Breaking Down The Tough Enough Final Six

May 11, 2011 By: Category: Entertainment, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Tough Enough 2011 cast is down to sixStone Cold Steve Austin sent two members of WWE Tough Enough home this week, leaving only six. With only six Tough Enough 2011 cast members remaining, it is time to break down the final six and see who has the best chance of winning a WWE contract and the title of Tough Enough.

Let me just start by saying how much I really enjoyed this season. Steve Austin has been tremendous and has elevated the series to a new level. I know a lot of people criticized the decision to bring Bill DeMott back, but even DeMott has been great on the show this season. Overall the show has done a terrific job of bringing out everyone’s personalities and providing an exciting hour of weekly television. What more could you ask for?

With that said, it certainly isn’t perfect. The biggest criticism from people inside the wrestling business is that the kids really aren’t being taught how to wrestle. I think that is valid, although it appears that most of them had some kind of basic training. It would certainly appear that they are being judged more on athleticism at times than their actual ability to wrestle and perform an entertaining match in a WWE ring.

The Tough Enough cast is down to six and it should be of no surprise to anyone that all six have some kind of pro wrestling experience. Let’s break down the final six and see who is Tough Enough.

Martin Casaus - Donnie Osmond has gone from joke to favorite in my opinion. Casaus continues to shine in the ring and on challenges. Over the last few weeks Casaus has become a favorite among the trainers, leapfrogging Luke who was the show darling during the first few weeks.

Martin’s success thus far on the show shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. As a stockbroker he is very smart and detail oriented, and he also happens to have six years of experience. At this point in the competition it appears to be his to lose.

Jeremiah Riggs - At this stage of the game I would put “MMA” right up there with Martin as a potential winner. Being an MMA fighter has definitely given him an advantage over someone without that background coming into professional wrestling. In addition, he was also trained by the great Dutch Mantell as a pro wrestler so he certainly has all of the tools to win the competition.

In addition to what he has done on Tough Enough, he really shined on RAW when all of the contestants came to the ring. He was the best promo of the bunch and had more charisma inside of the ring that night than any of his peers. Right now the only thing prohibiting him from being the favorite is Martin yet in terms of personality, he is far and away the best in the house.

Luke Robinson – Viewers were ready to shut off the show after the first two weeks when it appeared that Luke was a runaway favorite to win the show. Heck, he was paid the biggest compliment of the group when Steve Austin laced up the boots and picked him as a workout partner inside of the ring. Unfortunately for young Luke, his arrogance got the better of him.

Luke certainly has the tools but it would appear that he is taking Martin and even Jeremiah a bit too lightly. Luke seems more insulted than inspired whenever he loses competitions to Martin and comes off a bit too trusting of Jeremiah. There is certainly a fine line between arrogance and confidence and unfortunately for Luke, he appears to be on the wrong side of that line. I don’t think he makes final two.

Andy Leavine - If I walked into that room knowing nothing about the cast and had to pick one guy to sign for my independent wrestling company it would probably be him on looks alone. He certainly has a marketable look as an athletic 6’5” giant and has shown flashes of charisma. But has he shown enough?

Tracy Smothers’ former student will be one of those losing Tough Enough cast members who wind up returning and achieving more in pro wrestling some past winners. I just don’t think he is quite at the level of Luke, Martin, or Jeremiah just yet. He has done everything well, but he hasn’t done anything great inside of the ring. It’ll come with time which unfortunately he doesn’t have on Tough Enough.

Christina Crawford - Christina is the sister of Alicia Fox and is the only remaining female on the show. Christina was one of the younger members of the house, although she seems fairly mature given her youth. I’d say out of all of the females, she definitely has the most potential to be a successful WWE Diva.

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As athletic as Christina is, she is not in the league of the above mentioned competitors inside of the ring. She certainly has potential, but she just seems too sloppy and awkward during drills to go much farther in the competition. Like Andy, I expect she’ll get a developmental deal and wind up as a successful Diva on the main roster at some point. It just won’t be as a result of winning Tough Enough.

A.J. Kirsch - I look at this guy every week and while he seems nice enough, I have no idea how he even got on the show. He is certainly athletic enough to do well inside of the ring, but he just has zero marketability or charisma. You could see the guy walking in the door the first day and know he would never make it to the finals.

A.J. has five years of experience and certainly seems comfortable in the ring. He just hasn’t done anything impressive. Quite frankly I forget he is even there half of the time. He could probably be a solid hand on the independent circuit, but I don’t see a WWE career in his future. He can run the ropes but he is just missing that “IT” factor.

Only four weeks remain and the competition will most definitely heat up over the next four episodes. The Tough Enough finale airs June 6 at 8 PM/EST on the USA Network.

MTV’s Behind WWF Tough Enough DVD

WWE – ‘Cause Stone Cold Said So DVD

WWE – Austin vs. McMahon – The Whole True Story DVD

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Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps – Chris Jericho autobiography

Plans For Tough Enough Season Two Underway

April 19, 2011 By: Category: Entertainment, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Stone Cold Steve Austin will be at WrestleMania 27It would appear that the USA Network has renewed WWE Tough Enough for a second season on their network. The reality television show which awards the winner a WWE contract will be coming back with new kids, a new season, and hopefully Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Nothing official has been released although it appears that preparations for a new season are already underway. Tough Enough 2011 coach Bill DeMott sent out a tweet on Monday which confirms that indeed, Tough Enough is coming back. DeMott casually tweeted on Monday morning.

Get your head out of your A** and watch @wwetoughenough…than sign up for season 2 and experience the Whole Damn Thing!

Now I poked around the Tough Enough website and Tough Enough’s social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter and saw nothing about tryouts. However, DeMott’s tweet has now been up for almost 24 hours. If it was a mistake or error, I am sure he would have pulled a Kurt Angle and deleted it by now. To me, this is confirmation of a second season.

I absolutely love Tough Enough this season and in the five seasons of the show, this season is far and away my favorite. To be honest, I think it all comes down to Stone Cold Steve Austin. He is just tremendous on the show and his promos during elimination (sans for this week) are far and away the best pro wrestling promos in the business today and maybe for the last several years. Austin is the difference and for me, it is must-see television.

