What does Miz cashing in on the WWE Championship mean for WrestleMania?
By Ryan Satin
FOX Sports WWE Analyst
The Miz is once again WWE Champion, and wrestling fans all around the world, including me, have opinions about it.
The surprise title change occurred Sunday following the Raw Elimination Chamber match in which Drew McIntyre successfully defended the WWE title inside of the giant steel structure, only to catch a quick beatdown afterward at the hands of Bobby Lashley.
This allowed Miz to cash in his Money in the Bank contract like the heel he is and defeat McIntyre with ease to become WWE Champion for the second time in his career.
The last time Miz held the WWE title was 10 years ago.
Just think about that (while those of you over the age of 30 deal with how old you suddenly feel).
The Miz has been grinding for an actual decade to become WWE Champion again. A lot of you who in that span of time have been working to move ahead in your own careers can probably relate.
The last time he held the belt was in 2011 – when Charlie Sheen popularized the term "winning," "Rolling in the Deep" made Adele a household name, John Cena was still hating on The Rock for being an actor and Kim Kardashian filed for divorce for the second time.
Because of that, before any of us in the wrestling community criticize the decision to make him champion, fantasy book him losing the belt before Mania or mock him for being slapped by Bad Bunny earlier in the night, I believe we should give the guy a little bit of praise first for getting himself to the top of the mountain again.
Love The Miz or hate him, there’s one thing you can’t deny: the amount of work he has put into making himself worthy of being champion again over the past 10 years.
He has teamed with Alex Riley, R-Truth, Damien Sandow and The Miztourage, launched a popular reality show, cut the most talked about promo in the history of "Talking Smack," had a memorable run with the Intercontinental Championship, taken part in notable feuds with Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon, wrestled whomever on whatever part of the card and consistently refreshed his gimmick throughout the years to remain relevant.
Miz has also upped his in-ring game over the past decade to become one of the company’s most reliable wrestlers.
Now that I’ve heaped all that praise on him, let’s dig deeper.
One complaint people have is that the 40-year-old Superstar could have been booked stronger before he defeated Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship, even in the manner in which it was done.
The last singles match Miz won was against Otis in October of last year in order to gain ownership of the Money in the Bank contract. Since then, he has lost to just about everyone.
You could look at this one of two ways, though.
Yes, it would’ve been nice to see him rack up some wins along the way … but was it really needed?
Miz is a delusional heel who thinks he’s one of the top stars in the company. Sneaking his way into a title win with a Money in the Bank opportunity he basically stole couldn’t be more fitting.
His victory over Drew being done in such villainous fashion also helps set up one of two important goals at WrestleMania this year.
The first is making sure WWE's only audience in more than a year boos Roman Reigns like crazy. The company has spent a significant amount of time these past few months making him the bad guy everyone wanted, so "The Head of The Table" receiving the same negative reaction being piped in for him at the ThunderDome is important.
To achieve this, the company is putting Reigns against Edge – which was made official at Elimination Chamber – a Superstar fans have been clamoring to cheer in person for ever since his miraculous return at last year’s Royal Rumble.
The second is giving Drew McIntyre the big WrestleMania title victory in front of fans that he was robbed of last year.
WWE took the first step in accomplishing this on Sunday by having Miz and Lashley swindle McIntyre out of the WWE title after a grueling Elimination Chamber match against five other opponents.
This gives WWE a few options for Drew at WrestleMania, all of which involve two strong heel contenders in Miz and Bobby Lashley.
Miz knows how to make people want to see him lose.
If he’s able to dodge Drew all the way until WrestleMania, fans will be in a fervor waiting for his comeuppance.
The path that makes the most sense, though, is Lashley defeating Miz for the title at Fastlane (or sooner) before McIntyre sets his sights on regaining the WWE Championship.
Bobby Lashley might not be Brock Lesnar, but he’s a former MMA fighter built like a beast who has been one of the most protected performers on the Raw roster for more than a year. To say the similarities are there would be an understatement.
One clue that might signal this to be the most likely option is the fact that Bobby dropped the United States title to Matt Riddle on Sunday without being pinned in the match.
MVP was then seen talking to Miz later in the night before Bobby helped clear the way for his title win.
Whatever the circumstances for this team-up, Lashley’s character can now shift his focus to becoming WWE champion for the first time in his career without it seeming like the U.S. title loss makes him any less strong.
There’s also the option for a Triple Threat Match between all three, but I have a feeling Bad Bunny causes Miz to lose the WWE Championship due to their current feud, and it sets up a WrestleMania tag team match pitting Miz and Morrison against the Latin recording artist and Damian Priest.
There’s one more wild-card option out there, but I’m almost nervous to share it here out of fear of making the die-hard wrestling fans go wild in my mentions for the next week.
The Miz vs. Bad Bunny for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.
Look, I realize this is broaching David Arquette territory, but think of the massive media coverage WrestleMania would receive if Bad Bunny were challenging for one of WWE’s top titles.
I’m not saying he should win the belt or even get much offense in against The Miz if they were to wrestle against each other in this manner. All I’m saying is this would attract a ton of attention.
Let’s not ignore the fact that Bad Bunny is reportedly one of WWE’s biggest merch movers at the moment or that he's helping their social media numbers skyrocket when he’s involved in the shows.
According to WWE, via NBC News, Bad Bunny’s Royal Rumble performance racked up more than 36.7 million total video views across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WWE.com, as well as more than 2.5 million total engagements across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that night.
That was before he won the 24/7 title, which he showed off to non-wrestling fans over the weekend while performing on Saturday Night Live.
I realize the die-hard wrestling fans will crap all over this sort of idea, but it does have potential for attracting new, younger viewers from around the world who could then turn into fans.
Vince Russo booking aside, the safest bet is on Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship on "The Grandest Stage of Them All."
I just had to mention the elephant in the room since he also happens to be one of the most-streamed artists on the planet.
Ryan Satin is a WWE analyst for FOX Sports. Satin previously appeared on FS1's "WWE Backstage" and founded Pro Wrestling Sheet, where he broke countless news stories as editor-in-chief.