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WWE wrestler Mike Mizanin: Bad guy gone good

Adam Zacharias (adam@khaleejtimes.com) / 10 October 2013

WWE superstar The Miz admits he misses being booed, as he prepares to wrestle in Abu Dhabi this weekend

FOR A MAN whose catchphrase is “I’m awesome”, it comes as no surprise that humility isn’t The Miz’s strong suit – and during the course of our interview the wrestler declares himself “the nicest guy you will ever meet” and scoffs when we wish him good luck performing in Abu Dhabi (“Luck? I don’t need luck!”).

Beneath the flamboyant character though is the sincere and personable Mike Mizanin, whom we met at The Westin Mina Seyahi Hotel. The Ohio native was visiting the UAE on a whistlestop promotional tour prior to the return of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) to the capital this weekend, for a three-day stint beginning tonight.

Mike, who turned 33 yesterday, first came to public attention in 2001 as a cast member on MTV reality show The Real World and subsequent spinoffs. He then turned his attention to becoming a professional wrestler, cutting his teeth in regional divisions and the WWE reality show Tough Enough before finally winning a contract with the company in 2006.

During his tenure, The Miz has generally portrayed himself as a hyper-cocky villain, or ‘heel’ to use the industry term, whilst also becoming one of the WWE’s top drawers.

In Abu Dhabi, The Miz will pair with The Big Show to battle Tag Team Championship holders Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns for the title. Also in town to perform are the likes of Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett and Ryback.

Here’s what The Miz had to say about rivalry, rock stars and realising his ambitions.

How does your body handle the constant punishment that comes with your job?

I don’t know. We do something like 250 shows a year. It’s one of those things – unless you do it, you can’t really explain it. I’ve been doing it so long, it becomes second nature.

And is there a way of learning how to be hit over the head with a metal chair?

No. You just don’t do it. You watch it on TV, enjoy it and don’t try it at home because we’re trained professionals.

You’ve recently started starring in films like The Marine 3: Homefront. Would you like to segue into a Hollywood career at some point?

Look, if I can get big-budget movies and bring more fans to the WWE then so be it. I enjoy doing movies, it’s a blast doing these things I never dreamed I could do. I always take every opportunity and I get the most out of it, no matter what it is.

Could starring in a movie ever beat the thrill of wrestling live in front of 10,000 people?

Doing movies is fun, but getting that reaction from a live audience… as soon as you come out, you know whether you’re hated or you’re loved. They’ll boo you, they’ll cheer you, they’ll start chanting – you can’t get that anywhere else but WWE.

Are you loved or hated at the moment?

Right now I’m actually being loved, which is pretty incredible. I can’t really explain it – for eight years I was hated by all and loved by none, and now it’s so weird that people are starting to cheer me. I’m embracing it, it’s kind of nice to hear people finally supporting me.

But do you miss being booed in any way?

Eight years of booing, you’re going to miss it. But I always looked at myself as a good guy; everyone else just thought I was a bad guy. So now everyone realises what a good guy I am.

Who would you say is the biggest sweetheart right now in the WWE?

I would say me! I’m the nicest guy you will ever meet in your entire life.

What’s the balance between camaraderie and competitiveness among the WWE wrestlers?

Everyone’s always competitive. Everyone always wants to be number one in the WWE – you want the titles, the main events at Wrestlemania, the movies, you want everything the WWE has to offer.

There must be a tight bond as well though...

Yeah, it’s like a family. You get in fights with your family, it’s kind of like that.

Do you think there’s any similarity between being a wrestler and being a rock star?

Absolutely. Rock stars and wrestlers are both on the road all the time performing in different cities. The difference though is that we’re athletes. We have to watch what we eat and we can’t go out partying all night. And we’re different from sports teams in that we’re year-round, we don’t have an off-season. It’s the hardest sport I’ve ever had to do, but it’s the most fun I’ve ever had too.

Has the WWE’s cleanliness programme (implemented in 2006) helped fix some of the company’s much-publicised drug problems?

Yeah, they implemented a programme where we’re tested all the time for every kind of drug. We’re tested harder than the NFL or the NBA because we want our superstars to be as healthy as they possibly can.

You’ve held numerous titles, but what’s your biggest remaining ambition in the WWE?

I’ve held every single title besides one: the World Heavyweight Championship. I’m a four-time Tag Team champion, two-time United States champion, two-time Intercontinental champion, one-time WWE champion, two-time Slammy Award-winner… Every opportunity I get, I’m taking, and when I get the opportunity to go for the World Heavyweight Championship, guess what? I’m taking it.

 
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