Hostest with the mostest my bum...
Mike "the Miz" Mizanin.
It would be fair to say that his wrestling career did not start on the best of terms. Legend has it that many in the locker room were ready to show this reality star cum wrestler the door. However, like a few stars, the Miz was saved by the advent of a new creation.
ECW arrived in WWE in 2006 and the Miz soon found himself there with another underutilised worker- the newly christened John Morrison. Using their own knowledge of pop culture as well as a cheeky brand of humour Miz and Morrison created the cult Internet ECW based show the Dirt Sheet- which helped catapult both onto bigger and better things.
And so it came as no surprise when Miz was drafted onto Raw that he would eventually pick up the United States Championship in 2008 as well as Tag Team Gold in 2010. It seemed the WWE had found a great midcard heel that would be able to slot in to add some much needed depth to their roster.
And then in July 2010 at Money in the Bank, the WWE suddenly decided to whack the briefcase for a WWE Championship shot on Miz. This would be cashed in November 2010 to give him his first and only WWE Championship- an accolade he would hold all the way through to Wrestlemania.
Now if you have ever listened to the grievances of one CM Punk, you will hear that one of the reasons he almost left the company in 2011 is that he couldn't believe that the Miz was main eventing Wrestlemania as the heel instead of him. And to a large extent, Punk has a point. On ring ability, promo work, psychology and more, Punk wins hands down over Miz.
However, while Punk is a better pro wrestler...2011 was a Wrestlemania that was essentially suited for Miz to be the main event heel. Not that any of these factors made for a better WWE.
The first one was this guy.
In early to mid 2010, WWE made the boneheaded decision to turn its play by play guy Michael Cole heel on NXT- where he did colour commentary. He started to label people like Daniel Bryan and AJ Lee 'Internet Darlings' and begun taking a liking to Bryan's mentor- the Miz.
Later that year these prickish traits would make their way to the main roster when Cole began parading himself around as 'the voice of the WWE' and acting as the spokesman for the Anonymous General Manager before eventually starting to feud with his co-commentator Jerry Lawler.
In this sort of circumstance, who do you think would make more of a good choice for a corporate shallow sycophantic heel to suck up to? The dude with all the tattoos and the independent pedigree, or the snivelling reality TV star who the WWE can pass off as a mainstream media sensation? Who the heel commentator could simply say is "awesome" in order to fawn praise over.
Speaking of the issues about praise, that brings us to problem two
At Wrestlemania 21, John Cena was hot property. He was the golden boy whose edgy rapper gimmick got over in a big way. By the middle of 2010, however any edginess from his persona was well and truly smoothed over and commercialised, packaged to be sold to the highest bidder.
Furthermore, this was before the time when Cena was booked with great workers and given the chance to extend himself with innovative moves. Instead this was when 'Superman Cena' had an iron grip on the main event with vanilla booked matches- including the burying of the Nexus angle.
By the time of late 2010 when Cena buried Wade Barrett under a mountain of chairs, the tide had most assuredly turned against Cena and there is no doubt that the notion of CM Punk, a guy whose work on the mic could cut incredibly close to bone possibly pointing out some of the foibles and hypocrisies of Cena's character (not to mention the Rock's) was a risk that WWE did not want to take.
No, what the WWE wanted was a heel that was truly reviled by just being there. Who could cough and get booed.
Oh, and stay out of the way of this guy.
Y'see CM Punk may say that he wanted a Wrestlemania Main Event. And he may have said on his friend Colt Cabana's podcast that even if he was in a Triple Threat with Cena and the Rock "for five minutes" at Wrestlemania 29 he would have gladly accepted it (which I don't believe for a moment), but I can't help but feel that this feud would have drove him mad.
The Miz may have been WWE Champion. He may have technically been the top heel in the company. But there was no doubt in most people's minds what the Miz's job was in the buildup to Wrestlemania 27.
The Miz was, what is commonly known in dating circles as 'the third wheel'.
Oh sure, no one ever said that- who would? But when it came down to brass tacks the promos that people were remembering were the Great One's and Cena's- particularly when they were both in the ring at the same time. Miz? He was the also-ran who kept getting in the way.
And yet...one cannot help but feel that CM Punk headlining with John Cena would have made a great main event. The one they put on? Pretty shite.
Y'see the notion would have been that with the Miz as his opponent, John Cena would get more of the crowd back on his side. The major problem was two-fold. While they were trying to make this like Cena vs JBL at Mania 21 with an insolent heel to face Cena, the fact of the matter was that Cena at Mania 21 was the man of the moment. At Mania 27 it seemed more and more that Cena was becoming the babyface by default. This also wasn't helped by the fact that while Cena was trying to look more empathetic to the audience one of the most electrifying promo workers in the WWE's history came back and called him Fruity Pebbles- leading to the obvious conclusion- if the Rock doesn't particularly like John Cena, why should the rest of us?
