Does his recent loss of the Intercontinental Championship foreshadow The Miz moving onto bigger and better things ahead of WrestleMania?
WrestleMania season is almost upon us, and with only weeks to wait before the 2017 Royal Rumble, the WWE Universe has grown rampant with speculation as to who will be headlining the 33rd annual Showcase of the Immortals in April.
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We already know that Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens will duke it out for the WWE Universal Championship on the night, and AJ Styles and John Cena will be laying it all on the line for the WWE Title, so in all likeliness, whoever does win the Royal Rumble match will probably be going head-to-head with one of those four individuals.
Over the month, you’ll see several stars stepping forward to proclaim their intentions at the Rumble, but one man who hasn’t exactly let his status be known is The Miz.
It’s no surprise, given that the A-lister had been carrying the WWE Intercontinental Championship until Dean Ambrose captured it on the first SmackDown Live of the New Year, a development that many didn’t anticipate so close to the Royal Rumble.
Now that he is without championship gold, however, there is certainly a case to be made for The Miz to make the best of a bad situation, and win the Royal Rumble match just to spite those who’ve held him back. Let’s take a look.
3. Testament to the Impact That the Brand Split Has Made
We could talk all day about the pros and cons of the brand extension, but for overall, it’s safe to say most fans will agree that it’s been a worthy investment.
Sure, Monday Night Raw might still be plagued by the same problems as always – it’s women’s division is being limited without reason, and the United States Championship picture is quickly fading with Roman Reigns holding the title – but on the flip side, there are plenty more good things about having two separate brands.
For the most part, wrestlers have been spread out nicely across the five hours of live television, so much so that the WWE has even introduced 205 Live as a way of featuring the cruiserweights that might not have had a chance to shine on Raw.
Only a handful of WWE Superstars have gone without any exposure, and as bad as that may be for them individually, the fact that way more performers are getting a chance to excel is something to be proud of for all parties involved.
Now, there have been a lot of names climbing through the ranks since the draft – Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, Becky Lynch, the NXT call-ups – but perhaps nobody has benefited more from the development than The Miz.
Let’s get things straight: The Miz has never been bad. But if you ask most fans, they’ll say that it wasn’t until he was finally allowed to take centre stage and speak his mind on SmackDown Live that the guy actually became, as he would say, must-see.
Since his resurgence, he’s consistently delivered some of the best promos and matches that the entire WWE has put forward, and seeing him go on to win the Royal Rumble and main-event WrestleMania would only serve to highlight that fact.
As good as the man was a year ago, if you had told anyone this time last year that The Miz was going to win the Rumble and potentially win the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, you would probably roll your eyes. But now, this is something a lot of people want to see happen, and it would never have been like this if not for The Miz being allowed to shine as a top heel on the more condensed SmackDown Live roster.
The Intercontinental Championship scene has been brought back from the brink as a result of The Miz’s impeccable heel work over the last five months, and the fact that the title has been accentuated by the story, instead of sullied as an accessory.
Miz has taken serious pride in his role as the leading man of the SmackDown Live mid-card, and it’s made for great television to see some of the brand’s top babyfaces in Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose attempt to reap the benefits of that.
Now that “The Lunatic Fringe” has toppled The Miz to become champion, surely there’s nowhere to go for arguably the best heel on Tuesday nights than up – which means a WWE Championship match is on the horizon.
We’ve seen Miz drop the title before, and it lasted all but a few weeks before he ended up recapturing it. And with plenty of names crowding the main event scene at the moment, the odds of seeing Ambrose back at the top before WrestleMania don’t seem all that likely.
With that in mind, a relatively lengthy reign with the Intercontinental Championship would actually make sense in terms of keeping Dean Ambrose in prime positioning on the SmackDown Live line-up, while also maintaining the prominence of the title now that The Miz is, hopefully, going to be moving on to bigger and better things.
The Royal Rumble match has always been the perfect opportunity for a guy like The Miz to transition into the main event, and given the heaping handful of names who already have a fair shake at a win in the Rumble this year, there’s no reason why The Miz shouldn’t be a leading candidate now that he’s without gold.
The only reasonable next step to reward the immense work that The Miz has done for SmackDown Live’s mid-card is to put him in a program for the WWE Championship. And given his excellent promo work, there’s no doubt he’d be able to build a story worthy of a big time WrestleMania championship match.
1. It’s the Most Rewarding Outcome for the Daniel Bryan Feud
The start of The Miz’s journey to becoming one of the WWE’s most talked-about stars all began just after SummerSlam in August, when the then-Intercontinental Champion took to Talking Smack to rant about the way he’s been constantly mistreated and overlooked because of the certain “safe” way he chooses to wrestle.
What made this promo so awe-inspiring wasn’t just the fact that his arguments – about having never been seriously injured in the ring, or Daniel Bryan not quitting to compete on the indie scene again – were actually pretty valid, but it was because his speech was so passionate that you actually felt for this guy.
He had been overlooked, and it wasn’t until that moment that a lot of people finally began to take notice. As a result, anytime The Miz has either crossed paths with Daniel Bryan or appeared on Talking Smack since that day – much like we saw this past week after SmackDown Live – the resulting moment ends up being great.
The only problem is that, even though the story of The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan is one based on almost seven years’ worth of history, the unfortunate reality is that with the SmackDown Live General Manager still not cleared by WWE to compete, there’s no way this rivalry can really have a fitting end to put it to rest without a match.
They tried moving on from it back in August by having Dolph Ziggler step up to face The Miz – somewhat on Bryan’s behalf – but it’s never going to be the same as Miz and Bryan standing opposite each other, perhaps even at WrestleMania.
On the off chance that WWE does clear Bryan, it will be an extraordinary battle fueled by Bryan’s yearning desire for competition, and The Miz’s need to prove himself against the most vocal person disbelieving in his abilities. But for now, the only person who should stand with anything to gain from their run-ins is The Miz, who can actually wrestle the full-time schedule and reap the rewards of their feud.
What better way for The Miz to stick it to the GM than by winning the Royal Rumble match and going on to compete in the brand’s most prominent match at the biggest show of the year, for the WWE Championship? The Miz is a broken man right now, held down by the authority, non-wrestlers and now the officials of the brand.
The only way to bounce back from that is to do the unthinkable, and capture the opportunities he otherwise wouldn’t have been given by just taking them – by outlasting 29 other guys and forcing himself into the main event at WrestleMania.