“Shane McMahon is willing to put his life on the line for a moment, but I am going to do whatever it takes to win.”
The Miz has already main-evented a WrestleMania, but he is faced with an even greater challenge this Sunday in a match against Shane McMahon.
McMahon is the son of Vince McMahon, so the CEO will be watching closely as Miz looks to prove, once again, why he is one of WWE’s most versatile stars.
“It’s the biggest match of my life,” said Mike “The Miz” Minanin, whose match against McMahon is a Falls Count Anywhere affair. “Shane McMahon is willing to put his life on the line for a moment, but I am going to do whatever it takes to win.”
The 38-year-old Mizanin, who jumpstarted his career with a role on MTV’s The Reality World in 2001, has built The Miz into one of WWE’s most valuable commodities over the past dozen years.
Yet despite both opening and closing a WrestleMania, his career is missing an iconic moment from WWE’s signature event.
As the antagonist, The Miz has normally stood in the way of the hero—which happened when he lost to John Cena in a mixed tag match at WrestleMania 33. He won the WrestleMania 27 main event, but ultimately was only a pawn in a bigger storyline between Cena and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
“My failures have led to my successes,” said Mizanin, who looks to deliver a performance this Sunday that shows is capable of leading the company forward, against both new challengers (AEW) and evolving realms of entertainment. “I never lose, I always learn. From being in so many WrestleManias, I’ve learned what to do to make sure this audience invests and remembers the match I’m in. That is what I am going to do at WrestleMania 35. I am WWE’s must-see star. That’s not a catchphrase, it’s a lifestyle.”
This Sunday, Mizanin will be in the unique position of being cheered by the crowd. McMahon attacked his father, and The Miz will protect his family’s honor in what is shaping up to be one of WrestleMania’s most compelling matches.
“The crowd is starting to do something I never thought they’d do, which is cheer me,” said Mizanin. “It took 13 years for them to believe in me, and I hope I don’t disappoint. As much as The Miz is egotistical and arrogant, you’ve actually got to see the real Mike Mizanin on Miz and Mrs. and I think people have appreciated how much work I’ve put into everything I do.”
WrestleMania won’t be the only challenge on Mizanin’s plate this weekend. He is also working with the WWE 2K19 Million Dollar Challenge, coaching one of the four finalists scheduled to compete against AJ Styles for a million-dollar prize.
“I can guarantee you AJ Styles would beat me in WWE 2K19, and the reason is because that guy plays video games all day, every day,” said Mizanin. “Styles knows his stuff, so whomever I coach needs to ready.
“I plan on being the best coach, better than Ember Moon, better than Kofi and Big E, better than Paige. I’m a person that can get inside AJ Styles’ head. That is a strategic advantage.”
The last time Mizanin was a superstar coach occurred in 2010 when he was paired with Daniel Bryan as his rookie trainee in NXT, but hopes his new coaching position works out differently than the last.
“Daniel Bryan became my biggest rival in WWE,” said Mizanin. “I was his coach but he didn’t listen to me. Now look where he’s at–yes, he’s WWE champion, but he is one of the most disrespectful WWE champions of all-time. Bryan threw the WWE title in the garbage and took something his daughter made in arts and crafts and made that into the title. So I hope this time as coach turns out differently.”
Mizanin’s video game roots tie back to Nintendo, but he also honed his craft in the arcades of Ohio in the early 90s.
“I played a lot of Super Mario Bros. and Tetris, but when Mortal Kombat came out in arcades, that was a game-changer,” said Mizanin. “Video games keep evolving and getting better, which is why I love 2K19. I didn’t realize the graphics could be better or that the game play could be smoother, but I don’t understand why the game doesn’t make me bigger or more jacked.”
Mizanin’s Miz and Mrs. show was also renewed for a second season on the USA Network. Following last Tuesday’s premiere, there will be 13 more episodes starring The Miz and Maryse, who added the role of executive producers to their duties.
The connection between real-life couple Mike and Maryse Mizanin makes the show far more endearing than most reality shows, and their rapport almost makes the program feel more like a comedy.
Miz and Mrs. perfectly captures the relationship between the couple. Mizanin has had 18 years of experience to perfect his craft on television, but the show is introducing viewers to the depth of Maryse’s personality, some sharp humor from The Miz’s father, and the coming out party of Maryse’s mother, who danced around Miz’s kitchen last episode without any clothes.
“This show is a behind-the-scenes look of what actually goes on in our lives,” said Mizanin. “You can step into our life and laugh. We’re a cross between The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Modern Family. If you watch the show, you’ll have something to talk about the next day.”
Mizanin’s ascension as The Miz is one of WWE’s most fascinating stories, but the narrative is still being written—and there is potential for a riveting chapter this Sunday at WrestleMania 35.
“I’m swimming with a bunch of sharks,” said Mizanin. “If I ever show a sign of weakness, I’ll be eaten alive. So I always have to evolve and putting my best foot forward to entertain the audience. This WrestleMania, I’ll make sure I am what I say I am, and that is must-see.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.