Justin Barrasso
Monday July 25th, 2016

Unbeknownst to the general public, the WWE has a legitimate underdog story—one not that different from Daniel Bryan’s—in Mike “The Miz” Mizanin.

“Daniel Bryan’s underdog story was able to be told on TV,” The Miz said. “Mine was never told on TV. My story was that I was egotistical, arrogant, and an absolute jerk to everyone who brags about everything—and I will—but I’ve been very fortunate to take everything and learn from it. I’ve learned from all my mistakes, worked hard, and sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears to get to where I am today. My underdog story really hasn’t been told.”

The Miz was once thrown out of the WWE locker room and forced to make his own makeshift dressing room in backstage bathrooms away from the WWE talent for six months, yet he is now one of the company’s longest-tenured full-time performers.

“Ten years later, I’m still here in a WWE ring,” he said. “You need to be a shark in this business, or you’re going to be eaten up, swallowed, and spit out. I’ve been one of those people who’ve been eaten up, but I stuck with it, survived, and I’m still here today. I remember the first time I stepped into a WWE ring, and I got critiqued and I was told I’d be gone in three months. Here I sit ten years later, and I’m the Intercontinental champion.”

Has WWE mishandled Bray Wyatt?

Drafted by Smackdown—fittingly by former rival and current Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan—The Miz brings his Intercontinental championship to the USA Network every Tuesday night.

“It’s hard to keep these titles, especially nowadays,” admitted The Miz, who is a five-time IC champion. “Some people have them for one day—ask Zack Ryder—but others have them for longer, and I want to have this title mean something. I want to bring relevance to it and bring entertainment, and make the audience want to see what’s going to happen next. That’s the superstar I always wanted to be – and hopefully I can make some really engaging stories with it.”

Miz admitted that the competitive nature of Raw vs. Smackdown will bring out intense rivalry from the two separate locker rooms.

“We’re competitive about everything,” said The Miz. “The superstars that aren’t high draft picks, I’m sure they’re going to be angry and mad and upset about it. That hurts your ego, and we have big egos as WWE superstars.

“We perform in front of thousands, and millions at home, and you don’t want to look stupid or like Mr. Irrelevant. You want to be the guy who hoists the company on his back and carries them. Especially now that there is going to be a huge rivalry between Raw and Smackdown Live, we want to have the highest ratings, the highest merch sales, the most people watching the show live, and that’s what we want and aim for.”

Based off his accomplishments over the past decade, The Miz thinks he should have been the first name off the board at the brand-split draft.

“I don’t know why I [wasn’t] the number one pick,” he said. “I have all the accolades, all the experience, all the knowledge you could possibly want from a WWE number one draft pick.”

• ​​​Quiz: Can you match these WWE stars to their college football team?

As one of only 46 men to ever wear the WWE world heavyweight championship, The Miz prides himself on bringing a world champion mentality to the Intercontinental title.

“I’m a fourteen-time champion and a five-time WWE Studios movie star,” said The Miz, who just finished filming The Marine 5: Battleground. “I’ve done a lot of things in WWE, as well as have my own talk show. I have a lot of things that a commissioner, like Shane McMahon, looks for in a talent. I’m here – full-time – all the time. I don’t ask for days off, I do all the media, and I do everything I possibly can to make the Intercontinental Championship as relevant as possible.”

The Miz retained the Intercontinental title against Darren Young on Sunday night at Battleground, extending his reign as champion to 112 days.

“The Intercontinental championship has such rich history,” explained The Miz. “My favorite superstars growing up—Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart, Shawn Michaels, ‘Mr. Perfect’ Curt Hennig, Ultimate Warrior—all held the prestigious Intercontinental championship. It’s known as the championship for the workhorse of the company, and that’s probably why I have it – because I am the workhorse of the WWE.”

Roman Reigns returns after suspension, set for Battleground

Young and Miz have quickly developed an on-screen chemistry, particularly with the unpredictable Bob Backlund in Young’s corner.

“When you have the Intercontinental championship, and someone is coming to take it from you—and you feel like they could actually threaten your title—that is a huge, real moment,” explained The Miz. “Darren Young is definitely someone to be reckoned with, and I could lose the Intercontinental championship to him, but I’m not planning on it. I don’t plan to lose, I plan to win. People are like, ‘What if you lose?’ I’m not looking at losing. I am a winner, and I always look to win.”

There are very few people in WWE history more unpredictable than Backlund, who is training Young to defeat The Miz.

“I actually started reading Bob’s book,” said The Miz. “I want to find out more information about what he could be teaching Darren. The fact is, Bob is a two-time WWE champion. He had the title for six years, which is unheard of. He’s teaching Darren Young, who is one of those superstars that has all the athletic ability and is now gaining the knowledge, but the one thing he lacks is the experience I have and Bob has. Bob can’t teach experience – you just have to go through the wars and the battles in the WWE ring, and that’s my advantage.”

Randy Orton returns, takes dig at Brock Lesnar for failed doping test

The beautiful Maryse, who is The Miz’s real life spouse, adds another dimension to his character.

“I love having my wife with me,” said The Miz. “It’s one thing to be able to talk to your wife on FaceTime or over the phone, but touching her, hugging her, and holding her is a whole other feeling.

“When you’re able to have your wife in your corner, you kind of want to show off for her. You don’t want to lose. I never want her to say, ‘Sorry babe,’ I want her to say, ‘That’s my man.’ You want your wife to be married to a winner, not a loser.”

Genuinely in love with the business, the former reality television star who cut wrestling promos on MTV’s The Real World in 2001, insisted on bringing the Intercontinental Championship with him on set while filming The Marine, as well as showed off his gold at the ESPYs.

 ​Quiz: Can you identify these WWE stars by their real name?

“There are so many people who helped me out, even the people that gave me a hard time,” said The Miz. “That made me want to prove that I could be a superstar. The fans also couldn’t stand me when I first started out, and they still can’t stand me – and I’m still trying to prove myself each and every day, trying to get better, to make sure I give them the best entertainment they can possibly get.

“Whenever I have a segment on television, I try to make it the best segment possible. I’m never the type of person who’s not going to give one-hundred percent out there – I’m always going to give you everything I have. Sometimes they fall flat, and other times it’s the greatest thing you’ve ever seen. I also try to go for the greatest thing you’ve ever seen, but sometimes you fail. I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded in my life, but I’ve learned from all those failures.”

The Miz is planning on leading the way for Smackdown, beginning Tuesday night.

“I feel sorry [for Raw] for not drafting me,” said The Miz. “I’m a ratings spike, and that’s a known fact. Look at when I was WWE world heavyweight champion – look at the ratings and you’ll see they were the highest they’d been in fifteen years. That’s what I do. Even though people hate on me and can’t stand me, they want to see what I do next.”

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.