McGinnis: WWE brings The Miz to ToledoWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Is this interview with Mike Mizanin, or his character “The Miz?”
The answer is a little of both. In the course of a conversation with the World Wrestling Entertainment star, two facets of a personality emerge. One is a kid who came from Parma, Ohio, who wanted to be a pro wrestler and is living his dream every day. The other is a brash, upstart individual who says what he thinks and treats every event on the show as 100 percent real.
It can be a little difficult to try and separate the two. You ask what it’s like to work with a legendary figure like Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and Mike Mizanin tells you it’s a dream come true. Then the Miz adds, “it’s even more of a dream to beat him up.”
There is no doubt it will be the Miz’s personality on display May 24, when WWE brings its flagship television show, “Raw,” to Huntington Center. But for Mike Mizanin, the path to the bright lights of WWE’s big show was taken on a road less traveled.
“I was always a fan of WWE. I grew up watching Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Iron Sheik, the Rockers, Demolition — growing up watching them, it was absolutely incredible. And you always look at those superstars, look at them like they’re larger than life, you know? And as a kid, like a 10-year-old kid growing up, you never realize that you can actually do that, you know? Do that for a living.”
His first steps toward his dream would be on a television show that had nothing to do with wrestling. In 2001, Mizanin was attending college at Miami University (ironically, his second choice was UT), and saw an ad for a casting call for MTV’s “The Real World.”
“I was like, oh my God, I’ve always wanted to be on ‘The Real World,’ I’m gonna try out.’ All my friends told me, ‘Ah, you’re not gonna make it, why try out? That’s so stupid.’ I said, I didn’t care, I’m gonna try anyway’,” he said.
Mizanin was cast on the tenth season of the show, but was not completely comfortable at first — which led to the birth of his alter ego. “I kinda was the outcast of ‘The Real World,’ and everyone kinda picked on me and just made fun of me. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and created this character called ‘The Miz’ that just said exactly what was on my mind and didn’t care about the repercussions. And if I said something that was wrong, I would just blame it on The Miz. And so I would never get in trouble.”
After the ‘Real World’ ended, Mizanin (or was it The Miz?) made a decision.
“Do I want to go back to Miami of Ohio and continue on doing the path that I was doing or do I want to do something else?’ And I decided I wanted to do something else. Well, what do I want to do? What have I always wanted to do, what was my dream? And my dream was to be a WWE superstar.”
Mizanin moved to California and enrolled in UPW’s Ultimate University, a training school, graduated the likes of fellow WWE star John Cena. He continued to appear on reality television shows, plugging The Miz character.
“Four years later, WWE called and said, ‘Would you like to be a part of ‘Tough Enough? You could win a WWE contract.’ I said, ‘Absolutely’.”
Though he didn’t win the competition, Mizanin impressed WWE staff so much, he was offered a developmental deal. After a year of training, he made his main roster debut in 2006. Mizanin said his early days with the company were not easy. Many of his fellow performers resented his seemingly easy path to stardom.
“I never considered it a free pass, but everyone in the locker room couldn’t stand me,” he said. “I’ve always been hated, just because I’m an outsider. And I kinda like being an outsider. I’d rather be an outsider than be just like everybody else.”
But as time has passed, Mizanin has seen growing acceptance among his peers and from wrestling press for his improving ring work and character. Mizanin said he thrived on their criticism. “I always thrived on people’s negativity, just like how I got on ‘The Real World’,” he said. “Those thousands of people telling me every day, booing me every time I go to that ring. I mean, those are the people that drive me, and make me better.”
And Mizanin (or, rather, The Miz) clearly hopes to give Toledoans plenty of reasons to boo him on May 24 (and in Detroit for the May 23 Over the Limit pay-per-view event) — and said fans in attendance will experience something memorable. “You are going to be in for an amazing show. It’s gonna be insane, it’s gonna be fun,” he promised.
E-mail Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.