By Will Pruett
How great has The Miz become over the past 12 months? Let’s all take a moment and reflect on the revitalization of a character most of us had written off. I actually had a few moments where I regretted enjoying Miz in the year 2010, thinking I was somehow the cause of his face becoming “The Moneymaker” and him being the most obnoxious (but not in a good way) part of WWE TV. It turns out, 2010 me was right and 2016 me is as well.
It’s tempting to say The Miz’s rebirth is solely the cause of Smackdown (as Smackdown is creative magic currently), but it isn’t. Ever since he captured the Intercontinental Championship on the night after WrestleMania 32, The Miz has been delightful. Pre-brand split, he was hidden a little in the Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens feud. Miz provided a place for this feud to function and function it did.
After the brand split, Miz quickly became one of the cornerstones of Smackdown. Had I heard this in 2015, I would have assumed I’d hate it. Good thing 2015 me was super dumb.
Miz and Maryse are currently involved in an immensely entertaining feud with Dean Ambrose and, by proxy, Renee Young. This was on full display as Miz and Ambrose bookended the show together. Young plays the innocent and sympathetic human caught in the crosshairs of a devious awful couple really well. Ambrose’s angry boyfriend persona fits him better than most other things he’s tried. It all fits.
More than anything else, The Miz has actually made the Intercontinental Championship feel important and made whatever feud is occurring for it the second most important thing on Smackdown. This is really impressive. It’s a title I didn’t think mattered for almost a decade. Now, it suddenly seems important.
This importance is amplified when former WWE Champions are feuding for it. Ambrose winning the Intercontinental Championship here surprised me, but not in a bad way. I don’t know where these two go from here, but I assume they’ll be paired through the Royal Rumble. This is good for both men. Ambrose is made better by The Miz.
And now for some random thoughts:
– AJ Styles and John Cena are magic together and they have been since the first time they shared the ring. This contract signing (a segment I’m quite tired of) was perfect. Cena was his serious best self. Styles was his arrogant best self. I had no idea AJ could be this compelling of a character a year ago. I knew John Cena could but didn’t know if he had any foils left. They’re delightful.
– Smackdown continues to use the entirety of their women’s roster to (mostly) great effect. The feud between Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch is still going strong. The latest twist with La Luchadora is intriguing. Nikki Bella and Natalya are having a “meh” feud with Natalya explaining herself and trying to be edgy too often. Carmella is getting a featured role that is intriguing. Smackdown has a small roster, but is getting the most out of it (and the most out of featuring guests). I’m really impressed with this dedication to featuring female talent, even when not all of it is good.
– Really though, Natalya and Nikki Bella’s promo segment was problematic at best. WWE would be better off to let Nikki and John’s relationship discussions be reality show exclusive.
– Speaking of problematic, I wonder what the Carmella and James Ellsworth relationship will lead to. If the idea is enhancing Carmella’s character as a devious jerk, I like it. If it’s for another weird empty wrestling relationship, I’m not about it.
– A followup promo with American Alpha would have been better than the match against Fandango and Tyler Breeze. I’ll echo Jason Powell by saying Breeze and Fandango could be a great heel tag team if WWE would let them.
– Speaking of followup, Baron Corbin got a major spotlight for the second week in a row. I liked seeing Baron get a chance to impress. I don’t like the idea of Baron Corbin doing anything with Kalisto again, but it seems like that isn’t their future. Corbin vs. Cena should be a fun test.
– Dolph Ziggler finally snapping on Kalisto and Apollo Crews delighted me. Ziggler’s been a tired protagonist for a while, but he could be a very good antagonist. I especially enjoy the way Ziggler’s character is changing because of his circumstances. This is something we don’t see enough of in wrestling.
– Next week’s show looks just delightful.
Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? Hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @wilpruett, leave a comment, or email me at email@example.com.