WWE Superstar The Miz is awesome, both inside and outside the ring
Love him or hate him, the onetime "Real World"-er has worked hard to become a wrestler who was once a reality star, not a realty star turned wrestler.
When WrestleMania 23 was held in Detroit in 2007, The Miz was a fresh-faced 26-year-old, new to World Wrestling Entertainment's main roster and just a few years removed from starring on the 10th season of MTV's twentysomethings-in-the-big-city experiment "The Real World." He appeared at Ford Field on that event's card in a pre-show bout, as one of 36 wrestlers surrounding the ring in a lumberjack match.
He was still figuring things out and finding his place within the company. Things clicked four years later when he headlined WWE's biggest annual extravaganza, defeating John Cena in the main event of WrestleMania 27 to retain the WWE Championship.
It hasn't been all gravy since. He soon felt displaced, toiling away in mid-card feuds and struggling to regain his prominence. Today he's got his mojo back, and he heads to WWE's "Raw" event Monday at Little Caesars Arena hot off an appearance at last weekend's WrestleMania 38, where he appeared in a tag team contest alongside megawatt social media personality Logan Paul — an outsider to the world of suplexes and bodyslams, like the Miz once was — whom he turned on and laid out in the middle of the ring at the conclusion of their match. Welcome to the WWE, kid.
For The Miz, it was just another day at the office, an office which saw him competing in front of more than 70,000 screaming fans and a worldwide streaming audience of millions. It's the continuing fulfillment of a lifelong dream for the native of Parma, Ohio, just a few miles south of Cleveland, who is still looking to achieve even more both inside and outside of the ring.
"I'm always pushing myself to be better, to do better, to be bigger," says Miz, born Michael Mizanin, on the phone from his home in Los Angeles earlier this week.
"You're never going to be the most popular, you're never going to be the most hated, you're never going to be the most, because everyone has a different opinion. One guy will say Shawn Michaels is the greatest, another will say Hulk Hogan, or The Rock, or Stone Cold Steve Austin. One guy might even say The Miz! But it's my job to make sure more people, each and every time I'm out there, says, 'it's The Miz.'
"And so I'm always striving for that," says the now-41-year-old. "I know that I can never do it, but I'll strive for it, I'll push for it. And maybe someday it will actually happen."
Miz and Mrs.
The Miz credits his wife, fellow WWE Superstar and former model Maryse Ouellet, with getting him out of his in-ring funk.
After leaving WWE in 2011 she returned in 2016, and began appearing in-ring alongside her husband, who touted himself as "awesome" and called himself "the most must-see Superstar in WWE history," even if he wasn't always living up to that self-imposed billing. The pair became a villainous on-screen power couple, and he says she helped him back up all his boisterous, on-mic braggadocio.
"I couldn't figure out how to get back to where I was, I was just trying to keep my head above water, and I couldn't," he says. "And then Maryse came back, and everything that I was saying kind of looked true, because this beautiful, smart woman isn't going to be with some loser."
Off-screen, the couple — who started dating in 2008 and were married in 2014 — are parents to a pair of daughters, Monroe and Madison, who are ages 4 and 2, respectively.
But on WWE programming, The Miz and Maryse are the couple you love to hate, cheating to win and always getting the last laugh. They wrestled together as recently as January, taking on fellow WWE supercouple Edge and Beth Phoenix at the Royal Rumble.
Their chemistry has extended to their own reality show, "Miz and Mrs.," which enters its third season on the USA Network in June.
It's one of a handful of Miz's endeavors outside of the WWE: he has starred in four direct-to-DVD sequels to the action movie "The Marine," he hosted the game show "Cannonball" on USA in 2020 and he appeared on the 30th season of "Dancing With the Stars" in late 2021. (He came in 9th place on the show, but managed to best "Beverly Hills 90210" star Brian Austin Green and former Spice Girl Melanie "Sporty Spice" Chisholm, and appeared in several segments alongside his wife.)
His awesomeness is not just an in-ring gimmick, he says, it's a lifestyle.
"I'm always good, 100% awesome, all day, everyday of my life," says The Miz, who attended Miami University in Ohio before joining "The Real World" in 2001. "When you have two beautiful daughters who are healthy and happy and you have an amazing wife, I think you're pretty happy."
'No-brainer Hall of Famer'
But wrestling is his main focus, and The Miz is currently the only two-time Grand Slam Champion in WWE history, meaning he's won the WWE title, the Intercontinental Championship, the U.S. Championship and the tag team championships at least twice each.
That makes him the WWE's "ultimate utility player," he says.
"I would say my role in the company now is as a person who can develop newcomers but also be in the main event, or help the main event out, or be on the mid-card. I can be anywhere," he says. "I'm the person that they're like, 'hey, we've got this,' and if they give it to me, they know it's going to be gold."
That puts him on a surefire road to WWE's Hall of Fame, says Kenny Herzog, a longtime wrestling journalist who currently contributes to Bleacher Report.
"The Miz is someone who worked very hard to get where he is," says Herzog, who named The Miz the Wrestler of the Year in a 2017 piece for Rolling Stone. "Whether you like his character or you liked him on his reality show or not, it doesn’t really matter. What’s undeniable is he decided, 'I’m going to be more dedicated to this than anyone has ever been.' He’s put in the work, whether that’s acting classes or training to burnish his in-ring bonafides. And his work ethic, and his almost lunatic commitment to being the best performer in the world, is effectively why he is where he is today."
Even if The Miz doesn't reach the heights of purist in-ring legends such as the Undertaker or Bret Hart, "I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of naysayers who debate his place (in WWE's Hall of Fame)," Herzog says. "So, you know, it could be worse."
Miz himself says he's a "no-brainer Hall of Famer," which is typical of his character. But he's earned his right to say that, even if he's not ready to hang up his boots.
"Not yet," he says. He's still having too much fun, and with people like Logan Paul — or rapper Bad Bunny, whom he worked with at WrestleMania 37 — he's able to mentor them, teach them the ropes, so to speak, and help them live up to their potential in the ring.
"My goal, whenever a celebrity comes in, is not to have them just sit on the sidelines and watch me work. What the fans paid to see is, 'is Logan Paul going to be able to do this?' And I want to be able to give fans that answer, whether it's positive or negative," he says. "So I'm going to push whichever celebrity is out there to be their absolute best, and it only works if they have the heart, the dedication, the will and the athletic ability do it."
As for the future, "I'm hoping I'm able to perform at the top of my level, stay injury-free, have fun and maybe have a couple more shows out on television," Miz says.
He is also angling for the role of action movie star turned fighter Johnny Cage in the sequel to the 2021 hit "Mortal Kombat." He's ready to go, and there have been social media campaigns launched pushing him for the part, but as much as he wants to do it, the decision is out of his hands.
If he gets it, it would be another notch on the belt of tone of the hardest working guys in showbiz. And if he doesn't, well, that's motivation to strive for even more. And that's nothing new for The Miz.
WWE Monday Night Raw
7:30 p.m. Monday
Little Caesars Arena, 2645 Woodward Ave., Detroit