My kids are seven and nine. They are not allowed to watch wrestling, but because of their dad, they’ve met three major wrestling personalities from the 80s. All three of them were heels in their day; they could not have been nicer to my children. They shook hands, asked their names, took time to listen to them, gave autographs when asked, and share some stories. They were incredibly kind to my kids.
All three of these encounters happened away from the ring. Far away. Had they happened at ring side, my kids know these nice gentlemen would not have been nice at all. The men who smiled and took the time to get to know my kids would have insulted them in every way possible. They would have scowled at them, scared them, and made my kids hate them. Why? Because that’s their job.
The world needs more Kevin Owens. We need more wrestlers who don’t care about people’s feelings, even kids. We need fewer independent wrestlers playing the heel and then selling T-shirts and smiling for pictures. (Props to Aaron Williams, who I saw forego his usual gimmick table at a recent even where he was working heel.) We need more of the old Dutch Mantell “Don’t buy my photo and rip it up in front of me,” like the time the Lovely Lylah sold a bunch of cake pops for charity by saying, “Don’t buy these just to throw them at me during my match!” We need men and women willing to live the heel life in the ring, in the arena, and yes, even on social media.
We don’t need Triple H comforting kids at ringside after playing the heel. We need more Kevin Owens.
Last night my Facebook feed blew up with people proclaiming the Miz’s promo on Talking Smack as the promo of his life. I beg to differ. As great as last night was (and I defy to you tell me it wasnt great), the promo of his life took place a few years ago. There was no musical introduction. He didn’t come down the ramp. He walked around the side of the ramp into the arena, shooting about the road he took to get to the WWE and fulfill his dream.
I don’t recall anything specific he said that night, but I recall how it made me feel. It was the first time I truly believed in the Miz.
The Miz has worked for everything he has been given. His reality TV show fame did not translate to a free pass at OVW; Danny Davis and Rip Rogers would never allow it. He learned from old school guys how to make it in the business, and he learned his lessons well.
The Miz also seized the moment every chance he had. Roni Jonah tells a story about a time she was supposed to work a program as Seth Skyfire’s girlfriend at OVW. Paul Heyman was disappointed with the kiss Seth laid on Roni during a TV taping, and he let his feelings be known to the locker room. “You expect me to believe she’s your girlfriend with a kiss like that?”
The Miz spoke up: “She could be my girlfriend.” Within a few weeks, Roni left Seth on OVW TV for the Miz.
As opportunistic as he can be, the Miz also knows how to put people over when it’s his turn. Did you hear him on Talk is Jericho with Damien Mizdow? At first listen, it sounded like the Miz was there to put himself over Mizdow. Listen again; the Miz puts his tag partner over huge, and then quietly steps away. It was masterful.
Crazy Mary Dobson also experienced the generous side of the Miz in her first appearance on Raw. According to her, the Miz did everything he could to give her as much face time as possible, telling here where to stand so the camera would pick her up.
Crazy Mary’s story runs counter to the general perception most fans have of the Miz: he’s a big mouth hack, a talentless loser, an opportunist who is only out for himself. People who see the Miz that way are seeing exactly what the Miz wants them to see. They don’t see a guy who grew up loving wrestling playing a character on TV because they can’t distinguish the real man from his character.
In an age when kayfabe is supposedly dead and buried, the Miz has done the impossible. He has made himself a true heel in the eyes of the fans. He’s not getting booed because the fans understand that he’s playing a heel and that’s the story being told. He’s not being booed because he’s the heel people “love to hate.” He’s being booed because people truly hate the Miz.
The Miz is a rare talent that could easily has worked in a long-gone era. He’s the kind of guy who makes the fans forget they’re watching a show and boo from the bottom of their hearts. He’s a true student of the game who learned his lessons well, and he’s only getting better.
I don’t expect my thoughts to persuade many Miz haters to see him differently, and that’s okay. The Miz wouldn’t want you turning into a fan of his anyway. The more you hate the Miz, the more you’ll demand – and pay – to see him get his butt kicked