TCWNN #33: From Awful To Awesome.

TNA’s doing an ECW reunion pay per view. Only they aren’t calling it that, because they can’t.

Yeah.

You know what? Enough is enough. Over and over again TNA goes to someone else’s already dry well, and then doesn’t understand why they can’t draw water. If a star or a stable was popular in the past, TNA is willing to transport it in its entirety (almost, since in many cases they don’t own the names the average Joe would actually recognize them by) to 2010. Hulkamania. The NWO. Ric Flair’s on the roster? Well let’s bring back the Four Horsemen, only we can’t call them the Four Horsemen, so we’ll call them FORTUNE (get it? Get it?), but have them act just like the Horsemen and style and profile and hold up the four finger salute and so on and so forth (compare this to Evolution in the WWE, which used the 4 Horsemen concept without just plain carbon copying it). They dwell in the past without every adjusting anything to fit the future. There isn’t even any point to writing about it anymore. So I’m not going to. Enough with rehashing the past, and on to the future. Of course, in order to talk about the future, I’m going to talk about the past.

Flashback to 2001. The girlfriend I was living with at the time had developed a taste for that most junky of junk food staples, MTV’s the Real World. We only had television in one room; in fact most everything was in one room, so there was really no escape for me. And that’s how the Miz first ended up on my television screen. And to be honest, I didn’t really pay much attention. He and his show were an annoyance, a gnat buzzing in the background. There was some sort of “storyline” in play with him being on the outs with his roommates due to his lack of experience being around black and gay people, and how his roommates introduced him to other cultures or some such business, and that in turn led to him becoming best friends with Coral, one of his other housemates. It also led to him unveiling Mike The Miz to the world, as a means of coming out of his shell or something. It had nothing to do with actual wrestling, just a bizarre alter ego that would cut Rock style promos into the camera. It was actually kind of annoying. But his friendship with Coral actually lured me in, and so every so often I’d actually watch.

From there the girlfriend moved on to the Real World/Road Rules Challenge, and I followed the Coral/Miz friendship there. And once again, The Miz would come out (in one particular instance going on a drunken rampage) still having nothing to do with the actual wrestling Miz we know today. There was nothing in his drunken Rock imitations that tipped me off to the fact that one day he’d be one of my favorite heel talents in the WWE. Wikipedia says he participated in many more Real World/Road Rules Challenges, and as far as MTV reality show stars go I guess he achieved a certain degree of celebrity, but those shows were never my thing, so I quickly grew bored and tuned out. From there I pretty much forgot about all about the guy. And then one day, he turned up on WWE tv.

I was working as a furniture mover at the time, which meant being outside and working long hours, so there were two things I wasn’t really doing all that often: watching television and surfing the internet. That Mike from The Real World had actually followed through and become a pro-wrestler flew completely under my radar, even after he had debuted on Smackdown. Him starting out in UPW, him appearing on the Smackdown version of Tough Enough, him ending up in the WWE developmental system and his stint as “host” of Smackdown … this was all news that didn’t hit my ears until the night I happened to turn on Monday Night Raw and saw him parade out (dressed like the biggest tool ever, I might add) to host one of my least favorite WWE bright ideas ever: the Diva search. To say I wished I could have happily gone right back to forgetting he existed was an understatement. The dork from The Real World, working in the WWE under the name of his Rock imitation, only twice as obnoxious HOO RAH. Yuck.

Yet much as I wished he’d go away, the Miz stuck around. He persisted, and remained an unwelcome presence on my tv whenever I got the chance to watch wrestling. Which thanks to my schedule and his move to Smackdown post Diva search, was very rare (Friday nights… not my television watching night, and this was before DVR’s were standard operating procedure). It wasn’t until he ended up on ECW that I regularly began to see the Miz again. And something weird had happened. He was suddenly entertaining. Still not the greatest in ring performer, but he was clearly improved. And then he got paired with John Morrison, and he became even more entertaining, and even more clearly improved. And it’s continued that way ever since.

Each time out, Miz continued to win me over. And not just me. You could see praise for Miz growing within the IWC week in and week out, to the point that, once Miz and Morrison had won and lost the Tag titles and broken up their team, the IWC went up in arms over the lame duck booking of the PPV culmination of his vastly entertaining (and Jericho/Goldbergian) mini-feud with John Cena, in which Miz was soundly defeated in a mere 5 minutes. The fact that so many of wrestling’s harshest critics were drooling for a fair shot for the guy showed just how far he had come. Fortunately, it was just a speed bump. The Miz’s stock has continued to rise dramatically since then, culminating this past Sunday at the Money In The Bank ppv, where he won the Raw MITB match while the announcers declared him the future of Raw. And you know what? At this point, I can’t disagree one iota. In fact, it’s something I can hardly wait to see. He still might not be a Kurt Angle in the ring, but he’s solid enough to keep up with one, and there’s no doubt that he’s one of the best mic guys around. Through hard work and perseverance, The Miz actually BECAME awesome, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

The Miz is the future of the WWE. If I was constantly stuck on the Miz the past, I’d have never been able to admit how far he’s actually come.

Maybe TNA should make a note of that.

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