The show is a USA Network production and it appears there have already been a few conflicts with the WWE. Former WWE Diva Stacy Keibler made a guest appearance on this week’s show. It was Keibler’s first WWE appearance in years. Guess what? It was never promoted on WWE television. The website is promoting Bret Hart for next week which is in theory a big deal. I see nothing about his appearance on today.

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The show was criticized before the season for the minimal amount of independent pro wrestlers it included in the Tough Enough cast. I know for a fact that several well known independent pro wrestlers were contacted about doing the show yet most reports indicate that the production company opted to go with less experienced wrestlers. Matt Capiccioni formerly known as MDogg 20 was the only real well known indy wrestler to make the show and he was gone after two weeks. It will be interesting to see if any well known independent wrestlers make the cut for the next season.

Overall I am not that crazy about the cast this season. It appears that they have one clear cut favorite in Luke with the rest of the pack following far behind him. I also haven’t seen anyone yet with the swagger needed to be a WWE superstar. Ryan of all people has come closest with his promo during elimination this past week. Then again if you look back at past season winners, I don’t remember any of them with any kind of flamboyant personality. The most successful winner John Morrison hardly showed anywhere close to the charisma he has now when he was on the show so who knows?

One thing to keep in mind this season is that some of the most successful Tough Enough alumni were pro wrestlers that actually didn’t win the show. The current WWE champion, The Miz did not win his season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of the kids signed up to WWE developmental deals and reappearing at some point down the line on RAW or SmackDown. Especially the big guys like Eric Watts, Jeremiah Riggs, Andy Leavine, and of course Luke being offered deals if they don’t win the show. Frankly, you are probably better off getting the exposure, losing, and then getting a developmental deal as opposed to winning with all of the pressures that come with it. Winners are expected to produce right away whereas the losers can take the time to learn in developmental the right way.

The ratings for the show have been a mixed bag. The Tough Enough season premiere rating was a huge success generating 3.3 million viewers and even beat The Ultimate Fighter season 13 premiere with featured WWE superstar Brock Lesnar. The Tough Enough second week ratings were way down and week three ratings aren’t available yet. Obviously the network is ecstatic about the ratings down or not to already be planning a second season.

It will also be interesting to see what kind of tinkering they do with the second season. Again, I can only hope Stone Cold Steve Austin sticks around. Of all the coaches, Trish Stratus and Booker T haven’t really done a whole heck of a lot so I think they are interchangeable. I know a lot of people don’t like Bill DeMott but he really is great in his role although honestly they could put any three former WWE wrestlers in there as long as Steve Austin sticks around.

MTV’s Behind WWF Tough Enough DVD

WWE – ‘Cause Stone Cold Said So DVD

WWE – Austin vs. McMahon – The Whole True Story DVD

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WWE Tough Enough 2011 Season Premiere Thoughts

April 05, 2011 By: Category: Entertainment, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Stone Cold Steve Austin will be at WrestleMania 27If I could see these kinds of Stone Cold Steve Austin promos on RAW every week I’d never tune out. Steve Austin delivered one of the greatest promos in years and Melina continues to get no respect from her WWE peers. Welcome back Tough Enough!

The first episode of WWE Tough Enough in over six years aired Monday on the USA Network. The show is back with a new format. While the show is still about contestants competing to win a WWE contract, in my eyes this show was all about one person and that was Stone Cold Steve Austin.

I give the first episode of Tough Enough a huge thumbs up and that is all a result of Steve Austin. If you missed the Attitude Era of the WWE or are new to pro wrestling, chances are that you have never seen or heard anyone like Stone Cold Steve Austin. By the end of the hour I was reminded not only how great Steve Austin is but just how low the bar has been set for promos in the 2011 version of the WWE.

Let’s start with a quick breakdown of the episode. The cast is mixed with former independent pro wrestlers, beauty queens, reality television personalities, and an MMA fighter. Former WWE superstars Booker T, Trish Stratus, and Bill DeMott run the drills and the training. WWE Hall of Fame wrestler Steve Austin oversees everything and acts as the Dana White of the show but in a much bigger a#$hole way. The coaches and Austin meet at the end of the show to evaluate the talent and pick three to go on the chopping block. The three then get a chance to plead their case to Judge Austin who has zero sympathy or empathy for any of their typical “hard luck” stories and makes the final call as to who leaves the show.

The 2011 Tough Enough cast is mixed up with some very strong and mild personalities. The first bit of conflict occurred when the kids moved into the house (more on that later). Rima told the house she is the current Miss USA. Nobody seemed to believe her and honestly I wouldn’t either. Are there really no prettier women in America? Anyway, Mickael Zaki started poking fun of her and making the usual sexist comments. The other girls rallied behind Rima and the dignified Miss USA started throwing stuff at Zaki (couldn’t that be grounds for termination?). Nothing much came out of this other than Miss USA going from sweet to feisty in seconds.

The front runner of the show appears to be Luke. Amazing that a guy who looks like every WWE wrestler out of FCW is the front runner right? Luke also happened to be the biggest partier in the house. That is going to come back to bite him, I can practically guarantee that.

The kids all live in a gorgeous house that makes the house on The Ultimate Fighter look like something out of Section 8. In the house you have your typical reality show partiers. Apparently they weren’t given the memo that most WWE superstars are supposed to go back to their hotel between matches to play video games, not drink. It didn’t appear that there were many gamers in the house. Luke and Jeremiah seem to be the instigators here. Have these kids ever watched an episode of The Ultimate Fighter? Well some of them did because a few including my old CZW colleague Matt Cross passed on the drinking and instead relaxed or worked out.

The first episode saw them put the kids through a lot of basic drills. Most did well except for a handful including “11 year veteran” Michelle Deighton. Michelle at one point told the coaches she had 11 years of experience. Bad move! Inside the ring she couldn’t even perform a basic bump. Ariane also had a real difficult time bumping.

Michelle’s 11 year comment reminded me of something I heard Raven say a few years back. Raven mentioned in an interview that he was surprised at the lack of experience and skill on the independent wrestling scene. He mentioned that a lot of kids will say they have 5-10 years of experience but in reality those years mean nothing when they only work a few matches a year, never against anyone of experience. Michelle may have 11 years of experience, but the fact she couldn’t take a simple bump is disturbing because there is some promoter out there that has used her and quite frankly, she could have hurt someone badly.

