On WWE’s recent No Mercy pay-per-view, The Miz suffered his first real loss of 2016, and fans who have been paying attention could not be happier. Despite the abrupt ending to the Never-Ending Intercontinental Championship World Tour to heated rival Dolph Ziggler, the match was the latest piece of evidence that Miz is ready for a true spotlight. And now that he’s almost free of his secondary title obligations (a title, mind you, that he has helped to elevate to its current lofty position after years of misuse), it’s time for the Miz to take the next step. After being the low-key AND high-key MVP of the company for most of the year, it’s time for Miz to move to become the next WWE World Champion.
It all starts with his character work, because of course it does; since winning the title, there has been no one as annoying, as frustrating, and as deliciously evil as The Miz. From taunting Apollo Crews and forgetting his name (it’s not Apollo Creed, Mike), to humiliating Ziggler last week in front of his hometown crowd and his parents, Miz finally channeled all of the things that make him so punchable and turned them to his advantage. It also hasn’t hurt that his IRL wife Maryse made her much-overdue return to the company; their chemistry is obviously off the charts, their relationship is weirdly sweet in its conjuncted evil, and having a valet allows Miz to double down on cheating at all costs.
Not only has Miz become the full-fledged mega heel we all knew he could be, but the Most Must-See Superstar in WWE History has also started to back up his boasting inside the ring. One need only look at the match he lost on Sunday for proof; imagine Mike bleeping Mizanin putting on that match even two years ago. Impossible, and yet, with the help of the always melodramatic Ziggler and the Career vs. Title stipulation, Miz showcased all of the talents that make him arguably the best WWE superstar of the moment. Between cheating in every way possible (Hairspray! The Spirit Squad!) and busting out slingshot powerbombs, Miz’s matches have become appointment television. The fact that he started provoking Daniel Bryan by doing his moves and his signature taunts is the icing on the cake.
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Speaking of the Yes Man, if there’s one moment that truly encapsulates why Miz should not only fight for but become the WWE World Champion, it was his scintillating promo on Talking Smack back in August. In roughly three minutes, he blurred the line between kayfabe and reality so well that Daniel Bryan himself might have thought it went too far. Watch again, though, and focus on the ending; Miz’s intensity isn’t just the mark of a good actor there, it’s his real persona shining through. Anyone who knows about Miz knows that he worked his ass off to go from a Real World star to a WWE mainstay that does whatever the company asks of him. Whether that’s talk shows and charity events or being the third most important person in his own one-on-one WrestleMania main event, he just keeps on trucking because he loves it.
Of course, even if Miz gets put into the main event, he has to contend with the only other wrestler that has a true claim to “WWE Performer of the Year”: the Phenomenal AJ Styles. Since joining WWE, Styles has been a revelation, melding his world-famous indie work rate with WWE presentation and storylines. Miz vs. Styles is the best program WWE could put on right now, handing the ball to two expert talkers that could deliver a shocking masterpiece in the ring. Even though both are currently heels, they are so far and away better than everyone else performing right now that they could make that awkward character fit work. And while Styles almost certainly has a date with destiny and John Cena at WrestleMania 33 (seriously, there’s no way they’re passing on that match for Cena’s 16th world title win), why not let Miz ascend to the peak beforehand? The biggest show of them all is a few months away, and rewarding Miz for putting SmackDown Live on his back would not only show good faith in one of their hardest workers, but it would reward a man who many had as an afterthought when the calendar flipped to 2016, but who now is an indispensable part of the WWE. The Miz is what’s best for business, and if you don’t believe me, ask him yourself.