The Miz begins every episode of Miz TV by calling his segment “the most must-see talk show in WWE history.”
That includes the requisite hyperbole, but he has used his television time to fuel a rebirth in his career over the last year-plus that has made him the best heel currently in WWE.
After generations of segments such as Piper’s Pit, the Snake Pit, the Barber Shop, Flower Shop, Brother Love and more, Miz TV is largely the last of a bygone genre. (Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel now being manned by Kevin Owens also remains.)
And Miz TV happens with relative simplicity – a black carpet in the ring with director’s chairs and a set of microphones – and note the detail of the WWE logo on The Miz’s microphone flag being turned upside down to make an M instead of a W.
When The Miz tells a jeering crowd, “When my hand goes up, your mouth goes shut,” the boos get louder. The line is perfect. It sounds like the most frustrated third grade teacher ever trying to get the students’ attention.
Started in 2012, Miz TV has had nearly 60 episodes. As The Miz has evolved, so has Miz TV.
“It’s my own little sanctuary where I can literally do whatever I want,” The Miz told For The Win recently. “If you’re a guest on the show I can highlight you or I can highlight you in a backhanded way if I want. That’s the creative that I enjoy doing.”
If you think this gives Miz TV too much credit, consider the last few months:
- The most captivating angle leading into WrestleMania involved The Miz and wife Maryse against John Cena and then-girlfriend Nikki Bella. Many of the highly personal insults in the run-up came on Miz TV.
- When Finn Balor wanted to stake his claim to the Universal championship at the Backlash pay-per-view last month, it happened on Miz TV.
- Monday’s last RAW before Sunday’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view began with Miz TV. Extreme Rules airs at 8 p.m. ET on WWE Network (kickoff show at 7 p.m.).
On his segment, Balor noted, “This episode will end like every episode of Miz TV with you getting your ass kicked.” After Balor said he would walk away, the two got physically involved and eventually Balor struck down The Miz.
“The first idea for Miz TV that came along in like 2011 and my idea was, I want to be on this thing and make fun of people and beat people up,” The Miz said. “All of a sudden, we did the show and I ended up getting beat up and made fun of. I was like, How does this happen?
“It’s changed over time where I have become an antagonist. I would push people’s buttons and see where I could get them for the most interaction. But we’ve also been able to use it as a showcase for (Miz and Maryse) and tell our story and get that across. That’s’ what I want to use it for.”
The Miz – who might have been the MVP of SmackDown Live in 2016 with due respect to A.J. Styles before The Miz’ recent move to RAW – has matched his edgier verbal jousting with a more villainous and cunning set of moves in the ring.
The Miz faces Intercontinental champion Dean Ambrose on Sunday in a match where Ambrose can lose the title if he is disqualified. That was put in motion by The Miz leaving the commentary desk and attacking Ambrose’s opponent two weeks ago on RAW, leading to a disqualification victory for the opponent.
The Miz, a former WWE champion, has had six Intercontinental title reigns and held the title twice in 2016 for a combined 237 days and helped put the focus back on the championships. The first of those runs began the night after WrestleMania 32 when his wife Maryse returned to WWE and helped him beat Zack Ryder. Maryse is a former two-time Divas champion.
“My arrival was pretty grandiose,” Maryse notes. “I came back and it was pretty much a big entrance.”
The self-proclaimed “It Couple” have worked together since in similar fashion, much to their delight and the dismay of the fans.
The Miz made his main roster debut in 2006 and has been with WWE since he appeared on “Tough Enough” in 2004 following his star turn on “The Real World.”
“Any person in WWE, you always have to evolve, especially if you’ve been here as long as I have,” he said. “If you’re the same character, it becomes bland and generic.
“I had become this arrogant and egotistical character, but ever since my wife has come back into WWE, I feel like my career has soared. It’s given me a new type of confidence. Whenever you wrestle in Speedos in front of your wife, you want to show off. You don’t want to get your butt kicked in front of your wife. And she helps out where she can. It’s great having her around. She’s a huge part of why I’ve had the success I’ve had.”
Sitting nearby, Maryse chuckles at the Speedo line, before being asked how she reacts to hearing what her husband had said.
“That makes me feel great,” she said. “Not only are we a married couple, but we work together. We complement each other very well. We help each on so many levels.
“He’s my best friend and I get to travel with my best friend and hang out and go everywhere around the world. It’s been our turn to have a blast. It’s been phenomenal.”
MEET ‘THE EXOTIC GODDESS’
Ring of Honor was hoping to capitalize on the surge in women’s wrestling when it brought back Women of Honor in July 2015. Women of Honor Wednesdays have been a regular component of the ROH social media platforms with full matches.