I hate to admit it but I did watch one season of America’s Top Model and that was the episode that featured Michelle. If she is anything like she was back in that season she is going to be a fun character to watch. She has the potential to be a real trouble maker in the house and stir it up. With that kind of personality I’d be surprised to see her leave early.

Steve Austin was just simply awesome throughout the entire episode. He ripped apart the kids during drills. He was in Stone Cold persona the entire show. The highlight of this show and arguably any other WWE programming in the last few years came at the end of the show. The coaches all pick three contestants that they feel aren’t “tough enough.” It is up to Austin to ask them why they should be there and make the final decision based on their answer, just like Gordon Ramsey does at the end of every Hell’s Kitchen episode. I was hoping to see him deliver a stunner to the exiled contestant but no luck.

Austin first asks Ariane who is the least experienced wrestler why she should stay? Ariane gives the typical reality TV canned answer about giving up everything she had to be there. Austin is not impressed and this is awesome. He just rolls his eyes and has zero compassion. He then asks Michelle the same question who responds with another canned answer about wanting to support her daughter, etc. Once again Austin is not impressed and delivers an awesome line, “Do you know how many times I got father of the year?” Eric is last but certainly not least and this is where the fun begins.

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If you are a wrestling fan that isn’t even the least bit interested in this show you owe it to yourself to watch these select few minutes. Austin asks Eric why he should stay and Eric gives a very static answer without any passion which sends Austin into a rage. Austin asks him to reverse roles and ask him why he should be there. Eric asks and Steve Austin cuts arguably one of the greatest promos of his career on this kid. It really is unbelievable to think that Austin wasn’t used to cut one promo before WrestleMania 27 to build up his role after seeing this. As great as this was the fun isn’t over yet.

Austin delivers the second great television moment of the night when he questions Ariane’s passion. Ariane says wrestling is new for her which angers Stone Cold. Stone Cold then asks her what her favorite wrestling match is. She answers, “Melina vs. Alicia Fox.” The look on Austin’s face when she delivers that answer to him is freaking priceless and simply awesome. I actually burst out in laughter with his reaction. Poor Melina! What a slap in the face to the current WWE diva. Hey, at least she didn’t say Marc Mero vs. Jeff Jarrett. That would have sent Austin into a rage! This was just a fantastic television moment.

While it really isn’t fair to compare Tough Enough 2011 to The Ultimate Fighter 13 it is kind of inevitable. The show was a million times more entertaining. The coaches, specifically Austin are worlds more entertaining than Brock Lesnar, Junior Dos Santos, or even Dana White. The show moves a lot faster and has a lot more going on than a typical TUF episode. On the negative, the coaches and Austin are a lot harder on the kids which is kind of ironic in that the fake entertainment coaches would be more difficult than the actual professional athletes.

At one point during a training session Steve Austin comes in on a motorcycle with the Stone Cold music piped in over the footage. That came off really cheesy, otherwise I thought the show came off pretty serious which is a huge improvement over the last Tough Enough competition.

Overall I thought it was a great show. Take Steve Austin out of there and I don’t know if I would go out of my way to see another episode. Austin is beyond great and so good that in fact I think he has given this entire series legs and would be shocked not to see another season. The only negative I came away from the show was thinking to myself just how in the world the WWE could let Steve Austin sit on the sidelines for as long as they did.

MTV’s Behind WWF Tough Enough DVD

WWE – ‘Cause Stone Cold Said So DVD

WWE – Austin vs. McMahon – The Whole True Story DVD

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Pre-order WWE WrestleMania 27 DVD

Hulk Hogan makes American Idol Appearance – Video

March 25, 2011 By: Category: American Idol, Entertainment, Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Hulk Hogan on American IdolThe Hulkster made a fun cameo on American Idol Thursday night. WWE Hall of Fame wrestler Hulk Hogan appeared live on Idol to let contestant James Durbin know he was safe. Even better, for what had to be the first time in over 25 years Hogan came out to Eye of the Tiger.

No matter how you feel about Hogan the TNA Wrestling booker, it is still pretty awesome to see the Hulkster doing his thing. I also think that at 57 years old and after several intense back operations Hogan still looks pretty darn good.

I don’t watch American Idol so I don’t know anything about the contestants but I thought it was really cool to see them all marking out at the Hulkster. Quite frankly it brought me back to my childhood and the “Hogan chill” I’d get when he’d make his way to the ring at the Philadelphia Spectrum. Like him or hate him the guy still has it. Check out the video of Hulk Hogan on American Idol and see for yourself.

Who needs Jersey Shore castoffs on your show when you have this guy every week?

I would have preferred to see Hogan bring back the Belzer choke!

WWE: Hulk Hogan’s Unreleased Collector’s Series DVD

WWE – Hollywood Hulk Hogan – Hulk Still Rules DVD

Hulk Hogan’s autobiography, My Life Outside the Ring.

WWE – Hulk Hogan: The Ultimate Anthology on DVD.

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WWE: The True Story of WrestleMania DVD

Jersey Shore Snooki to appear on WWE RAW tonight

March 14, 2011 By: Category: Entertainment, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Snooki is going to get RAWWho said one bad idea in pro wrestling doesn’t deserve another? Seeing the ratings bomb Jersey Shore stars have been on TNA Impact, WWE will go down the same road. Jersey Shore’s Snooki will roll into WWE RAW next Monday to start some kind of an angle which will make her a part of WrestleMania 27.

Can someone please send pro wrestling writers and management a memo that reads, “Wrestling fans hate Jersey Shore!” If you don’t believe me just take a look at how well TNA Impact has done with Jersey Shore stars. Ratings have been abysmal for TNA Impact whenever Jersey Shore stars are featured, yet the WWE is somehow convinced that they can do better.

