The Miz arrived in the WWE during the 2004 season of Tough Enough, looking to earn a WWE contract through the program after a stint on MTV’s “Real World” television show in the early 2000s. It was on that show where Mike Mizanin created the character of “The Miz”, a brash, loudmouthed pro wrestler, in a similar style to The Rock, one of the Attitude Era’s biggest stars. Miz had a clear dream to one day be a WWE superstar, and he set out to do anything in order to achieve that. He would go on to do well on Tough Enough, despite not winning the season (the winner would be Daniel Puder, who is most remembered for getting chopped into oblivion by Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and Hardcore Holly at the 2005 Royal Rumble). Miz wasn’t done with WWE, however, as he was brought on to be the host of WWE SmackDown, as well as the host of the 2006 edition of the Diva Search (where he did a not-so-good job on the mic).
Once all of that was over, Miz moved on to singles competition, finally making his debut as an in-ring competitor on SmackDown, where he defeated Tatanka to get his first win. From there, he feuded with and wrestled the likes of The Boogeyman, Chris Benoit, and The Undertaker, while seemingly not having much of a future in WWE. In reality, The Miz was going through backstage troubles. After getting on the bad sides of wrestling veterans, he was kicked out of the locker room. This would normally spell the beginning of the end for one’s WWE career, but The Miz used it as motivation to get better and prove those veterans wrong. To prove that he wasn’t just some MTV celebrity, that he had what it took to be one of the industry’s biggest stars. It was undoubtedly going to be a long, hard road for The Awesome One, but he didn’t back down. He took his first steps along that road in November 2007, when he teamed with John Morrison to win the WWE Tag Team Championships. They would have a rather long reign, defending against teams such as Finlay and Hornswoggle, Kane and CM Punk, and Matt Hardy and MVP.
Around this time, Miz and Morrison starting doing an online web series called “The Dirt Sheet” where they’d verbally run down their current rivals, and really, anyone else in WWE. It showed what these two young superstars could do on the mic, as well as showing their range of ability to play different parts. It was a unique situation, and one of the first instances of superstars using the internet to get themselves over and more well known with the WWE audience. The Miz and John Morrison would lose the WWE Tag Team Championships in July 2008 at the Great American Bash to the team of Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, though not long after, they engaged in a brief feud with D-Generation X, which saw the veteran duo dispose of the young upstarts at RAW 800 in November 2008. In December at a house show, Miz and Morrison would become World Tag Team Champions, defeating the duo of CM Punk and Kofi Kingston. They would then hold those titles until WrestleMania XXV in March 2009, where they lost a unification match to Carlito and Primo. This would end up being Miz and Morrison’s last high profile match together as a tag team, as once The Miz was drafted to RAW in April 2009, he turned his back on Morrison by assaulting him in the ring.
A large majority of fans were uncertain of The Miz at this point in time. We knew he had what it took to be a great tag team partner, but could he hold his own by himself? More importantly, could he do it with the big dogs on the RAW brand? The answer ended up being: yes. He could hold his own quite well. Miz engaged in a feud with John Cena on RAW in mid-2009, calling out the franchise every chance he could, and claiming a victory for himself every time John Cena didn’t respond (in a similar style to Chris Jericho’s feud with Goldberg in WCW). Eventually, John Cena had enough of The Miz, and challenged him to a match at The Bash in 2009. Cena would handily defeat The Miz at the event, however, it was a coming out party of sorts. Miz had a high profile match against the biggest star in the company on pay-per-view. That was huge, and everyone knew it. It showed the trust and faith the company had in Miz. After being briefly fired in kayfabe from RAW, he won his job back by defeating Eugene in a contract on a poll match, where he revealed a new look and new attitude. Gone were the fedoras, baggy bedazzled shorts, and multicolored hair of previous years. Miz was now sporting trunks, matching boots, and his natural hair color. This new direction paid off for The Miz, as he would win the United States Championship at Hell in a Cell in October 2009. The accolades didn’t stop there either, as Miz would team with Big Show to win the Unified Tag Team titles in February 2010.
