Andy Marshall is back with thoughts on a very polarizing WWE title switch. He and Keila Cash covered it on their Fight Game Media Network podcast, “Break It Down.” You can subscribe on Patreon.
In a move that couldn’t be entirely unexpected, but seemed to send shockwaves through the professional wrestling landscape nonetheless, The Miz won his second WWE Championship from Drew McIntyre after cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase, following the most recent Elimination Chamber match. This is the first time Miz has been world champion in a decade, and despite holding the briefcase allowing him a world title shot at any moment of his choosing, it seemed unlikely WWE would allow The Miz to defeat either of their extremely protected world champions to facilitate such a change. Even in his run with the briefcase, Miz has been portrayed as a bit of an afterthought, having even lost the contract once after a failed but since reversed cash-in back in December.
There is a classic trope in storytelling known as the “Seven Year Rule.” The rule more or less stipulates that your audience is constantly changing, with the main reason people tune out being they have simply grown up and move on to new interests. Consider what you were really into at 11 years old. Now, consider what you were really into at 18 years old. There could be some overlap, for instance, a favorite sports team or type of cuisine. But chances are, it will be much more diverse and matured for the 18 year old version of yourself.
Now, if you’re a person running a professional wrestling company, the “Seven Year Rule” mostly has to do with how long you have to wait before running the same angle, storyline, or twist, because by that point the majority of your audience has turned over, and something we saw in 2014 might seem fresh in 2021. A great example of this is a superplex that destroys the ring, because the two wrestlers are just so darn beefy. While The Big Show was a part of the last three instances I can think of, they were all used to get over a new monster heel on the block; Brock Lesnar in 2003, Mark Henry in 2011, and Braun Strowman in 2017. While not quite strictly adhering to the “seven” year portion of the trope, the time between these is enough to suggest WWE thought their audience would not immediately remember such feats of strength. For an example that’s a little too on the nose, see Kane burying the Undertaker alive in 2003…and then burying him alive again in 2010.
Ten years ago, WWE decided to make Mike “The Miz” Mizanin their world champion. He would win the Money In the Bank briefcase and cash it in a few months later on a prone Randy Orton to win his first world title. This was not a popular decision at the time. At the moment, Vince McMahon needed a heel champion to work the upcoming WrestleMania against John Cena. Despite a very much in-his-prime CM Punk being a member of the roster, the decision was made to go with Miz. This was a bit shocking at the time, though not as much as say Jinder Mahal’s win six years later. Miz was the MITB briefcase holder, sure, but he was also a little small, had rumors of being disliked backstage for years, and was typecast as Reality Show Host guy. If the guy from the Real World who would run around and do a bad Rock impression could become WWE champion, surely there was hope for us all.
While Miz would actually retain his title at WrestleMania thanks to interference from The Rock, Miz was not long for WWE championship glory, as he would eventually lose the title to Cena the next month at Extreme Rules in a triple threat cage match that also included John Morrison. With that, the grand Main Event Miz experiment came to an end. Miz would return to his role of midcard babyface/midcard heel who seemed a rung or two below the actual main eventers for the next ten years.
This is not to say there weren’t highlights! Miz would redefine the Intercontinental Championship, winning it eight times. Add a pair of United States title runs and eight separate Tag Team title runs with partners such as Damien Sandow and [checks notes] Shane McMahon, a marriage to Maryse, a hit television show on USA network, countless movie and endorsement opportunities and generally being an avatar for when WWE would need a handsome guy to do some press…things have turned out well despite never sniffing the top prize in the company. Because of all these things, actually, many felt Miz would NEVER reach the pinnacle again.
This is not to say there weren’t lowlights, either. Miz was not particularly protected during this time period, where winning eight Intercontinental titles also means losing it eight times. These ranged from good if not a little overdone with Dolph Ziggler, to honestly kind of sad against Bad News Barrett. He lost via pinfall to [checks notes] Shane McMahon at WrestleMania of all places, when he superplexed Shane and happened to land with his opponent on top of him for a three count. He would also lose the rematch in a steel cage the next month in Saudi Arabia. It is really important to note that Miz was THE BABYFACE in this feud and still wound up losing to an out-of-shape underground fight promoter.
As mentioned previously, Miz had even attempted and failed to cash in his world title shot back at Tables, Ladders, and Chairs 2020, entering himself in the ladder match between McIntyre and AJ Styles as it was in-progress. It was reversed the next night on RAW, as John Morrison, and not Miz, was the one to offer the contract to the referee and thus nullified the attempt. After booking themselves into a corner with having Otis win the briefcase originally, only to abort that idea and give it to the Miz, only to abort that idea and have him lose it unceremoniously, to then go back on that decision and give him the briefcase, to then GO FORWARD with having him defeat one of the biggest new stars in the company, it’s not hard to see why people thought The Miz was not going to hoist the title any time soon. This is even after you consider maybe it could be a favor for working with and putting over the son of McMahon at multiple large shows.
Yet, here we are. Whether this means Miz is in the main event of WrestleMania a second time remains to be seen. There is an awful long time between now and the next WrestleMania in April. Bobby Lashley facing Drew McIntyre has much more of the big match feel than really any conceivable match featuring The Miz. One thing you cannot take away from Miz is that if his number is called to headline the biggest show of the year, he’ll do whatever he can to make you want to see him lose.