Ten years ago, Mike Mizanin was a naive 20-year-old Ohio kid who antagonized his castmates on MTV’s “Real World: New York.”
“I was an outcast,” he recalled in a brief interview today to promote Wrestlemania XXVII at the Georgia Dome Sunday. “I was dumb and innocent. I had no idea what was going on.”
There, he created his Miz character, the one he uses to this day in the wrestling ring, which helped turn him into the WWE Champion last November. He’ll be defending his title against John Cena Sunday.
“The Miz is Mike at volume 100,” he said. “The Miz is Mike on 50 Red Bulls.”
“I’m a jerk in real life,” he continued. “I can’t help it! It’s who I am. Getting to the WWE made me realize I could do anything I want in my life. It’s funny. It’s just an interesting ride. I’m glad I’m on it.”
The Miz has an Atlanta connection: in 2005, he spent six months in McDonough training with Deep South Wrestling and Bill DeMott in kind of a minor league wrestling training camp.
DeMott, he said, “was a rough and tumble rugged trainer. He had the old-school mentality. You’re literally physically in demand all the time. You’re always tired and beat up. And when you’re in the WWE, it only gets tougher. Your body will take a toll but you have to keep going and going.”
At the time, I interviewed him for Peach Buzz. “I’m trying to make it to the big leagues, like ‘Raw’ and ‘Smackdown,’ ” he said at the time. And he succeeded.
The Miz won’t have any time to relax while in Atlanta. Besides doing media, he’s going to be at all the big events such as a charity golf outing, the Hall of Fame ceremony and two wrestling gigs – pay-per-view Wrestlemania Sunday and USA’s “Raw” Monday. “I’m the champ,” he said. “I’d rather have a plate full of things to do than nothing to do!”
How did the Miz get to this point? “I think it’s the little things that matter,” he said. “You not only have to be great in the ring but on the microphone as well. You have to do well on the pre-tapes, the interviews at the live events. You always have to show up on time. And I’m trying to dress the part. I won’t be seen in sweatpants or muscle shirts and fanny packs.”
He prefers colorful bright suits after going through several fashion shifts, including the “Affliction” style, fedoras and bandannas and long coats, then the Justin Timberlake look.
The Miz is looking forward to facing off against Cena. “He’s been the poster child of WWE for five years. I want to take down the poster child.” He knows that despite the fact he’s the current champion, he’s the underdog. “I think everyone always under-estimates me… everything happens for a reason.” (Okay, I know, I know. This is all scripted. But obviously, he has endeared himself to Vince McMahon and Co. Good for him!)
And he’s psyched to see Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is set to host Wrestlemania and may get in the ring for some action. “He’s all about shock value,” the Miz said. “It could happen. If he does, I plan to beat him.” He’s not surprised Johnson has chosen to come back despite his busy movie career: “It’s his heritage, his family. He’s coming back to his roots.”
He doesn’t think the Rock will take the limelight from him. “If the Rock can get more viewers to see me, so be it. They’ll buy tickets for the Rock and keep buying them for me.”
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi will pop up Sunday as well in the ring. “I love ‘Jersey Shore!’ ” the Miz said. “It’s my favorite show! You can’t beat that. Snooki is a sweetheart. I can’t wait to see her mash it up with the WWE Divas.” His favorite character: Pauly D. “He’s like me: loud and obnoxious!”
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By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog