Before I start with this article, I would like to inform you all that I have started writing for The Bleacher Report, and direct you to my sportswriter page there: http://bleacherreport.com/users/455718-david-jackson My first article was on first-ballot Hall of Famers and I hope is well worth a read!
Anyway, on to this article. When I was about to write it, I thought it would be quite a lengthy affair, but on reflection, I don’t see why it has to be. The idea is really quite simple.
When Miz first became champion, and was struggling to retain against people like Jerry Lawler and was retaining against Randy Orton with lots of help from people like Alex Riley and even Cole, and under less than heroic circumstances, the immediate talk among a lot of fans was to do with how Miz’s apparent weakness as champion is a terrible thing and completely stupid booking. Now I understand that a strong champion is appealing in that it adds a ‘big fight feel’ to title defences, especially when against a viable challenger, while adding a certain awe-inspiring quality to the champion which is inspiring and exciting to see.
Nonetheless, it seems clear to me that, while strong champions can be a good thing, every champion becoming seemingly unbeatable as soon as they get the belt is not only uncreative, but, depending on the person, is also simply uninteresting.
The Miz deserves to be WWE Champion, and is certainly viable having not only won a MITB ladder match, but having wrestled excellent matches against WWE’s top stars since. Despite this though, to have the Miz suddenly booked like Cena would be completely unbelievable and unintriguing. He has proved that he is among the best, in kayfabe terms at least, on the WWE roster, without being realistically called by anybody, ‘the’ best.
For me, Miz simply represents a different kind of champion to the dominant, heroic champion. Indeed, strong champions are often restricted to face characters as heels are by convention wrestlers that have to, and want to win with minimal effort, and are therefore drawn to shortcuts, while acting with cowardice when confronted by their face antagonists. This is not only true of The Miz, it was true of Randy Orton as a heel champion, and similarly by figures like JBL and Batista when they were heels, and yet whenever a heel champion is booked in this way, the booking is criticised as if the alternative would be acceptable. Indeed, it is this character of heel champions which helps them draw heat from the crowd. Of course the audience aren’t going to appreciate what is presented as a contest being undermined by dirty tactics.
The fact that Miz seems especially weak is not just down to the booking, but is due in large part to Miz’s portrayal of his character, who is good enough to compete without being able to dominate any of his contemporaries. The interest of Miz’s reign is that the audience know, especially after his defence against Jerry Lawler, that the Miz, far from being strong, is beatable. On any given night, be it on RAW or at PPV, Miz could lose his title to any challenger if not at the top of his game. This is an entirely different feeling than when wrestlers, even heels like Orton or JBL in the past, would at least seem able to defend in any given match. What keeps Miz afloat as champion is his often quite dark and slimy techniques which he uses to out-maneuver his stronger opponents. He beats them with smarts as well as talent, as opposed to just talent.
Every time Miz defends, it is fascinating to see how he will try to beat his challenger, and that is much more ‘must see’ than just another strong champion.