Mandy Leon, a product of the ROH Dojo, said she started training with the goal of leading the rebirth. She was in the first match WOH match of the new era and has become the brand’s biggest advocate. Her feud with Taaler Hendrix was among the most physical anywhere with Women of Honor’s first no disqualification match — tables, chairs and a chain came into play. The no-DQ match has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube.
Leon, 25, talked to For The Win recently about Women of Honor, her goals, being a Rosebud in WWE and her colorful nickname.
Q: You have described Women of Honor as “my baby” and are among the founding mothers of the return of women to Ring of Honor. How did that come about?
A: When I first started training, there wasn’t a women’s division. We had a few matches now and again as dark matches, but there wasn’t a roster. I was so new and had no right to say any of this on the first day of class, but I said, ‘I want to be the girl that brings back women’s wrestling in Ring of Honor. I want to help create a division and one day have a historic Women of Honor championships belt.’ Of course, everyone looked at me like, ‘This is your first day here; you have no experience; what are you talking about?
One day I asked if I could have a match with Deonna Purrazzo before a show in Baltimore and they said yes. … It wasn’t supposed to be anything but a dark match. The company was doing YouTube exclusive matches. For whatever reason, that didn’t work out and they decided to throw the women’s match on YouTube instead and see what happens. Overnight, it was a huge thing that went viral. We then had more matches and more matches.
That created the rebirth of Women of Honor brand. You have the women’s revolution in WWE. We were also creating our own revolution that not a lot of people knew about. To see where it is today is absolutely crazy. It’ just monumental in my eyes and means a lot to me. I never thought I would be where I am. All it takes is asking for an opportunity and you do it to your fullest and have people who believe in you.
Q: two big things to make a division would seem to be more consistent TV time and a championship. How close do you think Women of Honor is to those goals?
A: We’ve had a VOD event and two exclusive Women of Honor episodes on the Ring of Honor TV show. I think we’re not separate anymore; we’re equal to the main show. … Hopefully at some point this year we can place a Women of Honor match on every episode and pay-per-views. It’s been two years where we’ve developed our characters and people know us. We have these stories that we can now say, ‘Let’s put this on TV, maybe we have a tournament, maybe we can crown the first champion.’ I think we’re almost there. We’re so close.
Q: Because WWE is such a big company, how does its focus on the women’s division help women’s wrestling in ROH?
A: A lot of people have this misconception that we’re in competition, but that’s not the case. There is literally zero competition. It’s just two entities that are at the top in professional wrestling. We’re doing our own thing and they’re doing their own thing. I do think it’s a beautiful thing that the attention they brought to their women’s division, the amount of opportunities and all those women that they’re using for the physical aspect of the division have come from the indies so it does bring focus back here and it does help. People want to see it here and how we do it.
Q: You spent some time as a “Rosebud” in WWE with the Adam Rose character. How was that experience and was there an opportunity to potentially sign with WWE?
A: It was fun. I was brand new in the business and had not that much experience at all so it was an opportunity to network and get the experience. Everybody there is very nice and treats you like family.
I was there just as an extra and we did have dark matches before every taping. Through that, I earned a tryout in Orlando and that went phenomenal. A few months later, everything was transitioning where the focus was on the more athletic side of things and creating a strong women’s division. Once that came about, for me, I didn’t want to go there yet. My goal wasn’t just to get an opportunity because of the way I look. I wanted an opportunity because I made a name for myself and I worked in Ring of Honor and made history in the indies and made an impact. Then I want to go there. I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished what I’ve wanted to accomplish yet. I do want to go there someday, but right now I’m happy here. Ring of Honor will always be my home.
Q: How did you become “The Exotic Goddess”?
A: I was working an independent show in Maryland and my friend and colleague Larry Legend was announcing the matches and introductions that night. He asked me how I would like to be introduced to the ring. It was only my second match at that time so I wasn’t sure how to describe myself. I’ve always been obsessed and fascinated with ancient Egypt. So we came up with “The Exotic Goddess” just joking around. Once he announced me like that, it was something that stuck and people loved it. I look at it as Mandy Leon “The Exotic Goddess” is a mysterious, enchanting, witchy gypsy that is not only beautiful but fierce and powerful.
WOMEN’S MONEY IN THE BANK
- WWE has announced the first women’s Money in the Bank ladder match for June 18. Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Tamina and Carmella will vie for the briefcase that includes a SmackDown women’s championship contract that can be cashed in at any time in the next year. With all her challengers in the match, current champion Naomi does not have a match for the pay-per-view. Lana, who is set to debut a new character that has been seen in promos on SmackDown and at live events in NXT, has asked to be included in the match via Twitter.