Since bursting on the scene during Season 10 of MTV’s THE REAL WORLD, demonstrating his alter ego and a passion for professional wrestling, Mike “The Miz” Mizanin has been a jack of all trades in trying to achieve his dream of becoming a WWE Superstar. Starting out as a reality TV star before getting to compete in-ring after finishing as runner-up on the fourth season of TOUGH ENOUGH, The Miz has done a bit of everything throughout his stretch in the WWE. Hosting SMACKDOWN or his own talk segment MIZ TV, The Miz was able to establish himself as a legitimate star in the company as he teamed up with John Morrison to create an edgy duo that held gold on two different occasions. That would only be The Miz’s first taste of being champion though, as he would continue rising up the card, capturing the United States Championship along the way, in addition to the Intercontinental Championship and most importantly the WWE Championship, becoming the 25th Triple Crown Champion in the company’s history. He’s won Money in the Bank. He’s headlined WrestleMania (defending the WWE Championship successfully against John Cena at XXVII), and he’s also managed to star in his own feature films, toplining WWE Studios’ THE MARINE 3: HOMEFRONT and now CHRISTMAS BOUNTY, which premieres on ABC Family on November 26.
Having started off as a fan, it’s always refreshing to see someone make good on their own dream, and The Miz has come a long way since being that guy on THE REAL WORLD. So I was more than willing to hop on the phone for a chat with The Miz, coming off a tiring travel tour overseas, to talk about his new film but also some of his perspective as a WWE Superstar who has been atop the card not too long ago. And while it’s easy for some of these ladies and gentlemen to get frustrated by their place on the show, it was interesting for me to hear The Miz’s approach to the opportunities he’s been given since walking away from WrestleMania with the main strap. We get into some of his WWE history along the way, but it is The Miz’s positivity that has stayed with me since we finished our conversation. Enjoy.
Billy Donnelly – What’s going on, man?
The Miz – Not much, man! Just hanging out in Nashville Tennessee, getting ready for RAW Goes Country. It’s gonna be pretty intense. We just got back from a European tour, and that was pretty incredible, being over in Europe for two weeks. Non-stop shows every day, all day. A different country every day. I’m definitely a busy person.
The Kidd - I wanted to ask you about CHRISTMAS BOUNTY first. This is the second film you’ve done for WWE Studios with THE MARINE 3 being the first. Is it easier this time around making the transition from ring to set for your performance? Or is it still kind of a bit of an adjustment to make the switch every time?
The Miz – I thought it was… Not easy, I would say, but I think it was a pretty good adjustment to make with THE MARINE 3: HOMEFRONT. With WWE, we’re always doing that kind of theatre, if you will. We always have a live audience in front of us and we only get one take. The benefit of doing a movie is that you have 15 takes if you want it. I don’t need it, but if you want it, you can have it! So it’s one of those things where you really just enjoy being there, and enjoying the time off, and relaxing your body, because let’s face it, we’re on the road, all day, every day. 250 days a year, we’re doing shows. It takes a toll on your body. But when you get that one month off to do a movie? It’s like… “Ahhh… my body is finally recuperating. Amazing.” Doing CHRISTMAS BOUNTY and going up to Vancouver again… Obviously, I think every time you do something more and more, you get used to it and you get more comfortable. That’s kind of the way I felt with CHRISTMAS BOUNTY. Plus the cast was absolutely incredible. The people that WWE Studios surrounds me with really ups the ante for me, and it kinda makes me challenge myself to be better and to do better. I’m hoping that everyone out there will really enjoy to see the hard work and dedication that the entire cast put in to this movie.
The Kidd - When you’re taking time off… You’re talking about doing a European Tour, which I’m sure is exhausting, travel-wise, and then you’re doing all these shows, you do get to rest your body, but is there also a danger to stepping outside the ring to shoot a film and kind of cutting off any sort of traction you might have in-ring with the WWE Universe and your character?
The Miz – Yeah, it’s one of those things… Like if you’re in this huge feud and you need to go shoot a movie, you need to figure out a way to make it all work. That’s what WWE is really good at. When they have a person that has to go do a movie that has to go do a commercial or TV show or something, they’re really good at making sure that everyone has everything that they need to succeed no matter what. Whenever they come back they always have a good storyline for me and whenever I have to leave they have something good for me, so it works out well.
The Kidd – I remember when you were first rising up and you were still seen as the guy from THE REAL WORLD, and the guy from TOUGH ENOUGH and building that way. How key was the Miz/Morrison tag team era of your career to legitimizing yourself as a performer and really elevating yourself as a heel on the card?
