Posts Tagged ‘The Miz’

Still the king of the ring: On his 61st birthday, Jerry Lawler nearly defeats Miz for WWE title on RAW

November 30th, 2010 4 comments

More than 35 years after Jerry Lawler’s first World heavyweight title match—a defeat at the hands of NWA titlist Jack Brisco on Sept. 16, 1974—the King and World Wrestling Entertainment turned back the hands of time with one of the most riveting WWE championship matches of 2010 on last night’s RAW. (For more on Lawler’s bouts with the late Jack Brisco and his quest to be World champion, click here.)

Like so many times before in his career with the likes of champions Brisco, Terry Funk and Nick Bockwinkel, Lawler came up heartbreakingly short despite a valiant effort against new WWE kingpin the Miz in a TLC (Tables, Ladders and Chairs) bout that was laid out exceptionally well.

In 1974, Jack Brisco was the first World champion Jerry Lawler faced; more than 35 years later, Miz was most likely the last.

Initially, the potentially dangerous TLC stipulation came off like a sadistic rib on Lawler, who was not only celebrating his 61st birthday Monday but was also still recovering from a staph infection in his leg. Instead, Lawler was portrayed postively as the aging Hall of Fame legend who still had at least one last great match left in him, much like his former hero, mentor and rival, Jackie Fargo, in Memphis.

While it was billed as Lawler’s first WWE title shot, the King had received at least three championship matches for the company’s top strap over the course of his 17-year run with Vince McMahon. Bret Hart defeated Lawler in a cage match for the WWF title on consecutive nights in 1996 at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville on Feb. 16 and at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis on Feb. 17 in front of 7,500 fans. I believe Lawler also had a shot at the belt when Shawn Michaels was champion on an episode of RAW in 1996.

Last night, as Lawler repeatedly punched Miz, who Mr. Perfectly sold the King’s offense, I couldn’t help but suspend disbelief like I had done so many times growing up, thinking just maybe the Memphis native would win the World title. In Memphis, a minor-league pro-sports graveyard, Lawler was our home team, so his quest to be champion of the world captured the imagination of many fans in the ’70s and ’80s, culminating with his AWA title win over Curt Hennig in 1988. (Nice touch last night showing a clip of the World title victory.)

Ironically, Monday’s bout was held in Philadelphia, a city Lawler routinely trashed in anti-ECW promos years ago, though this was a completely different audience. On this night, the Philly fans rallied behind the King—nowhere near the anticipation of a packed Mid-South Coliseum on a Monday night but definitely enthusiastic as Lawler sent both Miz and his crony, Alex Riley, crashing through tables at different points in the match. The only thing missing was Lance Russell or Jim Ross calling the action, but new RAW announcer CM Punk did an OK job of selling the possibility of Lawler rising to the occasion. (It was nice to hear the voice of ol’ Banana Nose in a pre-match video retrospective of Lawler’s career.)

By this time, Lawler was trending like crazy on Twitter, with several Memphis fans online tweeting for the King to “pull the strap down”—the sign of his Superman/Popeye comeback on many a Monday night. Several Memphis-based tweets were also calling for a fireball, a staple of Lawler’s offense over the years. (Personally, I was marking out over the possibility of a patented Lawler fistdrop off a ladder—a spot that never materialized.)

As Lawler slowly climbed the ladder, seemingly feeling every bump of his incredible 40-year career as he ascended each rung, the Philly fans pushed him on with their cheers. While there were several chants of “Miz is awesome” early in the bout, most were pulling for the King at the end. Just as it appeared Lawler finally had the WWE title literally in his grasp, his longtime RAW broadcast partner, Michael Cole, charged into the ring and grabbed his left leg. Turning his attention away from the WWE bling, Lawler confronted Cole, who begged off, claiming, “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it!” Never one to turn the other cheek, Lawler responded with a big right hand and followed up with a flurry of punches as the crowd popped.

Miz scurried up the ladder but Lawler cut him off. The two traded punches with the title dangling just over their heads. Miz conked Lawler between the eyes with his prized trophy, with the King taking the first and hopefully last bump off a ladder in his career. The young champ retained the title, while the legend maintained his dignity.

The angle’s objective appeared to be completing the gradual heel turn of Michael Cole, who will most likely be revealed to be the new RAW GM. I expect Punk will remain as announcer with Cole, who will “fire” Lawler as part of the storyline. Or perhaps Lawler stays on with Punk, as Cole constantly threatens the King’s job security. Cole, who has excelled at being wonderfully annoying with his heel comments praising Miz and criticizing Daniel Bryan, should flourish in his new role if in fact that’s the direction they’re heading.

Afterward, John Cena led the crowd in the singing of  “Happy Birthday to You” as WWE Divas presented him a cake.  On an evening when the company crowned its new King of the Ring tournament winner, Sheamus, to set up the return of Triple H (the so-called King of Kings), Jerry Lawler once again shined as wrestling’s true royalty on the big stage—fittingly, on a Monday night.

McMahon’s latest Mizstake? Mike “the Miz” Mizanin wins WWE championship

November 24th, 2010 2 comments

Mizery loves company: This little girl in Orlando was but one fan in the WWE Universe shooting daggers at the new champion Monday night. (Kevin Nash also pouted.)

