Friday 25 May 2012

Why It's Time For The Miz To Turn Face

Exactly how many years ago now was it that some 21-year-old large ham called Mike Mizanin showed severe signs of bipolar disorder on The Real World and created some alter ego for himself known as The Miz? I'm no good at maths so I'll just say a lot. I've been following The Miz for almost his entire WWE career and to this day he remains one of my - what I fondly call now - Hindsight Picks. I see someone in their rookie days and think "I want them to go far, I want them to make it big". It's always a hit and miss deal because not all of my Hindsight Picks have made it so far (still waiting on that call from FCW, AJ Kirsch?) but it's a great feeling to see someone you remember from their rookie days finally become that big star you wanted them to be. John Cena and Trish Stratus are probably two of my most successful Hindsight Picks, but we're getting off topic. I remember Miz from his antics on the 4th season of Tough Enough that involved coming last in an arm wrestling contest and dry-humping Mae Young while wearing a santa suit. Yeah...despite that he was my pick to win and even though Daniel Puder claimed the fan support, Mike Mizanin got the last laugh and has now claimed the honours of most successful Tough Enough contestant. 

Even though I do the same midnight vigils for Miz that I do for Sir Ian McKellen and Shawn Ashmore, I can admit his flaws because during his early WWE days as there were lots of them. Stammering his lines as host of the Diva Search, being visibly out of shape and not to mention clumsy and uncoordinated in the ring are among a few of them. And yet after my hiatus from wrestling was over, I returned to watching WWE in late 2009 and low-and-behold it was a different creature that went around calling itself The Miz. Much improved in-ring skills and amazing work on the mic stuck out to me as well as being able to elicit a reaction from the fans - which in PG-era WWE is no easy feat. It seems Miz's hard work finally paid off as he captured the United States Championship from Kofi Kingston and went on to hold it for an incredibly long time. I can't honestly say whether or not his full potential was tapped into as US Champion then because I only remember a feud with MVP and not much else. That's also because he found himself holding one half of the Tag Team titles along with Big Show in a move nobody saw coming. In just over a year, Miz had gone from laughing stock that got buried by a piss-poor program with John Cena to multiple title holder and bankable star. And nobody could have predicted what else the year 2010 would have in store for Miz as he would go on to claim the Money In The Bank briefcase in July and cash it in in November to win the WWE title. That's right, the kid who got laughed at on The Real World for saying he'd be WWE Champion one day went ahead and grabbed it for himself. Everyone saw those tears of joy as Miz realised he was finally at the top.

You might be wondering now what the point of listing all those achievements was. Or why I've veered off topic and ignored most of 2011. But bear with me now. Reading through all those accomplishments - 2-time US Champion, WWE Tag Team Champion, 2-time NXT Pro, Money In The Bank winner, WWE Champion, WrestleMania main event - offers us one question: where does The Miz go from there? It seems that's a question that even WWE couldn't answer as while 2010 may have been the best year for Miz, 2011 may have been his worst. Losing the title was expected and it was done in a way I wasn't annoyed about. Yet he would be completely buried in a rematch with John Cena at Over The Limit and would spend the second half of the year pretty much doing nothing, sans a random pairing with R-Truth in a conspiracy storyline that went nowhere and made no sense. 2012 is almost halfway over and Miz has still yet to do anything of any note. Watching him relegated to jobbing to Brodus Clay, complete with dance-off at Over The Limit (which really isn't his PPV by the way) has made me realise that he's run into a brick wall. He has officially become stale. Some might argue that he became stale a while back but I always felt there was something he could have done in the Awesome Truth storyline. But when you go from main eventing WrestleMania to doing the Thriller Dance before a match against someone called "The Funkasaurus" that might be the very definition of falling from grace. Miz is struggling as a heel and it's safe to say that if something doesn't happen soon, there will be no saving him. What should happen, you say? The good old fashioned face turn.