Jersey Shore castoff Angelina Pivarnick has turned into a full-fledged pro wrestler with TNA Wrestling. Angelina signed last month and has been a disaster in every which way possible for TNA. Reportedly, TNA paid Angelina $7,000 for her matches. That $7,000 cost TNA their lowest rated segment last week for Angelina’s debut. TNA ratings plummeted from a 1.52 to a 1.17 for the Jersey Shore’s segment which was the lowest of the show.

Additionally, Pivarnick reportedly told that she had been drinking and popping energy pills before her match. You too can also buy that same kind of publicity and atrocious rating for a mere $7,000.

If that wasn’t bad enough, TNA reportedly paid actual Jersey Shore star J Woww $15,000 to make an appearance earlier in the year. Unlike Angelina, J Woww did not wrestle but appeared in a segment with Jersey Shore inspired TNA characters. Like her ex-roomie, J Woww’s segment was also the lowest rated segment of the TNA Impact show in which she appeared in. The ratings for J Woww dropped from a 1.53 to a 1.37 which while better than Angelina’s rating, was still the lowest rated segment of the show.

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Unlike Angelina there were no reports of J Woww boozing and popping pills before her match.

Not to be outdone by TNA Wrestling’s brilliant ideas, reports that Snooki will appear on WWE RAW live Monday March 14. The report does not indicate whether the Snookster will wrestle or just make an appearance. Hey at least the WWE are at least smart enough to book a television star that won’t be competing with her own show.

I just don’t get it. Right now the WWE is red hot with two weeks of monster RAW ratings and a ton of momentum thanks to the returns of The Rock and Steve Austin. The increase in ratings come from a lot of fans who haven’t tuned into to RAW in awhile to check out Stone Cold and The Rock. I can’t imagine how thrilled those fans will be to watch someone from Jersey Snore invade WWE RAW.

Reports also indicate that Snooki will be a part of WrestleMania 27. I just wish one day that these wrestling creative writers and Vince McMahon would stop being marks for Hollywood. The obsession in the WWE and TNA as well with celebrities and TMZ gossip is nothing that appeals to general wrestling fans. Ratings for TNA and the celebrity guest host appearances last year prove this yet the WWE and TNA continue to obsess over getting celebrities involved with their shows.

Snooki will probably be involved with Maryse at WrestleMania 27. Maryse made entertainment blogs back in January when she wrote on her Twitter, “Snooki is a ny time bestseller. Common. She’s a fat midget…”

I get it and I don’t think this kind of a thing is necessarily a bad thing but TNA’s experiences prove pro wrestling fans don’t want to watch Jersey Shore stars and will turn the channel in protest. Additionally, now is not the time to pull something like this. Maybe in the off months like May, June, or July but the WWE is playing with fire here.

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Jersey Shore: Season One (Uncensored)

A Shore Thing – Snooki’s book

WWE Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 80s

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Updated – Chris Jericho to be on ABC Dancing With the Stars

February 28, 2011 By: Category: Entertainment, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Chris Jericho to be a Contestant on ABC Dancing With the StarsIf you had your money on Chris Jericho chasing the Mirror Ball Trophy and not the WWE World Heavyweight Championship as his next piece of gold, first off, you’re lying, and secondly, head to the nearest lottery branch and get some scratch-offs while luck is in the air.

That’s because news is everywhere today that Chris Jericho was announced as one of the twelve contestants on the upcoming season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars“.

It was just last week when nationally syndicated radio show host and ‘That Metal Show’ host Eddie Trunk hinted that Chris Jericho had some pretty big plans in the works. Trunk and Jericho are very good friends, so when Trunk says something about Jericho, it can pretty much be taken to the bank.

”Congrats to my bud and what he will be announcing he is doing next will be a shocker,” said Trunk. “I’ll leave it at that.”

Considering he probably wasn’t talking about Chris Jericho’s recent Slammy nomination for the category “Shocker of the Year”, Trunk was onto something that he literally seemed to battle with himself on the air to not spill. When you take Trunk’s comments and factor them in with the news that is coming from literally every entertainment outlet today, here is your Chris Jericho “shocker”.

The idea itself isn’t that far-fetched. Let’s not forget that Jericho did host the ABC game show “Downfall” that premiered in June 2010. The show stopped airing after only five episodes and dismal ratings, prompting people to believe that the show was canceled. Jericho later cleared up that rumor by stating that only 5 episodes of the show were taped due to time constraints and that more episodes would be filmed in the fall. Since there hasn’t been any news on any tapings for the show taking place this past fall, the assumption is that the show was indeed canceled.

This comes at a crucial time in the career of Chris Jericho. Jericho is 40 years old, has said that he intends to continue wrestling, but probably only has one run left in him. He’s one of very few active professional wrestlers that has any sort of crossover mainstream appeal. He’s one of the few wrestling names that non-wrestling fans know or have heard from. While Jericho goes across the world to promote his new book “Undisputed: How to Become The World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps”, he’s asked the “when will you return to wrestling” question at every single stop by nearly every single fan and member of the media.

On February 1, Jericho told Brian Fritz of AOL Fanhouse that a contract to return to the WWE was 90% done.  When asked about a return, Jericho gave an in-depth response: “I consider it always because it’s not like it was in 2005 where I was sick of wrestling. Sick of it is maybe a harsh word. Disenchanted, I guess, is a better word. I wasn’t disenchanted when I left in September. It was just my contract was up. That was it. And there were other things just waiting to come through. Even if I was coming back, I always would have taken those four months, three months off to do the Fozzy tours. Then other things have kind of popped up to delay my return.”

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When asked about his current contractual statues with WWE, Jericho shocked us all by stating: “I mean, there’s a deal on the table. A deal on the table that’s 90-percent done. There’s a couple of minor things that we had to hammer out. It would just be a matter of what other stuff is going on and how that stuff is going.”

I don’t believe it’s a question of if Chris Jericho will return to WWE, but more of a matter of when. Maybe that 10% of the deal that is still unresolved and in-need of being hammered out is a short stint for Jericho on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”. The WWE has been without Jericho for months now, and given its current youth movement, a few more months without Y2J won’t hurt.

In the long-run, the WWE will greatly benefit from having one of the biggest stars in the history of the company on one of the highest-rated shows on television. Jericho seems to want to continue wrestling while juggling his other projects and it seems to be something that the WWE is fine with. Jericho brings enough to the table that they can allow this. Whatever Jericho does, he’ll always find a way to return to the WWE.

