Anyone can be a tough guy on the internet.
Don’t believe me? Well, Mr. new-to-the-digital-age, just gander around, and look for any high-traffic message board or forum. Anywhere that boasts a large audience of users is going to run into this phenomenon. Once some pasty, plump, zit-infested miscreant realizes that his words, whatever they may be, will be displayed to a large network of people around the globe, he’s faced with two choices.
a) post a well thought out opinion, full of merit and intellect, in an attempt to peaceably join the community that he’s posting to.
b) refer to the other users with racist and sexual slurs, lambast the prevailing opinion of the users (even if you agree with it), and brag about your (mostly fictional) sexual exploits.
Now, admittedly, option B sounds like it can be a lot of fun, especially if you’ve had a rotten day at work or school. The internet has created this form of release, allowing people to be acidic trash talkers with total anonymity. No one can beat you up and give you a swirlie in a sewage-filled commode if they don’t even know who you are, right?
In the world of pro wrestling on the internet, the rules of anonymous badgering are basically the same, but with one notable difference.
Spend twenty minutes on any wrestling message board where the activity is often, regarding the current product. You’ll find a lot of self-righteous fans who strongly believe that anything that WWE or TNA presents them that doesn’t correspond with what “they” think should have happened is wrong, and will result in the loss of fans and the overall downfall of the promotion. Of course, not EVERY fan is like that, but it is a bit staggering that so many fans fancy themselves to be experts on the subject of piecing together a successful two hour show that will sustain interest, draw fans, and sell pay-per-views and merchandise.
I’m all for passion and enthusiasm, but there are so many fans who have no patience at all, not wanting to see the meaning behind each development. Take internet fan favorite Charlie Haas for instance. If WWE were to job Haas to Drew McIntyre in two minutes, Haas’ supporters would declare that they’re burying a good talent in Haas. My glass-is-half-full view would be that WWE thinks Drew would make a great upper carder, and wanted him to have a decisive win over a talented hand to make him look like a threat. These are the same fans who declared that the reason Paul London was spinning his wheels in the mud was because he wasn’t a favorite of management. What else could be a logical reason for a talent of his caliber not being used on a higher level? I mean, besides recklessness and drug use. Oh, that was the reason? Well, makes sense then.
On Monday night, January 11, however, it took The Miz to fully make my point about “patience”.
When Michael Mizanin crawled his way out of Ohio Valley to the main roster in 2006, the first role he was given was both main shows, serving as the Diva Search host on Raw and the in-crowd host on Smackdown. In both roles, he couldn’t have been more annoying unless he wielded a bike horn in each hand. This was especially true on Raw, where the butchered his lines and got the diva contestants’ names wrong on a frequent basis. What were we to make of this man? He looked like a repugnant offspring of Ryan Seacrest and Spencer Pratt, subsisting on a diet of four hundred pixie sticks a day. On a roster that boasted Edge, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, Shawn Michaels, and the Undertaker, was there even a chance that this kooky kid breaks the glass ceiling to main eventdom?
To be fair, I was part of that majority that rolled his eyes at Miz. He showed no real prowess in the ring that would make me see any kind of potential. In fact, if anything, he was probably better off as a manager, or hosting his own interview segment. You know, provided that he could remember his lines.
But something happened.
It’s 2010, and not only would I not be shocked to see The Miz as a main eventer….I’m really hoping that he does.
Forget the early part of his career when he feuded with the likes of Layla El and The Boogeyman. Ignore that his ring attire once consisted of suspenders hanging over his pant-legs. The real birth of Miz’s career came after he and John Morrison became the fish-out-of-water tag team champions in later 2007. From there, it was onto WWE.com, where the two men would host “The Dirt Sheet”, a four minute webisodic saga of two men elaborately trashing their competition and showering in their own self-praise.
Taking nothing away from Morrison, who is a brilliant athlete in anyone’s book, I have to say that it was The Miz who shined the most here. His manner of speaking is harken to the performers of the 1980’s. Already a naturally fun-loving goofball who had a childhood love of the sport (being an eighties kid himself), Miz grew up watching the likes of Rowdy Roddy Piper, Macho Man Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair stand in front of production screens and bellow these crazed monologues about what they were going do to their opponent at an upcoming live event. To watch Miz talk, with this focus that he developed over time, is to see someone who would fit right in with the Rock n Wrestling connection, challenging Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Title at Maple Leaf Gardens, ‘this Friday night!’.
