Thursday Morning Backlash on The Miz as WWE Champion

Thursday Morning Backlash on The Miz as WWE Champion

The Miz won the WWE Championship from Randy Orton back on November 22 of last year. He cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot he earned in July on a weakened Viper, and became the third man since April to cash in a briefcase and win gold after Jack Swagger (April) and Kane (July).

Despite the undeniably lame fact that Money in the Bank has become such a crutch for the WWE Creative Team (I get the feeling Brad Garoon will expand upon that), I feel like despite the complaints, Miz is being handled very well as champion.

The Miz has been the champion for over 100 days, the first man to hold the title that long since Triple H’s lengthy reign in 2008. He’s outsmarted Randy Orton in two title defenses at TLC and the Royal Rumble. He also defended the title against Jerry “The King” Lawler twice, once in a terrific TLC match. Some complain that Lawler was given that main even spotlight, but I think it speaks to how much heat Miz has that he could make those matches interesting to the audience with someone like Lawler who hasn’t been a full time wrestler in well over a decade. He’s had some really good TV matches with Rey Mysterio, Daniel Bryan, and Kofi Kingston, and went over each of them decisively. His finishing move was what put Cena away in the tag team title match from Raw a few weeks ago.

However, a lot of that is being overlooked by the presence of The Rock at WrestleMania, at which Miz is in the main event defending his title against John Cena. The notion is that Miz is being presented as an afterthought due to the enormity of Cena versus The Rock. Well, I hate to say it, but of course he is.

The Rock and John Cena are two of the biggest stars in the history of WWE. Miz is the WWE Champion sure, but the key element of his character is that he is essentially an underdog. Heel underdog champions are very rare and it’s an interesting position for Miz. His story is really the stuff babyfaces are made of – he overcame adversity, never gave up, persevered, and became WWE Champion. Yet he has the natural ability to make people hate him.

Cena isn’t taking Miz seriously because he dismantled him last time they feuded, and Rock slights him because Rock slights everybody. Rock would never let anyone appear to be on his level, that’s part of what makes him the Rock. But being underestimated is part of what makes Mike Mizanin The Miz. His promo at the end of this past Monday’s Raw was a perfect way to illustrate his purpose. Being underestimated by his opponents fuels Miz and gives him reason for doing what he does. Having Rock and Cena overlook him plays to Miz’s biggest strength. Of course he’s not going to win at WrestleMania, but I sincerely believe Miz is now a Made Man because of this title reign.

And joining me, once again, the Master of Mayhem, ladies and gentlemen, Brad Garoon>:

Jake pointed out some great reasons why the Miz’ role leading up to his main event match at WrestleMania is appropriate and even plays to his strengths. Sadly, the Miz’ strengths at this point in his career and character development might not be the stuff of which WrestleMania main events are made.

It’s really not the Miz’ fault that he does not belong in WrestleMania’s main event. I truly believe that Mike Mizanin is developing to the absolute best of his ability, ability that is not in short supply. The man performs as though he is living out his boyhood dream, which anyone that has been following his career since his days on MTV knows to be true. The fault lies with World Wrestling Entertainment’s creative team and the way they’ve treated the championship that the Miz holds, both before and during his reign.

The Miz won his title by cashing in a Money in the Bank title shot on a tired Randy Orton after the Champion had defeated Wade Barrett in a scheduled match. This was far from the first time the title had changed hands in this matter, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. To me and too many WWE fans this diminishes the title win, especially when it is the first in a wrestler’s career.

Why does it matter that it was the Miz’ first title win? One could sensibly say that a wrestler winning his first title would need a shortcut more than a more seasoned veteran. While that might be true, I think it’s more important for a fan to have a strong and emotionally charged memory of a wrestler’s first title win. I can clearly remember how I felt when Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit won their first World Championships in WWE. What upsets me is that I don’t have any connection to CM Punk’s first title win. He too cashed in a Money in the Bank title shot against a tired Edge after the Champion had just been beaten down by Batista. I’ve followed Punk’s career for almost a decade now but I had to ask Jake for the specifics of his first title win. I also had to ask him to remind me of the specifics of the Miz’ first win.

So right out of the gate the Miz was at a disadvantage. The title, already weakened by title changes that fans couldn’t get behind emotionally one way or another, had again changed hands in a cheap fashion. But, as Jake pointed out, the Miz has made the most of his circumstance by putting in good showings and putting forth his strong personality in consistently entertaining feuds against Randy Orton and Jerry Lawler.

However, the Miz is still an afterthought heading into his WWE Championship defense against John Cena at WrestleMania. While Cena has spent the last few weeks jaw jacking with the Rock in an exchange that has everyone’s attention as we wonder where it’s all going, Miz has been crying that nobody has been paying attention to him.

The two ways this WrestleMania program could go down both parallel Chris Jericho’s career in late 2001/early 2002. In both scenarios the Rock and Cena will likely band together to take down the increasingly aggressive Champion. In one scenario the Miz gets a big rub from being in a program with Cena and the Rock in the main event at WrestleMania, much like Jericho did when he defeated the Rock and Steve Austin at Vengeance 2001 to unify the WCW and WWF titles. Here the Miz looks all the better for keeping up with wrestlers in a far better position than him.

In the other, which I sadly think is more likely, the Miz gets set back and at least slightly buried in the wake of the two huge personalities with whom he’s programmed. Much in the same way Chris Jericho did in his WrestleMania X-8 program at the expense of Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. It took Jericho over six years to get another run with the title. I sincerely hope that after the Miz loses at WrestleMania the road back to the title isn’t as long as it was for Jericho.

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