Nobody Beats the Miz
By the ripe age of 30, most dudes aspire to have set up shop in the much-desired corner office, or at least rock a job title comprised of multiple words. Not Michael Gregory Mizanin. Rather than spend the fourth decade of existence buttoned and tied to a desk, the Ohio native very much lives the life of a rowdy six-year-old on summer vacation; prancing around in underwear, declaring his general awesomeness and, of course, wrestling. Maybe that’s why the fans hate him so much. “I think I’m a good guy,” he exclaims. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me. But little kids and WWE fans hate me because I beat up their heroes.” No, Mizanin is not some unmotivated schlub living in his parents’ basement. He is, in his own words, “a two-time WWE United States champion, a four-time tag-team champion, two-time Slammy Award winner, Mr. Money in the Bank, former WWE champion and a man who fought in WrestleMania XXVII and actually won, defending my title.” More to the point, Mizanin is the Miz.
Starting life as a character on MTV’s The Real World: Return to New York, the Miz — an aggressive, egocentric version of Mizanin’s normally docile demeanor — wasn’t about to fade into obscurity after one season of programming. The Miz had his eyes set on bigger things, and his housemates knew it. “When the show was over, they all gave me a WWE action figure of the Rock,” explains Miz. “It was then that I decided I was really going to do it. I was going to wrestle. After all, 40,000 people try out for The Real World each year, and I made it. After something like that, what is there that I can’t do?”
After enrolling in a wrestling school he found online, Mizanin continued to work the reality circuit, keeping the Miz’s name alive, until finally landing a spot on WWE’s televised Tough Enough. Though losing the coveted $1 million prize and WWE contract — possibly due to the show’s viewer-voting system — the organization saw like among the dislike, and after some careful cultivation, a new star and World Wrestling champion was born.
Now living on top of the world, the 30-year-young Mizanin attributes much of his success to two things: an undying need to prove the naysayers wrong, and a supportive home network. “People told me I was crazy for wanting to do this, that I was too small,” he says, somewhat bragging. “But before each fight, my mom calls to tell me, ‘You’re awesome.’ My dad still thinks the best thing I’ve ever done in life is get into a verbal altercation with Pee-wee Herman, but his advice and criticisms keeps me grounded.”
Having accomplished almost every American boy’s dream at less than half the age to retirement, the Miz’s aspirations remain rooted in the WWE. “Of course if the right movie comes along, I might consider it,” he explains. “But what I really want to do is fight the Rock. And win.” Go ahead and call him a jabroni. He’s heard much worse.
(This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of ANTENNA.)