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

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 www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net 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 www.blogtalkradio.com/thewheelhouse and at www.errorfm.com @ 2am ET/11pm PT

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

If you would like to subscribe to “The Wheelhouse” on iTunes simply subscribe for free at iTunes by typing in “Wheelhouse Radio!”

You can follow “The Champ Jeff Peck” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therealjeffpeck you can also follow Wheelhouse Radio on twitter at www.twitter.com/thewheelhouse and you can e-mail them @ [email protected].

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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