Q&A with The Miz
I conducted a phone interview recently with WWE champion The Miz, who will headline the WWE Raw house show tonight at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore.
You’ve talked many times about how you were ostracized in the WWE locker room in the past and even kicked out of the locker room for six months at one point. At what point did things begin to change, and what’s it like for you in the locker room now that you’re WWE champion?
I believe that people still don’t think that I deserve to be WWE champion. The fact is I’m always going to have naysayers. You’re always going to have haters. It really doesn’t bother me because I just rise above it. I kind of use all of their negative energy to basically throw out there into the WWE Universe, and what I get back is the WWE championship. So I never really listened to what anyone else ever said. As far as the turning point, there wasn’t really a turning point. I think it’s just that I’ve been gaining and gaining more respect and earning my stripes, so that’s kind of how it’s happened.
Was there ever a point when things got so bad in the locker room that the thought of quitting crossed your mind?
Oh, I think there’s always a time in everyone’s life when they’re like, “Do I really want to go through this?” Whenever something’s really hard you always question yourself, and I had many times when I questioned myself, but I always rose above it. I’m the type of person that doesn’t quit. I just keep going and give my best effort because I don’t want to look back on my life when I’m like 80 or 90 and say, “Man, I wish I would have done this, I wish I would have done that.” I basically go out and do it.
Have any of the WWE veterans who gave you a hard time such as JBL come up to you and said, “Hey, you’ve earned your stripes,” or admitted that they were wrong about you or apologized?
It’s funny with JBL. In front of all the boys back in the day he would always be making fun of me or saying [imitating JBL’s voice], “Miz, I look forward to your amazing work. You’re a gift from God.” But whenever no one was around, he would come up to me and say, “You’re doing a good job.” He’d always give me a little pat on the back. Most people think he was really, really bad to me and this kind of stuff – and, granted, there were times – but there were also times when he sat me down and said, “Listen, you’re doing a good job. This is what you’re doing wrong. This is what you have to do to get to the next level.” So he has helped me as well.
So, since winning the title, have any veterans come up to you and said, “Hey, I have to give you credit?”
There are a lot of people who have given me credit where credit was due. It wasn’t the people who were making fun of me or the haters and that kind of stuff. It was more just positive stuff. Like Shawn Michaels, I saw him at Tribute to the Troops and he came up to me and said, “Congratulations. You’ve really worked hard for it and you’re doing a great job right now.” Jim Ross has done that as well. Most people are pretty proud of what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished, and I’m not even done. Now that I have the WWE championship, I have to work twice as hard to keep it.
I was on a conference call with you earlier this year and you talked about wanting to have that one defining moment that takes you to the next level, like when Steve Austin delivered the “Austin 3:16” speech. Have you had that defining moment? Was it cashing in Money in the Bank contract and winning the WWE title or do you think you that it’s still to come?
I think there are defining moments in everything. If you asked me a year ago, I could find a defining moment. But as of right now my defining moment was Money in the Bank. It kind of set the tone that I’m the next main-eventer, I’m the next “future of this business,” and it set the tone for me winning the WWE championship, which then became the next defining moment in my life. Not many people get to say “I’m a WWE champion.” It’s pretty incredible just to hear those words coming out of my mouth. But as for what happens next, there are going to be so many defining moments in my career. My career is just getting started.
You were a big WWE fan growing up, correct?
Oh, I was a huge fan. I had all the action figures. I had the blue ring with the red, white and blue ring ropes. I was a huge Ultimate Warrior and Rockers fan.
It’s interesting that you liked the babyfaces as a kid.
Yeah, I mean, I enjoyed all of it. I just enjoyed the pure entertainment. Of course I think that’s what kids do – kids love heroes. They love someone they can look at and go, “Wow, I want to be just like that person.” I don’t think kids say that about me. I think they say, “I want to be the opposite of that person.” [laughs]
A lot of kids grow up loving pro wrestling, but most don’t end up actually becoming wrestlers. At what point did you decide that this is something that you really wanted to pursue? Was it when you were on “The Real World?”
As a kid growing up, you have dreams and aspirations. But as you start getting older and older, you realize that you just do what falls in place. And what falls in place usually is you go to high school, you go to college. After college, you get a job. After a job, you get a family, and you just stay where you’ve lived all your life. So that’s the kind of mindset that I was in. And then when I got on “The Real World” off of a whim, just trying out, that gave me the idea that I can do anything I wanted with my life. I basically went home and said, “I want to be a WWE superstar.” So it gave me the confidence that I needed to basically set myself up to become what I am today.
Tell me about how “The Miz” alter ego was born on “The Real World.”
Nobody on that show liked me and nobody would listen to me, so I created this character called Miz that literally would just yell at people and start screaming at everyone and tell them like it is. When I started doing that stuff, it started to really catch on, and that’s when I set out to become a WWE superstar. But I didn’t want to be the guy who just gets a contract because he was a reality star. I wanted to be the guy who earned his way into the WWE. I like to earn things; I don’t like them just handed to me. So I went to an independent wrestling school called UPW and paid my $2,500 to learn how to become a WWE superstar. WWE really wasn’t affiliated with UPW at the time, but UPW could teach me what I needed to know to try to make it in this industry. And it did a great job, because guess what? I’m WWE champion.
UPW – that’s the promotion in California that John Cena trained at, right?
What was going on in your life before you got on “Real World?”
Flipping burgers [laughs]. No, the funny part is, when I was 16 that’s what I did. I flipped burgers and I worked at my dad’s Mr. Hero. But when I got on “The Real World” I was in college at Miami of Ohio and I was a bouncer at a bar called Attractions, basically failing my way out of college.
Before I let you go, I want to ask you about working with Daniel Bryan. As soon as the pairings for NXT Season 1 were announced, the Internet Wrestling Community was up in arms about you being Bryan’s pro. What was your relationship with him like behind the scenes?
We were very cordial with each other, but you could tell on the inside that we were both trying to one-up one another because I thought I was better than him and he thought he was better than me. I thought I was better than him just because I’ve been in WWE for four years now and how long had he been in WWE? Zero time. He basically performed in front of 25 people at a bingo hall and was called the best in the world. I mean, please, I don’t care if some dirt sheet is writing about how great you are and that you were able to perform in front of 100 people. Congratulations. I’m performing in front of 16,000 to 20,000 a night and millions across the globe. As far as working with him, though, he’s a very, very cool guy and very, very talented. He is one of the true up-and-comers in the WWE and has proven himself and keeps proving himself and improving. And he really, really wants it, which is all you can really ask for.
Final question: Any words for the people in Baltimore who will see you perform live?
Yeah: You’re lucky. You’re seeing the most must-see WWE champion in the history of this company. We’re doing a fatal fourway cage match, so we’re bringing something special to Baltimore — especially since I’m coming. I’m the WWE champion. And you’re welcome.
Photo courtesy of World Wrestling Entertainment
To view a photo gallery of The Miz, click here.