In the meantime, if you were really hoping for that Wrestlemania return for the “Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah”, you’re going to have wait just a few more months. If you want to see Jericho, you can see him attempting to Fox Trot his way into the hearts of a brand new audience around the globe.

The official cast announcement for the upcoming season of “Dancing with the Stars” has been released. confirms the news.

Brett Clendaniel is the owner and managing editor of

Breaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Chris Jericho

Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps – Chris Jericho autobiography

WWE Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 80s

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TNA Wrestling sign 1 & 1/2 Celebrities

February 24, 2011 By: Category: Entertainment, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports, WWE | Pro Wrestling

TNA has signed Jersey Shore AngleinaAs if you needed another reason not to watch TNA Impact, TNA Wrestling have signed two new stars. Jersey Shore castoff Angelina Pivarnick and New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott will be appearing on upcoming TNA shows. Angelina will wrestle while Scott will just make a cameo.

I went back and forth on this lazy Thursday as to whether I wanted to blog about Angelina signing with TNA Wrestling. I woke up to a report from TMZ that Angelina has signed to wrestle in TNA. Angelina is a pro wrestling fan and given TNA’s desperate attempts at any publicity even at the expense of their declining ratings, the deal is no shock. The crack TNA creative department are already at work leaking word that Angelina will challenge Jersey Shore’s J Woww to a wrestling match. Hey at least Survivor Jenna Morasca may have a shot at relinquishing her worst match in TNA Wrestling history title if it happens.

Alex Marvez at Fox Sports also reports that New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott will be making an appearance at an upcoming TNA Impact show. Scott made headlines with an emotional post game interview following the New York Jets playoff win over the New England Patriots. Hulk Hogan and Scott exchanged pleasantries in the press regarding the promo and Scott confessed to being a Hulkamaniac. Unlike Angelina, this one makes sense and may actually bring TNA Wrestling some nice publicity from the sports media.

Don’t expect Bart Scott to wrestle. There are clauses in his NFL contract with the New York Jets that prevent that from happening. TNA ran into a similar situation a few years back when they signed Adam “Pac Man” Jones. Jones, an NFL player was serving an NFL suspension when TNA signed him to wrestle. The only problem here was that Jones was prohibited from wrestling due to his contract with the Tennessee Titans. I will give them their due as they did get a ton of publicity from the sports world including Adam Jones and Jeff Jarrett appearing on ESPN. Unfortunately it meant nothing for them a week later.

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The Angelina signing is hysterical on so many levels that I really just feel bad for anyone that is a TNA Wrestling fan today. TNA reportedly signed J Woww who is actually on the Jersey Shore to a deal reportedly for 15,000 to appear on TNA Impact. How did that go over? Well for one, TNA in their infinite wisdom aired the segments in the 10:00 PM hour going head to head with Jersey Shore, losing whatever Jersey Shore fans they have sucked in to see J Woww. Two, J Woww’s segment was such a ratings flop that it was the lowest rated segment of the night.

Angelina will reportedly be a full blown out pro wrestler in the company teaming with Robbie E. and my old WEW and DWOWO pal, Cookie as a heel. Angelina was only a handful of episodes in two seasons with the Jersey Shore and is probably the least known of the group. Here is a little secret that TNA may not be aware of. Jersey Shore fans don’t like Angelina, thus they have zero interest in watching her wrestle or get her due via a babyface. On top of that, who is to say that Angelina will even stick with TNA? This is the same girl that walked out twice on one of the biggest television shows in America (yes it pains me also to write it). What happens when the going gets tough in TNA?

Ironically this news comes four days after Jeff Jarrett tweets, “The true definition of madness is repeating the same action, over and over, hoping for a different result.” – Albert Einstein

Some people never learn.

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Stone Cold Steve Austin will host WWE Tough Enough

January 29, 2011 By: Category: Entertainment, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Stone Cold Steve Austin is coming back to the WWEThe most popular WWE superstar of the last two decades is coming back. Stone Cold Steve Austin will be returning to WWE television as host of the Tough Enough. Austin’s return is great news for WWE fans and signifies a big commitment from the WWE and USA Network to the reality television show.

This is huge news for pro wrestling fans as the return of Steve Austin adds a much needed boost of excitement back to World Wrestling Entertainment programming. While Austin is only scheduled to be a part of Tough Enough, I would imagine a couple of appearances on WWE RAW to promote the television show are a given.

Before anyone gets too excited it is still unclear exactly what Austin’s role as host on the show will be. Note he Steve Austin was announced as the host and not the head trainer or coach so I don’t expect to see Austin working with the kids or coming to the house (if there is one). My guess is that Austin will cut pre-taped segments to be spliced throughout the show. Any chance of Austin training with or interacting with the students probably wouldn’t happen until the finale if at all.

Once again I think this says a whole lot about the direction of Tough Enough and the commitment from all parties involved. I loved the first two seasons of the show but the contest went downhill in my opinion with the fourth season (The Miz’s season). The season or contest (since there was no actual show) was nothing more than a few weeks or ribs and mockery of the contestants. I couldn’t imagine that Steve Austin would associate with anything remotely close to that season. Austin’s involvement signifies a stronger commitment in my mind to making this a great show and not some kind of goofy NXT spinoff.

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I am excited to the Rattlesnake back on television even if it only involves a few cutaways here and there. The show will also introduce a whole new generation of wrestling fans to Steve Austin. Austin’s last regular TV run was promoting his special referee gig for WrestleMania XXIII in 2007. He had a longer run between 2003-2004 as WWE GM and “Sheriff” of RAW, but has been a pretty infrequent WWE star over the last few years.   Unfortunately for the WWE roster, the current generation of WWE fans will also soon see the difference between a megastar like Austin and a superstar like John Cena or Triple H. has some comments from the WWE Hall of Fame pro wrestler about his new gig. “I am very excited about the opportunity to work with my old friends at WWE on ‘WWE Tough Enough.’ Sports-entertainment has always been an important part of my life, and I look forward to finding the next generation of WWE Superstars,” said Austin.

It appears from things I have read and heard that this edition of Tough Enough will cast experienced pro wrestlers unlike other seasons that looked for people with little to no pro wrestling experience that wanted to compete for a WWE contract. A few friends of mine that have been wrestling for years on the independent pro wrestling circuit have been contacted about possibly doing the show so I know for a fact that they were looking at some experienced wrestlers. This is what the UFC does with The Ultimate Fighter and I think it works out a lot better in the long run. I would also suspect that if the contestants already know how to wrestle and bump than the coaches will focus more on things like in-ring psychology and conditioning.

WWE Tough Enough returns for a fifth go-around on April 4, yes the day after WrestleMania 27 immediately after RAW. Tough Enough season five will air weekly at 8 PM/EST leading into RAW on the USA Network.

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Counterpoint: The Miz Is the Right Guy to Hold the WWE Championship

December 02, 2010 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

As you may have read Monday, the boss-man here, Eric Gargiulo, wrote a piece about how The Miz may end up as the worst WWE Champion of all-time. While he dislikes Miz, he was arguing from a position not as a hater, but as someone who thinks Miz wasn’t built up well enough. Okay, it’s easy to call the WWE out on half-assedly building up a new star.

I do it all the time, sometimes here but most of the time on my other blog. However, I don’t this is one of those cases. I propose that The Miz is the perfect guy to hold the title right now, and that the WWE has actually done a bang-up job of preparing him for this moment. Forget the fact that I may be the foremost Miz mark on the Internet, because I’m about to drop some truth that even the most objective of observers can agree is real talk.

Rewind about 16 months ago. The Miz had just been split from his former tag team partner, John Morrison, via The Draft. After doing some small-time petty sideshow acts, the most notably being shooting Hornswoggle in the groin with a t-shirt cannon, Miz started to really stake his claim by calling out John Cena each week.

Cena, in the midst of a heated yet one-sided feud with The Big Show, ignored The Miz at first, but after awhile, he took notice. The results were less than stellar, with Cena squashing Miz four matches to zero in their televised series that year. This was the nadir of Miz’s WWE career in the last two or three years, where at one point, he was fired from RAW and banned from SummerFest (as Jeremy Piven called SummerSlam), banished as a joke.

Now, if the story jumped from here all the way to Miz’s epic title win from last week, maybe E would have a point here. That is essentially what happened to Jack Swagger earlier this year. The All-American American American American American American American went from being in a hot feud with MVP in the summertime to really going nowhere, making sporadic appearances on RAW only to job to Santino before the Royal Rumble.

Then, he all-of-a-sudden won Money in the Bank and cashed in days later to win the World Heavyweight Championship. He had no heat behind him. He had no build. Despite the fact that as Champion, he should have gone over Randy Orton and others in a clean fashion in non-title situations, he didn’t because if he had not been Champion, it wouldn’t have been believable at that point. Swagger’s Money in the Bank cash-in is a textbook example of how NOT to book someone’s first title win.

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However, the script did not have a lengthy gap in it for Miz. In the time between his return to RAW, which was a week later, and his title win, Miz won the United States Championship twice, the Unified Tag Championships once, feuded with Bret Hart, cut the most iconic promo of calendar year 2010 when he recounted how bullies such as JBL and Chris Ben… err, maybe not him, but it was implied, forced him out of the locker room because he spilled chicken crumbs into their bags, was a pro on two seasons of NXT and got maybe the most TV time out of anyone not named Cena or Orton in the last year or so. None of that build was for naught either. By the time Miz had won the title last week, he was getting some of the loudest heel reactions in the company. The iron was hot and the WWE struck.

We often criticize the company for failing to capitalize on guys at their heat’s peak. Here, they built up a wrestler in the best way possible and capitalized on him at the right time, and we’re worried about whether he was ready? If The Miz wasn’t ready to win the title last Monday, then he was never going to be ready. Ever.

Disregard the fact that Miz is one of the best promo men in the company, or that he’s come a long way in the ring to the point where he’s a guy who can carry weaker workers to okay matches. He’s been built up as the WWE’s future, and for once, arguably for the first time since they strapped Stone Cold Steve Austin, they got someone at the exact right time. It couldn’t have come at a better time either.

Wade Barrett is not ready to hold the WWE Championship. Cena’s old hat, and Orton’s heat has tapered off in addition to the fact that he’s not the merchandise seller that they hoped he’d be. Sheamus has been used as a jobber to the stars in the last couple of months. Right now, The Miz is the best option going forward to hold the WWE Championship by a fairly large margin. The guy can generate heat that will help get any talent over enough to perhaps spike merch sales, and he’s got the goods in the ring.

Eric knows that I respect his opinion a ton, or else I wouldn’t be writing here at all. But I don’t think I could disagree more with his take on The Miz. For lack of a better term, Miz is AAAAAWESOMMMME, and I’m glad the WWE has recognized that now before it was too late.

Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.

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Inside The Wheelhouse: The Miz’s path to the Top of the WWE Mountain

December 01, 2010 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Miz cashed in money in the bank and won the WWE titleWhether you like him or hate him, you have to give the guy credit. The Miz is a living, breathing example of someone who never gives up on his dream and climbs to the top of his profession to reach his goal. He has climbed from the bottom of the ladder in the WWE all the way to the top of the WWE by being crowned the WWE Champion this past Monday Night Raw. No one ever thought, I included, that The Miz would have ever been crowned the WWE Champion.

The Miz started his WWE journey as a MTV Reality TV Star competing on WWE’s last edition of Tough Enough on the Smackdown brand. He would make it all the way to finals before losing to Daniel Puder in that season’s edition of Tough Enough. It appeared that The Miz, then known as Mike Mizanin, would not be able to achieve his goal to become a WWE star.

Mike Mizanin received a break when the WWE signed him to a developmental deal shortly after his time on Tough Enough and he would be stationed at then WWE Developmental territory’s, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) & Deep South Wrestling (DSW). The Miz’s dream of being a WWE superstar, one that we saw played out on his time on MTV’s Real World: Back to New York season had continued life after being signed to a WWE Developmental Deal.

