from one major injury and being forced to retire due to concussions, Daniel Bryan’s goal was to make the IC title relevant again. In the hands of an in-ring artist like Bryan, this would have been achieved. Unfortunately, his style is also reckless enough that his career was cut short.
The Miz then more or less asked Daniel Bryan what he has against him. This is where Bryan said that he respected the title, just not the man holding it, criticizing The Miz of wrestling like a coward.
The Assassination of Daniel Bryan by the Coward Mike Mizanin
What Daniel Bryan meant by “you wrestle like a coward” was in reference to the typical WWE safe style of wrestling. It’s not as hard hitting or even as exciting as it might be in the indies, and is meant more to preserve the wrestler rather than to be realistic. The Miz reacting the way he did, red in the face, and clearly speaking from the heart, brought up an interesting argument. Daniel Bryan doesn’t wrestle anymore because of the way he wrestled. That high-flying, fast-paced, hard-hitting level of realism comes at a price. It’s definitely more exciting. It’s objectively more entertaining. But if you can only keep it up for a few years, what’s the point? The Miz, wrestling like a coward, and wrestling like he’s afraid to get hit, will only prolong his career.
In fact, the old model of WWE using big guys may have been more for practicality than aesthetic. Those bigger guys are more durable, and therefore, more reliable. You’re going to get more bang for your buck. As entertaining as a more realistic style is, it’s not sustainable. That’s why a guy like Kevin Owens is perfect. He’s a high-impact, exciting indie guy who’s built like a refridgerator.
So, The Miz would go on to talk Daniel Bryan out of the building, saying that a guy who promised the fans he would return to the ring and didn’t had no right to call him a coward. Asking why a guy who claims to love wrestling doesn’t just quit the WWE to bypass their Wellness Policy and go wrestle in a bingo hall with his indie friends. It was as passionate a promo as it was eye opening, and it made a lot of people see The Miz in an all new light.
Interestingly enough, I think some of this new Miz persona has something to do with his wife, Maryse. It seems like since her return, The Miz has been significantly more engaging. I was always a fan of Maryse, and perhaps some of her natural heel charisma has rubbed off on him. Or maybe just having his wife by his side has subconsciously lit a fire inside him. Either way, she complements and completes his character.
Going forward, I’m hoping to see The Miz take advantage of this promo. It’s one that people will be searching for on YouTube for years to come. It’s his “Austin 3:16” moment. Akin to Roddy Piper smashing a coconut over Jimmy Snuka’s head, it’s a moment that will define him. I want to see the Miz deny that he wrestles like a coward while shamelessly wrestling more like a coward. Coward it up. Preserve yourself and be selfish. It will disrespect the fans and finally give The Miz the good heat he always wanted. The Miz must be more familiar with the story of Icarus, and unlike Daniel Bryan, has no intention of flying closer to Sun.