Mike “The Miz” Mizanin has successfully made the transition from reality television star to an integral member of the WWE roster. The former Real World cast member is currently delivering some of the most compelling work of his career, which has spanned the past 14 years in WWE.
His new reality television show, Miz & Mrs., premieres later this year on the USA Network, and he also plans on making 2018 a memorable year by reclaiming the WWE Championship for the first time in six years.
The Miz was part of an event this past week at Newark’s Speedway Academies, celebrating the school’s fourth year fundraising for Red Nose Day with a Red Nose Day Rally focused on ending childhood poverty. After the event, he spoke with Sports Illustrated about the Red Nose Day event, his pursuit of the WWE championship, and ongoing issues with Daniel Bryan.
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Justin Barrasso:The idea behind Red Nose Day is having fun while making a difference, and your event in New Jersey was centered around ending child poverty. How was your day at Speedway Academies? Did the students recognize you?
Miz: Do you know how big of a star I am? Do you have any idea? Did anyone recognize me or know who I am? Of course, they knew exactly who I was.
We did a dance-off. I know people think Carmella is the moonwalking, trash-talking queen of Staten Island, but the fact is everyone would agree that I out-danced Carmella. I showcased my lord of the dance and gave them a river dance. They said, ‘Moonwalk? That was cool in the 80’s,’ so I showcased all the new stuff.
And to be on a serious note, the event was absolutely incredible. It wasn’t just the fact that all the kids came together for Red Nose Day, but they wanted to learn. And not only did they want to learn, but I was taught so much from so many of the projects that the kids did. They were talking about clean water, which is what we take for granted. Not every place has clean water, and they discussed the effects it has on environments. One dollar can feed ten children in the United States, and that alone is absolutely incredible. To see all these kids come together with dance-offs and having fun and learning, it was just a fun day for everyone.
JB:You combined with Seth Rollins to deliver a compelling opening match at Backlash for the Intercontinental title, but you quickly shifted your focus on the Network post-show to the Money in the Bank ladder match and another run with the WWE Championship. You were champion once prior, but is it accurate to say that the current version of The Miz is far more mature, prepared, and ready to dethrone AJ Styles and be WWE champ than you were the last time you wore the belt in 2011?
Miz: Not only is it a fair assessment, it’s absolutely correct. Back when I was champion before, it wasn’t that I wasn’t ready for the title. Back then, I thought, ‘I’m the champion and I should be the champion, there’s no doubt in my mind.’ Now I know this is my time. This is my time to shine and be the face, that’s exactly what I am going to do on SmackDown Live.
With the Intercontinental championship, my sole goal was to make it relevant, prestigious, and honorable like it was when I was a kid. I succeeded in that goal. I lost that title to Seth Rollins. As much as I can be bitter or angry or mad about that, when you look at Seth Rollins as a talent, there is arguably no one better in that WWE ring. He is a master in that ring and he showcased it all at Backlash. We gave it all out there, and he came out on top. Since he’s had the title, he’s done exactly what he said he would: be a fighting champion. He’s a workhorse, and he absolutely deserves the Intercontinental championship.
My goal is to make the WWE championship as relevant and prestigious as it should be. Now do I think AJ Styles is doing a terrific job as WWE champion? Absolutely. But that WWE Championship should be in the main event of every pay per view, and it upsets me when I see that it’s not. My goal is to not only win the Money in the Bank contract, cash it in, and become WWE champion. I want to put that title back where it belongs: the main event. Like I always say, the man makes the title, the title doesn’t make the man. I will make the WWE Championship the most prestigious and honorable title in all the WWE just like I did the Intercontinental championship.
JB: The Miz is so intertwined with Daniel Bryan. Do you think a title match between the two of you could headline SummerSlam or even WrestleMania?
Miz: You think Daniel Bryan is ready for a title match? You saw him against Big Cass. Is he ready for a title match? A WWE championship match?
JB: Thankfully, I don’t book the shows. But I am curious if you and Bryan ever shared a friendship or mutual admiration.
Miz: On Talking Smack, I told Daniel Bryan exactly the way I felt and he’s the one who basically came at me. Everyone looks at me as the bad guy, but who’s the bad guy there? Daniel Bryan said my work is soft, that my work is cowardly. He said my work isn’t as good, that I’m not a good in-ring technician. I’m good for some things? Maybe on the microphone? Maybe I can be a manager or a commentator? But what I heard was that I was not good enough in the ring. And this was coming from a guy who was injured and couldn’t come back from that injury.
Daniel Bryan could have quit and went and did all his indies and did all the bingo hall things, but he wanted to fight for his dreams. But that day, he didn’t fight for his dreams. He walked away like the coward he was calling me. Now you fast forward and everybody wants to see Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz, but the fact is Daniel Bryan isn’t at the caliber I am at. I am sick of people sitting there saying, ‘Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz.’ He doesn’t deserve to be in the ring with me. He’s not at the level that I am.
I am showcasing top-level talent, and maybe in a year or maybe in two years, he’ll be at that level. But right now, he’s not at that level. He’s just going on the fame he had four years ago. Things changed. So when Daniel Bryan is ready, and I feel that he is ready, that’s when the match will happen. Until then, he’s not ready for me.
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.