Two-time WWE Champion The Miz admittedly struggled to gain the acceptance of the WWE locker room when he first joined the main roster nearly 15 years ago.
After gaining fame as a Reality TV star and finishing as the runner-up on Tough Enough, The Miz spent a few years on the indies before arriving on SmackDown in April 2006. While recalling those early days, The Miz revealed the locker room viewed him as a Reality TV star and not an aspiring pro wrestler.
“When I first came to WWE, I think everyone assumed — and I wasn’t out there telling everyone I was on the independent scene — I was on The Real World and that’s why I was there,” Miz told Anthony Sulla-Heffinger of Yahoo! Entertainment.
“Everyone was like, ‘We don’t care who The Miz is. As a matter of fact, we don’t like The Miz, we don’t like Mike, we don’t like you. Period. You don’t belong here.’ I was always trying to find the right spot on the dial. I was turned up [as The Miz] for so long that when I got to WWE and I was at 100, WWE wanted me to take it down to like a 20. It takes time to develop that, it takes time to learn where you have to be and where you need to go.”
To improve on promos, The Miz began taking advantage of WWE’s media days, and started picking John Cena’s brains during live events.
“Guess what? Vince heard about [the media days] and would come up to me and say, ‘You’re doing a great job.’” Miz recounted. “That’s my boss. That’s the person I want to impress and the person who could get me to where I want to be. Now, at 40, with 16 years in the business under my belt, I get [what I was doing wrong then.] It was just through time and repetition and one day it just clicks. John Cena taught me all of that. When I started working with John Cena in live events, that’s when I learned what it takes to be a main-event caliber superstar.”
The Miz went onto reveal that he earned the respect of his peers after a match against The Undertaker in Jan. 2007. Four years later, he main evented WrestleMania XXVII.
When asked to talk about his recent eight-day reign as WWE Champion, The Miz said Bobby Lashley deserved to take the title off of him.
“Do I need a title to be relevant and a main event-caliber player in WWE? No, I don’t, but I can take a title and make someone else,” Miz said. “I had the title for eight days, but if you really look at how much I did in those eight days, Bobby Lashley was made to be the biggest monster in WWE [during that time]. I’m proud to say that I was a part of that. Bobby Lashley deserves the WWE championship and my job was to make him the biggest, scariest monster out there. We did it in one night. There is no better thing than when you’re a bad guy and you get pinned, to hear the crowd erupt.”
A new WWE 24 documentary on The Miz’s career will premiere this Sunday, April 25 on Peacock in the U.S. and WWE Network around the world. See below to watch the trailer: