Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The last man you'd expect to be a champion

Some of you might remember Michael Mizanin from MTV's Real World and Real World/Road Rules Challenge. Nowadays, the alternate persona he created on Real World, that of "The Miz", has become a steady, if not also annoying, presence, on WWE television.

Mizanin entered the "$1,000,000 Tough Enough" tournament on Smackdown in 2004, only to finish 2nd to eventual winner Daniel Puder. Puder, however, didn't pan out with WWE, making his only PPV appearance at the 2005 Royal Rumble, and was released less than a year later. Before '05 was out, Mizanin was called up, serving as a "host" on Smackdown, but that gig didn't really do him any favors. He swapped his microphone for his tights & boots a few months later, and he was on his merry way.

Consider what the man has done in the last 3 years alone. 2 US titles. 3 tag team titles. And, as of last night, history. Mizanin cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase on Randy Orton, who'd already been laid out by Wade Barrett and Nexus, and won the WWE title.

There are those who will decry Miz's title reign as the second coming of actor David Arquette, who was given the WCW title 10 years ago in order to help sell the movie, "Ready to Rumble", in which wrestlers such as Diamond Dallas Page & Bill Goldberg co-starred with Arquette. Miz, because of his media connections already in place, is the kind of champion Vince McMahon wants as we near the end of 2010. TMZ and other outlets have already done articles. It's all about raising WWE's media profile, especially in the aftermath of former CEO Linda McMahon's failed bid for the US Senate earlier this month. Just the kind of stunt you'd expect from Vince.

Arquette lasted just a month as champion. Miz figures to last at least one, maybe two, before reality sets in and he loses the title. Mizanin is the first Tough Enough graduate to hold the WWE title. Pretty heady stuff, but unless Miz talks about it himself on Raw next week, and I imagine he will, don't expect the announcers, especially Miz's #1 cheerleader, play-by-play announcer Michael Cole, to acknowledge much of the past. Six years after being second best in a tournament for a million dollars, Michael Mizanin feels like a million dollars now. However, the pressure is on him now to prove he can finally, once and for all, cast aside his MTV past and stake his claim to being among the WWE's elite. 8 years of hard work, starting after his Real World gig had ended, prepared Mizanin for last night. To borrow a line from the late Hall of Famer, Gorgeous George, Mizanin is the new "sensation of the nation", at least in the eyes of TMZ and tabloid media.

Past champions like Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, & John Cena have done the talk shows, Saturday Night Live, etc., and Miz will follow that same path. Being champion, however, will change a man. Miz is the annoying bad guy now, after he failed to win the fans' affections 5 years ago, but the more WWE puts him out there as an ambassador for the company, the more likely it is he will become their hero. It won't happen overnight, of course, but, in McMahon's wacky world, stranger things can, have, and will happen.

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