The Miz's participation on Team Foley this Sunday at Survivor Series could be an audition to become the new John Cena.
Is Miz in any way the same size as Cena? No.
Does Miz sell as much merchandise as Cena? No.
Is he as polarizing as Cena? Not at all.
So, how then, can he possibly be auditioning to be the next Cena?
If he plays the role of baby face—and plays it well—in the traditional Survivor Series match, aiding his team in achieving victory, he could very well be on the way to a full-scale face turn.
World Wrestling Entertainment has to be bigger than John Cena.
He can't carry the company on his broad shoulders for the rest of his career. That's asking too much of one man. The fact that the WWE has relied on Cena to carry the company for so long is quite possibly the largest contributing factor to the quality of product having grown so stale.
Because he has been the face of the company for nearly a decade, it is almost impossible to keep him out of the main event picture for long. He's too big of a corporate icon to ever become a midcard. That's why you never see Cena fighting for the Intercontinental Championship—which he has never held—or the U.S. Title—which he hasn't held since March 2005.
Let that sink in for a minute: It has been more than seven years since the WWE last had Cena fight for a midcard belt.
The WWE is desperate for quality face characters. The roster is replete with heels: CM Punk, Paul Heyman, Alberto Del Rio, Big Show, Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry—who is due back soon—Tensai, Antonio Cesaro, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, David Otunga, Jack Swagger, Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre, Heath Slater, Hunico, Camacho, Darren Young and Titus O'Neil.
There are plenty of characters that are somewhere in that grey area between good and evil. Randy Orton and now Wade Barrett are just a couple. Additionally, Kane and Daniel Bryan, now known as Team Hell No, have both teetered between being villains and fan favorites.
Still there are plenty of guys on the roster who are good guys but lack the charisma and marketability to be a company guy: Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, Alex Riley, Brodus Clay, Evan Bourne, Justin Gabriel, Kofi Kingston and R-Truth, to name a few.
So, why Miz?
Simply put, he has all of the makings of a company guy.
Good looks: Check.
Unlike other stars who have ventured into other forms of entertainment for the betterment of their careers—whether it be the Rock as an actor or Chris Jericho with his band Fozzy—John Cena has always been about one thing: wrestling.
The same can be said of the Miz.
Miz used other media (MTV's Real World) as leverage to get himself an opportunity to wrestle and has made a career of it.
Additionally, he does all of the little things that have, in the past, been what defined Cena as the face of the company. He does all of the USO, Europe and Mexico tours, does house shows, and he often makes interview appearances on major late night shows (including Conan, Lopez Tonight, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel Live).
From a media standpoint, the WWE's use of the Miz in film cannot be overlooked. When it comes wrestlers on the active roster, they have typically featured guys who are committed to the company in their films, whether it be John Cena, Triple H and the Big Show or third-generation wrestlers with ties to Hall of Fame families that have a prominent fan following like Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase.
Not only was Miz given the feature role in The Marine: Homefront, this past year he has made cameo appearances in USA television series Psych and the motion picture comedy The Campaign (starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis). Additionally, you can expect to see him in the lead role of an ABC Family original movie, Christmas Bounty.
Two factors to note here: (1) ABC Family is part of the Disney–ABC Television Group and (2) it is a Christmas movie—not exactly the type of movie that you'd expect for a company heel.
A large part of his mass appeal and marketability stems from the fact that he was a fan just like the rest of us. Everyone knows his story and can relate to his passion to see his dream of wrestling become reality.
Let us not forget, should he turn face, that this will not be the first time that the Miz has been a likable character. He was once part of the very likable, title-holding Morrison and Miz tag team.
He may not be the best technical wrestler, but he has proven himself to have all of the necessary tools and qualities to be THE guy.
All of the signs for the face turn are there.
The Miz offering his hand in a gesture of respect to Kofi Kingston (although he was spurned), quitting Team Ziggler to later join Team Foley, the slow change in his demeanor from a whiny superstar who would complain when he lost to a man who goes out in the ring, does his job and then walks backstage.
Underneath all of the trappings of the Sheamus/Big Show feud, the Cena and AJ "scandal," Ryback's rise to dominance and the CM Punk reign of un-respected tyranny, the WWE has slowly been working the Miz angle through his continued feud with Kofi Kingston over the Intercontinental Championship.
It has been a very subdued and subtle storyline, but it has been there.
Now, almost suddenly, he is the face of Survivor Series. As if this pay-per-view is all about him. He is on the poster...and he is the promotional video. From a marketing standpoint, it's as if the WWE were making the PPV all about The Miz.
In the story leading up to this Sunday's match, Mick Foley has shown he is willing to give him a chance [on Team Foley]. Kofi Kingston, however, is still leery.
Hopefully we can put our differences aside for this Survivor Series match, but anyone who’s been watching Miz and me over the past few weeks knows this is going to be difficult. I don’t trust him, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
As to whether this is a legitimate face turn and he transcends to that next level, we will all have to take the same outlook as Kofi, "wait and see."
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