Almost immediately after the Miz defeated Randy Orton for his first WWE championship during Monday’s RAW, Twitter nearly imploded, with fan reactions ranging from outraged to euphoric.

Former WWE title-holder Kevin Nash tweeted that Vince McMahon further exposed the business as being a work (like that’s even possible) for crowning the undersized Miz his new champion. (Nash, who has been angling for a mystery slot in the 2011 Royal Rumble, has since removed this tweet-what a pussy. Initial reports indicate that the ever-fragile Nash fractured his wrist while typing his original tweet.) Hours after his man-crush won the strap, Michael Cole was attempting a tweet but instead jerked off on his keyboard.

Despite the fact that every Money In the Bank winner had successfully cashed in the briefcase to become champion, most fans were surprised by the win (most notably a visibly upset demonic young girl in the audience who would spook Wednesday Addams). The Miz comes off as such a whiny prick, I believe most fans were convinced he’d be the first to fail when cashing in the contract.  (I’ve said this before, but they really need to change up the contract-cashing formula. Have the contract winner say he doesn’t want the unfair advantage-he wants to win the title upfront in the ring so the champ has no excuses when he loses. In Miz’s case, he could have challenged Randy Orton upfront for a bout the Rumble, saying he wants to do it on his own and that he doesn’t want a cheap victory after the champ has already competed. Then he and Alex Riley attack Orton the night of the Rumble in the parking lot, giving the Miz an unfair advantage and the win. Miz, of course, then crows about being a true champion who cashed in his contract ahead of time, giving Orton adequate time to prepare-no fluke, no excuses!)

Clearly, the Miz title win reflects the company’s commitment to focusing on youth (Mizanin just turned 30) and creating new main-eventers who fans will buy as being on the same level as established stars like Randy Orton, Triple H, John Cena, Edge and the Undertaker. Wade Barrett seemed poised to break through and clearly has the size that Vince McMahon loves (you know what I mean) but they are apparently hesitant to make him champion so soon. If Barrett keeps improving in the ring and on the mic (he’s already fantastic delivering a heel promo), he’ll be a top main-event star a year from now. It’s been a tough clique to crack in recent years, with the company constantly recycling matches on top, most notably the tired, boring feud between ‘Taker and Kane, a rivalry that seemingly will last until the end of eternity.

The ascension of the Mizanin from “Tough Enough” contestant to WWE champion seemed unlikely five years ago, as the Miz character was relegated to mostly comedy relief in the mode of Santino, seemingly destined to remain a career midcarder at best. Viewed as a reality-star outsider by most in the locker room despite his training and work in OVW, he was supposedly bullied unmercifully by guys like Bradshaw and Bob Holly, making his odds of ever breaking through the backstage politics to succeed even longer. But his drive, creativity and quick wit got him noticed, as he hit his stride teaming with John Morrison and producing their comedic Dirt Sheet report. Vince McMahon, who is frighteningly ignorant of pop culture nowadays, most likely loves the Miz’s promos, which are usually riddled with references to Hollywood stars, professional athletes, and the latest trends and fads. The Miz is a pop-culture creation itself, as the character was developed by Mizanin during filming of MTV’s “The Real World. ” When it comes to pop culture, nobody beats the Miz. Nobody.

Personally, I like the Miz. He’s the ultimate hipster-poseur-doofus between the age of 18 and 34-a desired target demographic of the WWE machine. He doesn’t fit the mold of past WWE champions-but with a company that’s desperately stale right now, that works in his favor. Nash knocked Miz, saying he looked more like a guy out of the audience rather than champion-fitting in a way, because Miz was indeed a longtime wrestling fan. As the ref raised his hand Monday, Miz closed his eyes in disbelief, achieving the dream every mark who ever cut a heel promo in his bathroom mirror. His promos are entertaining though often bordering on cheap, worthless heat like berating the local sports team. When he’s inspired, he’s one of the company’s most charismatic performers and clearly is tough as nails mentally to carry the load as champion short term. Still, I question if fans will buy him as, say, a WrestleMania main eventer. (Not that he’ll still be champion by then.) It all depends on how he’s booked from here. Recent booking history doomed Jack Swagger, who did several televised jobs right after cashing in his MIB contract to win the World title. Combined with his lisp,which was singled out during every televised exchange with a would-be challenger, Swagger never had a chance to get over as champion.

Miz has grown into a capable worker and his runs as tag and U.S. champion gave him some semblance of credibility heading into last Monday night. By all accounts, Miz shines at public appearances representing the company, which definitely escalated his push to the top. If he tweaks his promo style a bit and gets some solid wins under his pimpish-looking WWE bling belt, the Miz could be breath of fresh air on top. (At least until Triple H returns to knock him off.) Besides, chicken-shit, physically undersized heels  who can run their mouths have long been a successful staple of the industry.

As Jim Ross writes in his latest blog, “As for Miz being WWE Champion and specifically for all the naysayers, I suggest that you allow this matter to evolve more than just a few hours before damning it. Antagonist champions who are physically beatable on any given night and who have talented albeit annoying verbal skills are a nice persona traits for a successful champion to have.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.