The Miz as a face is an idea that fans have tossed around for ages. I've even considered the possibility as early as late 2009 when Miz was getting great reactions from crowds - cheers, not boos. But back then it would have possibly damaged his career considering he was one of the best heels WWE had to offer. But now I feel that Miz has done everything that is possible in his heel role. He's been champion, he's been to WrestleMania, he's been at the top of the division, the list goes on. I've seen little attempts to get him to do something different like the bizarre promo he cut after John Morrison's final match and that half-assed feud with R-Truth but it seems like none of them have taken off because he has already done everything he can possibly do. I felt a similar way with Sheamus when he was drafted to Smackdown last year. He'd already been WWE Champion twice (and US Champion) and I wasn't crazy about seeing him as a top heel on the Blue Brand. He hadn't even been in WWE as long as The Miz, nor was he as accomplished but he was stale and struggling all the same. Of course I couldn't have predicted that Sheamus would get a face turn or that he would be such a natural at it. Now look where he is - World Heavyweight Champion and rumoured to be groomed for Cena's spot in the company. We can say that Sheamus wasn't exactly booked the best before his face turn (Evan Bourne squash anyone?) and that the turn saved his career so I feel it's just what Miz needs to get back on track. There are some issues that should be addressed if Miz is to make a successful turn.

First of all, the upper card face scene is pretty depleted in my opinion. You have Cena and Orton who are both seemingly involved in their own storylines right now keeping them away from the title (which is a good thing) and while Smackdown has some kind of hierarchy, who would you say is on the totem pole after CM Punk in terms of faces? Zack Ryder would have been the one a few months ago but we all know how that turned out. Santino is the US Champion but again he's not really able to be taken that seriously in terms of rankings. Miz as a face could easily slot in there and fill that number 2 babyface role. Then when Punk eventually loses the title and whatever heel establishes himself as the new champion, therein lies potential for Miz to climb back up the ladder. Even if he gets moved to Smackdown in the draft he can still fill that role over there too since Orton really exists on his own in terms of character. Second of all and this is probably the biggest issue people would have with a face Miz, his character. We've seen it before when a popular heel gets turned face and eventually ends up stripped of all their spark and edge to become unbelievably bland (*cough* John Cena) but I feel The Miz can make his character work in a face role without compromising himself. I mean, The Rock was able to make his character work as a face and so was Cena at the start, CM Punk too. I don't know how much creative control Miz has over his character so it's up to whoever has control to make it work. Third of all, there's crowd reaction. Miz is known for being universally hated and drawing massive amounts of X-Pac Heat so the question is could he get reactions as a face? My answer is yes. I remember the first few months of his reign as US Champion and the fans were cheering him a lot. I even wondered if he'd turned face already and I missed it. Then there's Money In The Bank last year. Did anyone hear the reactions he got from the crowd as he ran down to the ring one-legged after supposedly dislocating his knee. I mean, Rey Mysterio got booed for stopping him getting the briefcase. Those two instances have made me confident that the fans can and will accept Miz as a face. In fact, if the turn is done right then Miz could become one of the most successful stars in WWE. There's a fourth point too and that's to do with representing the company. It's no secret that Miz is extremely well-liked backstage for his company man attitude and it's almost always him that does the talk show appearances, press conferences etc to represent the big E. The likes of Orton and Punk don't want to do those things. It makes a lot of sense for someone doing all those things to represent the company to big a big babyface. And funnily enough, Sheamus is the other big go-to guy for that kind of stuff.

So that's pretty much something I felt I had to get off my chest. I'm not saying this is something that is going to happen or that it's what a lot of other people feel should happen, this is just what I think. Mike Mizanin is a great asset to the company and he's almost completely a homegrown talent and so, like my two most successful Hindsight Picks, I want him to have a full and accomplished career so that when he hangs up his boots I can say "yes, they did everything right with him". I'd love to see him main eventing more WrestleManias and hold more world championships. Whether or not he turns face, one thing is for certain - he won't get to do any of those things if he's having dance-offs with Brodus Clay.

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