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The Miz's long road to success leads to D.C. Saturday

The Miz will be among many top WWE Superstars at the Verizon Center for a taping of Monday Night Raw Saturday.
The Miz will be among many top WWE Superstars at the Verizon Center for a taping of Monday Night Raw Saturday. (Photo courtesy of WWE, Carroll County Times)

Today, Mike "The Miz" Mizanin is enjoying a rare day off. A week ago, the WWE Superstar was preparing to host his talk show segment, MizTV on the WWE's latest pay-per-view offering, and wrestle in a match later in the show. Then it was off to Philadelphia for Monday Night Raw, to Pittsburgh for a special live Smackdown episode Tuesday, then to Rochester, N.Y., for more television tapings Wednesday that will air on Christmas Eve.

After the holidays, it's back on the road Tuesday for one of the more than 300 live event performances throughout the year for WWE. On Saturday, The Miz will stop in Washington, D.C., where he and fellow wrestlers John Cena, CM Punk, Sheamus, the Big Show and others will tape an episode of Raw, the company's flagship program, at the Verizon Center. Typically, the 3-hour broadcast airs live at 8 p.m. on USA Network, but they'll tape the episode this week, since Monday is New Year's Eve. Then it's off to another taping Sunday in Richmond, Va., then another four days off before touring resumes Jan. 4.

And you thought your holiday travel schedule was brutal.

But for someone like the Miz, it's enough time off to make him stir-crazy. He's a man who likes to be busy. On Wednesdays, a typical off day for WWE wrestlers, he records a fantasy football show for SiriusXM. He recently wrapped filming of a WWE-produced movie, "The Marine: Homefront," and in the spring will begin filming on "A Christmas Bounty," for ABC Family. Last month, he traveled with other WWE Superstars to the Middle East to visit troops aboard the U.S.S. Stennis aircraft carrier. When the WWE needs someone to promote a show or event, they call on The Miz as their pitchman. He doesn't complain. He's hungry for success.

"That's what I've asked for," The Miz said in a phone interview while driving to Philadelphia. "I've asked to be a WWE Superstar, so to just sit here and complain about, 'Oh, I never get a day off, I'm so tired.' No. I want it. Give it to me. I want to be the biggest star WWE has ever created. So in order to do that I need to do everything."

Mizanin caught the attention of WWE executives after his role on MTV's Real World, in which he would channel his alter ego, "The Miz," an angry, amped-up version of himself that he thought would make a perfect pro wrestling character. He saw it as an opportunity to fulfill a dream of becoming a WWE Superstar and earned a development contract with the company. He worked hard and eventually earned a spot on the main roster, although not exactly in the role he envisioned.

The Miz debuted in 2006 as what he describes as "the Ryan Seacrest of WWE," acting as a host for various TV shows rather than a wrestler. It was a job he hated. When he got a chance to get in the ring, everything changed.

"Finally, they put me in the ring, I went undefeated for six months. It was an up-and-down battle, but finally [in 2011], I was in the main event of WrestleMania performing in front of 70,000 in a sold-out Georgia Dome and retained the WWE Championship," he said.

The Miz defeated John Cena to do that, with an assist from wrestler-turned-actor-turned-occasional wrestler again Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. During the build-up, despite being the company's champion, many fans thought of the Miz as the third wheel as the spotlight was firmly on the returning Rock and his war of words with Cena, the company's standard bearer. The Miz simply saw it as an opportunity.

"Anytime you are in the ring with the Rock or John Cena, you have to shine. You have to basically show what you got. And I think I did that," he said. "So whenever I got the microphone and got to be able to talk to the Rock or John Cena, I think I stood my ground and I think by the end of it, people weren't talking about the Rock or Cena, they were talking about the Miz. And I'm still talking about it to this day. The Miz retaining the WWE Championship, not once but twice, at WrestleMania 27. I mean, I made history that day. So I get to brag about that for the rest of my life and you will hear me brag about that for the rest of my life because it's something I'm proud of."

The braggadocios Miz has long been considered a rule-breaking heel or bad guy in the WWE ring, booed by the masses. However recently, fans have begun taking a liking to Miz's antics, making him a babyface, wrestling vernacular for a good guy.

"It's kind of weird because I've done nothing different. I'm still the same exact cocky, arrogant, egotistical person I was before, it's just now maybe the fans are starting to understand me and cheer me because, to me, I've never been a bad guy. I've always been a good guy," he said. "I've done what I've had to do to win like everybody else in the world, you know, when you want a job or a promotion, you go after it. And that's what I'm doing, I'm going after what I want. So that's what I've been doing and now I think the fans are actually getting behind it, saying, you know what, I like this guy. I know somebody like him. I'm a guy people can get behind if they understand me and I think they're starting to understand me."

Those fans -- Miz-fits, he likes to call them -- saw him go through an up-and-down 2012. He wasn't featured as prominently as the year prior, although he did film his first movie, improved his WrestleMania winning streak to 3-0, debuted his talk show segment MizTV, and won the Intercontinental Championship, a title a few notches below the WWE Championship he held the year prior. He plans to use the final Raw of 2012 as the launch pad for an even bigger 2013.

"I plan on going out with a bang. Dec. 29 Raw is coming to the Verizon Center and I plan on leaving 2012 with a statement," he said. "You have to leave with a statement you know? It's basically saying 2012 was pretty good, but 2013 is going to be an impactful year for the Miz."

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