After spending time in Developmental and working dark/house show matches The Miz would finally be called up to the main roster. The position was not that of a wrestler, but as a ‘host” of Smackdown & the WWE Diva Search contest. Mizanin would describe the hosting position as being the ‘WWE’s version of Ryan Seacrest.”

The Miz’s time on the main roster serving as a ‘host” would be unforgettable, unless you’re a fan of YouTube. The Miz would have moments where he would go on to blunder his lines on live television and be booed out of the arena in which he was ‘hosting.” It was appearing that The Miz was destined to be ‘future endeavored.”

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The WWE would change the career path of The Miz as the ‘host” position was no more and he became a full fledged wrestler on the Smackdown! brand. He would receive some decent wins but nothing that would pan him out to be a future star. It wasn’t until being drafted to the ECW brand where we saw The Miz’s career path become saved in the WWE.

It was the ECW brand that saw The Miz’s career saved as the WWE gave him the gimmick of being a ‘chick magnet.” He would have brief feuds with ECW original Balls Mahoney and be paired up with the ‘Extreme Expose” tandem of Kelly Kelly, Layla and Brooke. But his career path would once again take a different turn thanks to of all people, the WWE fans.

If you can remember it was the WWE fans that ‘gave” The Miz his first World Championship match. It was the fans that voted him into facing CM Punk at Cyber Sunday for the ECW Championship. While The Miz lost to CM Punk at Cyber Sunday, the voting process was crucial in the career path of The Miz as it would shortly there after lead to The Miz pairing with John Morrison.

The Miz & John Morrison were paired up as a Tag Team to formulate an ‘odd couple” tag team, a team that truly wasn’t a team and was more blanketed by their egos. It appeared at first look that the pairing was to just give them both some sort of storyline and nothing more. As they would capture the Tag Team Championship from the odd couple team of Matt Hardy & MVP and would go on to become one of the best tag teams in the WWE this decade.

The pairing of The Miz & Morrison would go down as a successful one for the creative team thanks to the use of the internet. It was then where The Miz & John Morrison both started to develop personas and personalities as the internet show ‘The Dirt Sheet” was formed. Catch phrases were developed, their Tag Team was being taken more seriously and they were becoming fan favorites for what they said on the mic & did in the ring.

Miz & Morrison were one of the best WWE Tag Team’s in the decade and just like anything Tag Team in the WWE lately they were disbanded in favor of seeing their careers move to being single’s wrestler. Morrison was moved to the Smackdown brand where he was poised to become a star in the WWE out of the duo while The Miz was on Raw where many believed he would get lost in the shuffle. Many believed that Morrison was the Shawn Michaels of the group while The Miz was the Marty Jannetty of the duo.

On the Raw brand we would witness The Miz pull a card out of the deck of a younger Chris Jericho where he would call out John Cena week after week asking for a match from the top gun of the company. Many felt, including yours truly, that the feud would go onto bury The Miz rather then elevate him. Miz would receive a Pay-Per-View match with John Cena and would be on the losing end of the match, appearing to not receive any elevation from the match.

Looking back at the move to put The Miz in the match with Cena now, reminds me of when the WWE put another heel in a match with a mega face in which many thought would help elevate the young star. Go back to 2003 when a young John Cena received a WWE Championship match against then champion Brock Lesnar. The match would not help elevate Cena at the time, but looking back at it now, it was very crucial in the career development of John Cena. It appears that now, that was the same thing for The Miz.

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Another move that would go down as career defining move by The Miz would be when of all people, Jeremy Piven, the then guest host for Raw for that particular show, would make a match between The Miz & John Cena where if Miz lost he would be banned from Raw. The Miz would go onto lose the match and be forced to leave the flagship brand of the WWE. Immediately after losing the match many people thought that we would begin to see the burial of The Miz as he would not be allowed on WWE programming.

But it would be a week later where a now famous character named ‘The Calgary Kid” would debut in a contact on a pole match against the returning Eugene on Raw. ‘The Calgary Kid” would win the match and reveal himself to be The Miz, hence returning back to Monday Night Raw, as well as WWE programming. The move would be the match that would kick The Miz’s career into where it is today.

It was here in The Miz’s career where he would start to become the internet darling that he is today. Similar to instances where the internet backed wrestlers like Matt Hardy & CM Punk would we see the popularity of The Miz climb to new heights. The Miz appeared that he had the ‘it” factor that fans were clamoring for, as he received comparisons to The Rock & Chris Jericho on the microphone.

The WWE would go on to put the WWE United States Championship around the waist of The Miz giving him his first single’s championship. He would continue to gain respect from the fans not only for his ability on the microphone but also for his improvement in the ring as he would bring stability to the United States Championship division. The Miz was continuing to climb the ladder the success in the WWE.

The creative team would continue to see more in him as a wrestler as they would put the WWE Tag Team Championship on him during the same he time he was holding the United States Championship to make him a doubled champion and one of the over heels on the Raw brand. Despite losing the championships over time, The Miz would continue to dominate on WWE programming as a star. After losing the WWE United States Championship to WWE Hall-Of-Famer Bret ‘The Hitman” Hart in a move that many people thought would hurt the star, it would prove to help continue to elevate him and he soon would regain the WWE United States Championship for a 2nd time.

The climb to the top reached its highest point in July of 2010 as he would go on to win the Raw brand’s ‘Money in the Bank” match guaranteeing The Miz a chance to have a WWE Championship match whenever he wanted. It was almost certain that The Miz was now poised to be a future World Champion due to the success of the Money in the Bank briefcase. In the same night The Miz won the Money In the Bank briefcase it was the same time that the voice in the headset of Michael Cole wanted the audience to know that The Miz was the ‘Future of Monday Night Raw.”

When those words are coming from the mouth of Vince McMahon you know a superstar is deemed to be special. The announcers aren’t told to say something like that by the boss for no reason; it is to prepare the audience that a superstar is going to be the ‘next big thing” in the company. A moniker we don’t see often used in the WWE unless they truly want to strap the rocket ship to the star.

Rumors were speculating that it was possible that The Miz was going to be the first Money in the Bank winner to NOT win the WWE Championship. That creative believed he didn’t need the briefcase to become over with the fans and that he was already there. Those rumors were squashed when the WWE finally decided it was time to ‘cash in” on the popularity of The Miz.

The Miz would cash in the Money in the Briefcase and go on to win the WWE Championship in one of the most talked about Raw’s of the year. A Raw that many people believed to quite possibly be the best Raw of the year. The move of The Miz winning the WWE Championship had fans buzzing and excited to watch WWE programming. It’s exactly what the WWE wanted to happen.

The career of The Miz has to be one of the hardest fought careers of any wrestler in any wrestling promotion that we have seen. Never has there been a wrestler who many believed to be ‘future endeavored” and never be anything more then a mediocre wrestler at best, beat the odds & become the WWE Champion. The most redeeming thing of it all for The Miz is not only did he beat the odds to win the WWE Championship, but for the most part, he beat the odds and won over the fans.

When you look back at the career of The Miz from today to when he first got into the business, you have to respect what he has accomplished and the ceiling that he could still accomplish. It truly has been a great story to see how The Miz has become a star and defeated all the naysayers by becoming one of the most over wrestlers in the business today & becoming the WWE Champion.

Whether you like him, or you hate him, you have to respect him. Congrats to Mike Mizanin on beating all the odds, never giving up and conquering your dream. Your attitude and work ethic is what Champions are made of.

What do you think about The Miz winning the WWE Championship? Tell us your thoughts on ‘The Still Real to Us Show” by e-mailing us over at [email protected] and give us your thoughts on whether you agree with more or not! Then go ahead and download the show this Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at or to find out if your pick made it to the air!

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday – Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at and at @ 2am ET/11pm PT

Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site..”

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Is there Money in The Miz?

November 26, 2010 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Miz cashed in money in the bank and won the WWE titleOne thing that World Wrestling Entertainment does well is make new stars. On the Monday November 22, 2010 edition of Monday Night Raw, live from Orlando, FL, WWE took a gamble with putting its main title (WWE Championship) on one of the company’s biggest heels, and some could arguably say, one of the most annoying heels in the business today, The Miz Mike Mizanin.

Mizanin began his career on MTV’s The Real World in 2001. Mizanin entered the fourth season Tough Enough, and then signed a developmental deal with Deep South Wrestling and was given a title run in that promotion. In 2006, Mizanin signed a WWE contract took part in the Diva Search then debuted on SmackDown in 2007 and was later “drafted” to ECW.

Each week, The Miz’s mic work gets better. He is one heel that I always look forward to on Raw because you never know what he going to say. With the departure of Chris Jericho, it would seem that the WWE is looking not only to pop ratings for its flagship show, but to elevate The Miz into the spot Chris Jericho has been in, which is that slimy sarcastic fan hating heel.

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The Miz really doesn’t need a title belt to get over as one of the most hated heels in the business, but it sure has helped his advance his character. The WWE Championship could indeed take him to that next level of being that heel everyone wants to hate and with a huge target on his back. As a multiple WWE World Tag Team and United States Champion, the WWE has taken a gamble on putting the WWE Championship on The Miz.

WWE did a great job of capturing the faces of the fans that displayed those priceless faces of disgust when The Miz won the WWE title, which means both The Miz and WWE are doing its job to make the fans angry. So the question remains, is there money in The Miz?. The next few weeks of Raw will tell the story with how much the fans continue boo to him.

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The Miz wins the WWE Championship – AWWWWWESOME!

November 23, 2010 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Miz cashed in money in the bank and won the WWE titleLast night on WWE Raw, if you’re a fan of John Cena or Randy Orton, there’s a pretty good chance you’re feeling MIZ-ERABLE today. In a shocking title change during the closing minutes of Raw, The Miz defeated Randy Orton to capture his first WWE Championship. There are many saying “The Era of Awesomeness” has begun. I disagree. The Era of Awesomeness has been well underway for a while now.

Let’s be honest. Who thought the kid from “The Real World” would go on to become WWE Champion? Not many of us. Even after entering the fourth season of “Tough Enough”, the skepticism remained. Yet if you go back & look at Miz’s career before being called up to the main WWE roster, Miz was showing signs of the making of a champion. Trained in UPW & DSW (even becoming the first Deep South Champion), Miz went to OVW & won tag team championship gold there.

After a run on SmackDown!, Miz was drafted to WWE’s ECW brand, winning both the WWE & World Tag Team Championships during his stint on the brand with John Morrison. The duo was unarguably the best thing to happen to WWE’s tag team division in a LONG time. With great matches & an entertaining web show entitled “The Dirt Sheet”, many, myself included, were dismayed when the team was broken up in the 2009 Draft, as Miz became a part of the Raw roster. Little did we realize the star of the Miz was about to shine. Miz closed out 2009 as the United States Champion, his first singles championship since becoming a member of Raw.

The wave of success would continue into this year. As United States Champion, Miz teamed with the Big Show & went on to capture the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship. Brandishing 3 championships at the same time, Miz was easily “That Guy” of the WWE, yet was catching on with the fans at the same time much like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin & The Rock. He was becoming the heel it was cool to cheer. More & more Miz shirts started appearing on fans & the fans found themselves finishing promos along with him with the catchphrase “I’m the Miz & I’m Awesome”. Winning Raw’s “Money in the Bank” match, it seemed to only be a matter of time before Miz would go on to hold the WWE Title.

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A 9 year journey came to an end last night & an amazing year for the Miz turned into something truly epic. Randy Orton defeated Nexus leader Wade Barrett in a Survivor Series rematch to retain the WWE Championship, despite an assault by the stable prior to the match. With 5 minutes left in Raw’s broadcast, Miz cashed in the Money in the Bank & defeated Randy Orton, becoming the new WWE Champion. In this calendar year alone, the Miz has been a Raw Grand Slam Title Holder; a 2 time United States Champion, Unified Tag Team Champion, & now the WWE Champion. Not many can claim they’ve accomplished so much in their career, let alone in a calendar year.

A big congratulations to Mike “The Miz” Mizanin. Last night, he proved to all of us that if you have a dream, it can be achieved through hard work & dedication. We should all be so lucky. Let the Era of Awesome continue into 2011 & beyond!

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