Of course John Cena may have been helped if the Miz was a bit more like JBL- having held the championship for 10 months and surviving against some of the biggest babyfaces in the company- including the Undertaker and Booker T. The Miz on the other hand was facing Randy Orton (good) and Jerry Lawler (total lunacy).
The Miz was 30 and in peak physical conditioning. Lawler, on the other hand was sixty-one and it would be safe to say that his best days were behind him. Against CM Punk in 2012 Lawler put up a fight, but was clearly beaten by a better opponent- being made to tap out to Punk's Anaconda Vice on an episode of Raw.
In both his championship matches against the Miz (that's right, he had two) Lawler only missed out on becoming WWE Champion because Michael Cole interfered. Which made sense if you wanted to see a Michael Cole vs Jerry Lawler Match at Wrestlemania 27 but if you wanted the WWE Title treated with some...oh I don't know, gravitas, then these matches did little to avail that.
Is there no other babyfaces on the roster that could have faced the Miz for that title? Why not Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston? Or Daniel Bryan as Miz's former NXT apprentice? Why does a pointless feud have to cost a WWE Champion and his title so much?
The Miz didn't come across as a guy who the audience was aching to see the title move on from- particularly if the next guy was John Cena. Instead he came across as a champion who nobody cared all that much about. After all, compared to John Cena and the Rock, why would you? Unfortunately, a title match where the champion is just there is not a great way to come into the main event of your biggest show of the year.
Well, at least there was a match to make things better...
Firstly that all African American choir for John Cena followed by the lyrics to DMX's 'Prayer III' was, erm, weird to say the least. I know they were Atlanta, Georgia but that was a little on the nose.
Quick question- does anyone know of a modern Wrestlemania Main Event that has a more tepid crowd that this one? They were given the choice to boo a guy who they really couldn't care less about or cheer the other guy who they hated.
The second thing that is obvious about this match is that it is slow. Painfully slow. It is one of those Cena matches where his idea of selling is lying on the ground with his hands reaching for the ropes as if he is attempting to use the Force to bring them closer. The problem is that when he's on the ground, the Miz isn't doing anything except waiting for him to be in position for the next manoeuvre. There's no ground and pound, no taunting of the crowd, nothing. This is not helped by the fact that they are so many pinfall attempts by the Miz, which essentially stops the match from building momentum.
The irritating thing about Cena's selling though is that it is inconsistent- as always. Every now and then he'll show panther-like agility and in the second half of the match it looks like the numerous blows to the head which left him dazed and confused are now a mysterious distant memory.
Not that the match is beautifully worked anyway. My personal favourite moment of the match is when Cena is about to do the top rope legdrop. The Miz gets into position and then obviously, looks towards Cena and the turnbuckle and repositions himself- taking a good 3-5 seconds to do so.
Then there's Cena's horribly loose STF making a truly great appearance (honestly if I saw that move at Mania 27 for the first time I may well have assumed that Cena was just laying on him in order to make him submit). Or when the ref has to run around the front of the two wrestlers because they have shifted position so he can get into position just in time for his ref bump. Or the weird moment when John Cena aims for a shoulder tackle that Miz ducks...only to seemingly pass out momentarily (that's the only justification I have for it). Or when John Cena ducks the suitcase shot from the Miz and the Miz has to sorta...keep accelerating to actually get to Alex Riley on the outside. Or the brutally dangerous bump that the Miz takes from a Cena clothesline/tackle that leaves his head colliding with the concrete and giving him a concussion.
Luckily (for the Miz, not for the match) that's where the 1st match ends- with the countout. But then the Rock comes into save the day.
Which would be fine, except it takes a fucking age for him to get to the point. Thanks to the boneheaded idea to have the Rock read a Raw GM Email, the cheers gradually die down again. If he had come out, did his cool shtick straight away, the match may have got a bit of a boost. Instead by the time the Rock has finished, the crowd is dead again for the friggin' match.
And once again, WWE painted themselves into a corner. Because, of course the Rock's going to interfere for Wrestlemania 28. But that means that the Miz will be WWE Champion. And the WWE knew that it would be weird for the Miz standing tall to finish the show, so instead they had the Rock beat up Miz after the match had finished.
That's right, the babyface went back into the ring and beat up the heel who had just wrestled a 20 minute match. And though the crowd were kind of into it, the fact they had just seen an overbooked mess of a match (actually two overbooked messes of matches) left them feeling a bit numb to what should have been a great moment- the Rock standing tall at a Wrestlemania.
The Miz vs John Cena was a match that was forever built as the sacrificial lamb to be hauled out for the next Wrestlemania. If the match was really good, perhaps it wouldn't have come off as an insult. Alas it was anything but on a card that was full of disappointments.
And that's article 46. Next time we see what happens when one of the Best in the World tries to act like the Best in the World. Confused? All will be revealed...
The InVasion Saga
Article One: Shane has a surprise for Daddy
Article Two: Booker T vs Buff Bagwell and the Temple of Boos
Article Three: Daddy's little Girl Gets in on the Action