The Miz was a prominent part of WWE television in 2010, between him holding multiple titles at once, as well as being on NXT, as the “pro” of his “rookie” Daniel Bryan, where the two would take part in one of the best-told stories of modern times. In July, Miz won the Money in the Bank contract for the RAW brand, which guaranteed him a shot at the WWE Championship whenever he wanted it. After losing the United States title for good to Daniel Bryan at Night of Champions in 2010, Miz would cash in his contract on Randy Orton the night after Survivor Series to win the WWE Championship. It was an emotional sight, as The Miz visibly cried and mouthed “I told you all” as he raised his newly won championship high above his head. Miz had succeeded in his journey towards becoming a superstar. From the tag title reigns to the RAW mid-card, to Money in the Bank, to finally being WWE Champion. Granted, his title reign wasn’t all that glorious, with him mainly defending against the likes of Randy Orton, John Morrison, and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler. He rode his title reign all the way to the main event of WrestleMania 27 in April 2011, where he received one of the most beautifully done video packages of all time to Nas’ ‘Hate Me Now’. It was a perfect way to show everything that Miz had gone through and achieved to get to where he was at that point in time.
After losing the WWE title at Extreme Rules 2011, Miz hovered around the main event. He got involved with R-Truth, forming the “Awesome Truth,” who believed there was a conspiracy against them. They feuded with Air Boom, Triple H, CM Punk, and eventually, John Cena and The Rock. A tag match pitting the two megastars against Miz and Truth headlined the Survivor Series 2011 PPV at Madison Square Garden. It was The Rock’s first match in seven years, and undoubtedly one of Miz’s career highlights, regardless of how one-sided it was. Following this, Miz moved down the card, competing in a throwaway tag match at WrestleMania XXVIII in 2012, and eventually losing to Brodus Clay on PPV. Around this time, The Miz took some time off to film The Marine. When he came back, he set his sights on the one title he’d never held before: the Intercontinental Championship. This is where our journey begins.
I’ll be ranking The Miz’s IC title reigns for worst to best, and of course, this will all be my own personal opinion. Now, without further ado, let’s get into it.
#7. September 21, 2014 – September 22, 2014
You had to know Miz’s two one-day Intercontinental Championship reigns would be first. The Miz and Dolph Ziggler feuded for the IC title for a few months in 2014, following Battleground. They traded back and forth with Ziggler winning it at SummerSlam, and then The Miz won the title back at Night of Champions a month later thanks to some heel tactics, which starts this specific reign. However one cannot enjoy this match due to the awful commentary provided by Florida Georgia Line, who seemingly could not care less to be there.
It really drags the match down, and since this match essentially is this reign, it knocks it down to last place in the rankings. Now granted, Miz and Ziggler had a better match with better commentary the following night on RAW, where Ziggler wins the title back, but it does not help to undo how meaningless the IC title felt the night before. Truly a terrible reign, at a terrible period for the title. Miz tried his best, but he’s only human my friend. Not even he can overcome the power of terrible celebrity guests.
#6. April 7, 2013 – April 8, 2013
This here is the second of Miz’s one-day title reigns, and it came during his god awful face run in 2013. Lord knows why WWE booked this match the way they did. Maybe they wanted something memorable for the pre-show (which is where this match took place)? Maybe they did it because Miz’s parents were in attendance? Nobody knows, and quite frankly, I don’t anybody really cares.
This was as forgettable as it gets. The Miz defeated Wade Barrett to win the IC title on the WrestleMania 29 kickoff show, and then he dropped it right back to the bearer of Bad News the following night on RAW. Now, what makes this reign better than the previous one? Well, Florida Georgia Line wasn’t there to do commentary for it. That’s about it.
#5. November 15, 2016 – January 3, 2017
Just weeks after Dolph Ziggler won the Intercontinental Championship from The Awesome One in a Title vs. Career match at No Mercy, he put the title on the line against The Miz in a rematch, where Miz would ultimately win the title back, and head into Survivor Series to face Sami Zayn in a special brand vs. brand title match. Following that, Miz defended the title against Ziggler for the final time in a Ladder Match at the TLC PPV, before losing it to Dean Ambrose in the main event of the first SmackDown Live of 2017.
It was an abrupt end to a short title reign for The Miz. Although the story leading to Miz dropping the title to Ambrose was extremely well done, it felt as though Dean was “above” the IC title at that point, making the switch feel weird. Just think, some of us thought Miz was going to be elevated to WWE Championship status again following this. Oh, how wrong we were…
#4. July 20, 2014 – August 17, 2014
Battleground 2014 saw a battle royal to determine a new Intercontinental Champion after Bad News Barrett had to vacate the title due to injury. It featured many big stars such as Sheamus, Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio, and of course, The Miz. It was a fun match and featured a great ending sequence between Sheamus and Ziggler that kept you on the edge of your seat. Once Dolph eliminated the Celtic Warrior, Miz snuck up from behind for the final elimination and the win. That led to a month long title reign, which wasn’t too special in itself, but it was really the birth of the current “Hollywood” Miz that we’ve all come to know and love today.
Following this, we got Mizdow as well, which became one of the hottest stories for WWE up until WrestleMania 31. This specific title reign, however, ended at SummerSlam, where Dolph Ziggler would defeat Miz for the title (isn’t it amazing how often Miz and Ziggler are paired together for the IC title? Holy smokes).
#3. July 23, 2012 – October 3, 2012
RAW 1000 was a very special for the WWE and its universe, as it celebrated the flagship program and how long it has survived in the ever-evolving world of entertainment. It was also a night of firsts. Our first look at the new RAW set that would last until the second brand extension in 2016, the first look at Mae Young’s hand-child all grown up, the first of permanent three hour RAWs, and the first ever Intercontinental Championship win for The Miz.
Miz defeated Christian at RAW 1000 to claim his first IC title and went on to defend against the likes of Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes, and Sin Cara at the SummerSlam and Night of Champions PPV that followed. This title reign didn’t stop its history-making at RAW 1000 though, as when Miz lost the title to Kofi Kingston in October 2012, it happened on WWE’s new (at the time) program “Main Event,” which helped to establish that program as one to watch. Along with that, it was also the only title switch to happen on that show to date. Pretty impressive, all things considered.
It wasn’t a long reign for The Miz, but it damn sure was an important one.
#2. June 4, 2017 – Present Day
The Miz was Superstar Shook Up to RAW in April 2017 from SmackDown Live, where he immediately resumed his old feud with Dean Ambrose over the IC title. This would see Miz win back the title from his foe at Extreme Rules in 2017, and he still holds it to this very day. It’s been an interesting, somewhat disheartening run (as a Miz fan, at least), but it has been fun to watch unfold. From a never-ending feud with Dean Ambrose to a match on the SummerSlam pre-show in front of a nearly empty arena, Miz has done it all this time around.
One has got to think his days are numbered, however, with both The Shield and Braun Strowman after him now. Either way, Miz has represented the IC title extremely well through the past few months. This current reign reminds me of Cody Rhodes’ from late 2011. Cody didn’t exactly defeat everybody, but he carried that championship like it meant the world to him. Just like The Miz is doing today.
#1. April 4, 2016 – October 9, 2016
After floundering for the late part of 2015 and early part of 2016, The Miz experienced a career revitalization on the RAW after WrestleMania 32. With his wife Maryse now at his side, he defeated Zack Ryder to win the Intercontinental Championship, and he never looked back. He went on to have a 5-star classic match against Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and Cesaro at Extreme Rules 2016 where he retained the championship. He then retained against Darren Young at Battleground before moving to SmackDown Live, where he defeated Apollo Crews at SummerSlam, and Dolph Ziggler at Backlash, before finally losing the title to Ziggler at No Mercy in one the greatest matches of the past ten years.
Any doubt that The Miz “still had it” was certainly erased with this title reign. It put Miz back on TV in a prominent position and allowed him and his wife to shine as WWE’s “it” couple. It was entertaining TV, as the trio of Miz, Maryse, and the IC title helped to establish SmackDown Live as the brand to watch.
It truly was something special. Even the “bad” stuff like the Apollo Crews feud was still very, very good. I’d like to believe it was with this title reign where WWE finally realized what they had with The Miz, and where they realized they can’t take him for granted anymore. This guy is a star.
What do you guys think? Agree? Disagree? How would you personally rank The Miz’s IC title reigns? More importantly, where do you rank him on your list of greatest Intercontinental Champions of all time? Let us know in the comments down below, or hit me up personally on Twitter at @TheRealJeriKane.