But of course, you can’t just talk your way to the main event. You have to be able to provide some semblance of skill in the ring, unless you can get by on size alone. Being that Miz is about the size John Cena, he’s going to need to work on the mechanics. So, teaming with Morrison, he worked tag team matches for over a year, against veteran hands like CM Punk, Tommy Dreamer, Kane, Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio, Carlito, Finlay, among many others. Just look at the diversity amongst that list. Technicians, brawlers, high flyers, wise veterans, et al. That’s quite a year-long tour to have when you’re sanding the edges off of your game. Granted, Miz didn’t turn into Ricky Steamboat in that time frame, but who cares? He now had the ability to not only carry a feud with his speaking skills, but could also hold his own against a variety of opponents.
So when the Dirt Sheet Duo split last spring, and Miz became a Raw talent exclusively, it was now time to see if he could swim on his own.
So they stick him with John Cena.
To take The Miz and put him in a singles feud with the company’s golden goose is a testament to the faith they had in his abilities. Miz had to carry the feud too, calling out a non-attending Cena week after week, slow building their way to a pay per view showdown, letting Miz star in these segments alone. WWE must have liked what they saw because, despite losing handily to Cena twice, Miz was repackaged with new ring attire, eventually a new song, and a solid reign as United States Champion.
So let’s recap.
January 2010 – on the cusp of stardom as a reliable talent, capable of working with anyone
June 2006 – annoying twit who is obnoxious beyond any reason
We’re all guilty of not letting things play out. Wrestling fans are generally threatened by change, especially if it’s change that comes as a surprise to them. We seem to love John Morrison in 2010, even though in 2005 he was a dull-as-dishwater heel with no personality. We called MVP a glorified criminal nobody in 2006, but now he’s a popular star who performs exceptionally. I also recall that we all wanted Edge to be slain for taking from Matt Hardy’s cookie jar in 2005, but a year later, we were elated to see him knock off Cena as champion, thanks to a gimmick change.
Basically, wrestling fans can be bought off. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re condemning the current product, look at the DVDs you just purchased of classic wrestling. Doesn’t that money go into Vince’s pocket? Remember in 2005 when the consensus was that WWE was getting worse? Everyone shut up for those three glorious hours known as “ECW One Night Stand”. And the condemnation that permeated through 2009 came to a screeching halt when it was learned that Bret Hart was on his way back. Whatever frustration we have for what’s presented to us reaches a detente period if Vinnie Mac spends five minutes catering to our inner child.
I look at it like this: if you can just ignore the things that you don’t like, and you search for the positives in the programming that will bring you back, whether it’s a great feud or interesting new character, let it be known that that’s why you’re watching. The stuff you don’t like, well, guess what? When you ignore it, the WWE administration will either scrap it altogether, or they’ll try and salvage it with necessary twists. Believe it or not, their goal is to win your loyalty, viewership, and money. They can only win all three if they give you a reason to invest.
If Vince McMahon had taken a survey in 2006 of who the fans wanted to stay and who they wanted to go, then The Miz would be hosting Jersey Shore on MTV as we speak. But he stayed in WWE. Through his hard work, ability to learn, natural charisma, and flair for the dramatic, he has bettered himself in ways that no wrestling fan could have ever bet on. I can safely say that I’m a fan of The Miz, though I wasn’t at first. And it’s for the reasons outlined here.
So before you give it to another newbie with both barrels on some wrestling forum, consider this: they could be just months or so away from shedding their dull exterior and becoming a fascinating star that you’d be excited to see perform.
You will find no greater example of this than The Miz.
When he isn’t watching WWE, TNA, or his beloved Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies, Justin Henry can be found writing. It is his passion as well as his goal in life to become a well-regarded (as well as well-paid) columnist or author. Subscribe to The Cynical Examination, his wrestling blog, at http://www.facebook.com.
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