The Miz – If Miz and Morrison never happened, I truly believe that I would have been fired within a year. I think being with Morrison really gave me the opportunity to take risks. It gave me the opportunity to really stand tall in our realm. When we created a thing called The Dirt Sheet, which… Back then, YouTube was just getting going with its popularity. WWE now has its own YouTube channel. It didn’t have its own YouTube Channel. It didn’t have those internet shows. We were the first. So we kind of became originals and we were doing those sorts of things that were going against the grain because we wanted to get noticed. I think Morrison pushed me and I pushed Morrison to really do the best that we possibly can. We brought the best out of each other, is what I thought.
The Kidd – I want to ask you a little bit about your work with Daniel Bryan. You were really his first thing coming out of NXT, and having seen him in Indies and Ring Of Honor before that, you kind of knew his talent level. But did you see him making the transition to take what it took to get over with the WWE Universe, which is kind of a struggle that you had faced previously.
The Miz – I knew that Daniel Bryan was going to have a struggle, because he doesn’t really have that size that WWE normally looks for. I mean even me: I’m 6’1 and 220 pounds and I had to struggle and fight and claw because I wasn’t the stereotypical 6’6″ and 250 pounds of pure solid ripped muscle. That’s basically the quintessential star in the WWE now. Daniel Bryan had an uphill battle, but he definitely went strong and he dedicated himself, and this guy is now the most anticipated person whenever we come to a show. He’s the person that people want to see. You’ll see them chanting “Yes,” and you’ll see them chanting “No.” It’s kind of insane how great he’s become, and it’s all after his hard work.
The Kidd – Is there a perception problem with what isn’t a Main Eventer in the WWE and I guess what the company sees as who they want to front their shows and what the fans want? Because we’ve seen it previously, whether it was you or Ziggler or Punk or Bryan, there are guys that seem to do their own thing, and I think that’s why the fans gravitate towards them. How real is that struggle to get yourself noticed and then to transfer that into something tangible where you’re now atop the card and you’re noticed?
The Miz – Yeah, that’s exactly right. That’s exactly what you have to do. You have to work hard, dedicate yourself, and don’t let people tell you that you can’t do it. Because that’s exactly what people are going to do. It’s your job to go against the grain. It’s your job to fight and claw and scratch to that top, and if people are telling you know, it’s your job to say yes. That’s why I always have these shirts that say “Haters Love Me,” and “Haters Want It,” because you’re going to get hated on by everyone and everything. Whether it’s backstage, in the WWE Universe, or even the corporate. It’s your job to rise above it and figure out a way to make yourself noticed. And that’s exactly what people like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk have done. They’ve gotten noticed and that’s why they’re at the top of their game right now.
The Kidd – Obviously we’re coming up on WrestleMania 30 next year. I give you all the credit in the world because you’re one of the people that have done something that very few people have done at Wrestlemania, which is to headline WrestleMania as a heel and walk out with the belt. Which is a very rare occurrence that time of year. Is there any bit of frustration in having headlined WrestleMania and trying to fight your way up the card again to that elevated level, to where you are now?
The Miz – Yeah, I mean, I look at two years ago… And I still do this time after time… I’ll look at that match and I’ll think, “Man, two years ago I was at the top of the card. I was at the top of my game.” Now I look at it and I’m struggling to get a storyline on RAW and I’m struggling in this way and that way. That’s exactly what WWE is. You’ll see superstars go up and down and up and down. It’s a rollercoaster ride. It’s very hard to do what people like John Cena have done where they stay on top for year and after year after year. It’s one of those things where you go down and you go up. I’m still waiting for my opportunity. It’s not even waiting, it’s more like I’m still striving each and every day to get back to that top level, to that top tier, where fans view me as a Main Event. And not only fans, but the locker room views me as that top tier talent. It slips away very quickly, and you have to be able to adjust and to dedicate yourself, and that’s what I’ve been doing. Trying to just adjust and to do what I have to do to get back to where I was three years ago. But let’s face it, Billy, I’ve gotten to film two movies in the past two years. I’ve done Intercontinental. I’ve done United States. I’ve done Tag Team. It’s not like I’ve been down. But it’s one of those things where I’ve been given new opportunities and I’ve taken them and I’ve hit them out of the park.
The Kidd – Thank you, Miz.
The Miz – Thanks, Man. Have a good day.
The Kidd – You, too.
Famously fired via Facebook, Billy Donnelly ("The Infamous Billy The Kidd") has insisted on staying true to his honest opinions (like Greedo shooting first being BS) in order to build a true geek community that serves its readership with credible commentary.
Sep 18, 2014 0