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Chair Shots: An interview with WWE Superstar The Miz

WWE Superstar The Miz filmed his first movie in 2012, was the subject of a children's Christmas book, won the Intercontinental Championship, got his own talk show segment on WWE TV and ran his WrestleMania record to 3-0. Satisfied? Hardly.

In a phone interview with the Times conducted last week following the TLC pay-per-view, The Miz talked about WWE's return to the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., next Saturday, his vision for MizTV, his favorite WWE T-shirt, working with the Rock and John Cena and much, much more.

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Q: Let's talk about Raw coming up in Washington, D.C. What are your plans for the last Raw of 2012?

A: Well, 2012 has been an up and down year for the Miz, I filmed my first movie, I won the Intercontinental Championship, at WrestleMania I won once again, making my streak 3-0 - only 17 away from tying Undertaker's Streak, so that's pretty good. 2012 has been an up and down year; I expect 2013 to be even better. 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. 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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Q: Your story is pretty remarkable, from the Real World to WWE Champion. Can you talk about that journey, for people who might be unfamiliar with the story? How did you turn being on the Real World into becoming a WWE Superstar?

A: Absolutely. I started on the Real World Back to New York about 12 years ago. Yeah, it's been that long for people that watched the Real World. Then I also did a bunch of challenges after that. But after the Real World I basically said what do I want to do with my life? Do I want to continue doing reality shows for the rest of my life? Do I want to be a 40-year-old man doing challenges on MTV? I told myself, no, I don't. So I set out to be a WWE Superstar. I set out on the independent circuit for a while, trained there, and then finally I got on a show called Tough Enough, which is another reality show, but on this reality show you can win a WWE contract.

I didn't win, but I impressed the execs so much they gave me a developmental contract. The developmental contract gave me a year under the supervision of Bill DeMott and Al Snow. I worked down there and finally got brought up as the Ryan Seacrest of WWE. Yes, I had to be the host of Smackdown. I didn't like it. I hated it. But I'll do anything to get on the show. Finally, they put me in the ring, I went undefeated for six months. It was an up-and-down battle, but finally two years later, 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.

This has been a dream come true ... this is what I live for. It's not every day you get to perform in front of 20- 70,000 people.

Q: Who were some wrestlers you watched growing up that you drew on from inspiration when you decided to get into the business?

A: You know I always loved the Ultimate Warrior. Just his promos alone were absolutely amazing. Anytime a guy says 'Load the spaceship with the rocket fuel,' I mean, you're sitting there saying what? But as a kid, you're like, this guy is genius, this guy is the greatest thing ever. So I loved the Ultimate Warrior; I loved the Rockers. They were so fast and quick and agile and athletic, that I really enjoyed their tag team work, Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels, I mean, Shawn Michaels became the greatest of all time. So those are the people I watched growing up.

Q: I've always heard the travel schedule is pretty brutal for you guys. Do you have someone you travel with regularly and any good stories from the road?

A: I usually travel with people like Dolph Ziggler or Zack Ryder. We travel from town to town together, it's insane how much we travel and how much everyone gets along. Obviously you have tiffs with other people here and there, there's people you like, people you don't like, like any other business. But with travel, it's not like baseball, basketball or football where you get an offseason. We're non-stop 300 days a year traveling city to city, I mean, right now I'm driving to Philadelphia to do a show, and after that show in Philadelphia, I'm driving to Pittsburgh, Pa., to do another show, and after Pittsburgh, Pa., I'm going to Rochester, N.Y., to do another show. Then I fly back to Los Angeles for Christmas, the day after Christmas we have a show and then we go all the way up to Washington, D.C., at the Verizon Center. It's nonstop. We don't stop for holidays, we don't stop for an offseason, we go nonstop and that's why I love the WWE. I want to be interactive. I want to be doing these shows enjoying myself.

Q: I want to ask you about is this sort of change of heart you've had as of late on WWE TV. You were one of the most hated guys in the business and now, you seem to be becoming a fan favorite. Tell me about that and adjusting to getting the fans to cheer for you rather than boo you.

A: 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. 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.

Q: Let's talk about the MizTV segment for a little bit. How did that come about, and what are your thoughts on it so far?

A: My original plan for the MizTV was I wanted it to be different than any other talk show that's ever been done [in WWE]. My idea was I actually wanted it on the stage. I wanted it to be like a Brother Love/old-school Piper's Pit where they have a set and a stage, and that kind of fell through, they wanted it in the ring, I said, 'Fine, as long as I get MizTV.' I wanted it to be something where chaos ensues all the time. I was always a big fan growing up of the Jerry Springer Show. I didn't watch Ricki Lake or Oprah. I watched Jerry because, you know what, chaos always ensued. I wanted lie detector tests, I wanted paternity tests. I enjoyed that; that is what I enjoy. I wanted my show to just have trainwreck television with hard-hitting questions and getting answers out of people. And I want to mess with everybody - whether they are people that people love, or people that people hate, I wanted to mess with everybody and get into everything. On the Real World, that's exactly what I did. I mean, if you saw me, I wasn't always in the fight, I was the person who instigated the fight and then watch my creations fight. That's what I enjoy, I love doing that, even as a human being. So the Miz and MizTV, that's my playground, that's my setting to stir the pot, if you will.

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Q: Here's kind of an odd question for you -- the WWE marketing folks seem to churn out a ton of T-shirts every year for several WWE Superstars. With that in mind, of all the T-shirts you've had, do you have a favorite?

A: I would say, we always talk about where's your Austin 3:16 shirt, because the Austin 3:16 is one of the most memorable shirts of all time. We always joke around, Zack Ryder and Dolph Ziggler, we always say Zack Ryder's, his first Broski shirt, was his Austin 3:16. And right now, the "Haters Love Me" shirt is actually doing really, really well, but I always say my Austin 3:16 is my "Hello, I'm Awesome." That was the one that kind of started my elevation, and not only that, I was like No. 2 in T-shirt sales just under John Cena when that shirt was out. And now, right now, I'd say I'm probably at No. 3 or 4. Cena and Ryback are kind of going back and forth and then me and [CM] Punk kind of going back and forth for the three and four spot. So the "Haters Love Me" is doing really, really well, so I'm pretty proud of that.

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Q: You finished filming the Marine: Homefront a few months back, and I guess that is due out in 2013, right?

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A: It comes out early spring, and I'll also shooting the Christmas Bounty for ABC Family, and that will be coming out next Christmas, so I'm pretty excited about that. It's kind of a cool thing, when I did "The Marine 3: Homefront," I really got into it. I studied all these action heroes I grew up watching and that were even before my time, like I would watch Paul Newman in "Cool Hand Luke." I wanted to be this cool guy, this interesting character that didn't have to necessarily say much, but just with a glint of the eye or some sort of small thing that really make him interesting. I also watched Clint Eastwood in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," and I also watched Bruce Willis in "Die Hard," just these small interesting roles that made these Superstars become huge. So that's kind of what I got out of "The Marine 3: Homefront" and now for the "Christmas Bounty," I'm just really excited to dig into it, find the character and really get into it.

Q: What was that like and what were some of the challenges of being the main character in a movie versus being in a wrestling ring or doing a guest spot on a TV show?

A: Well, being a WWE Superstar, your body is aching and hurting at all times. On a movie set, your body is not aching and hurting. It's demanding, it's time consuming, especially when you're doing an action flick and you have a fight scene to do and you're trying to make the fight scene look as real as possible and make it look impactful and fun and interesting. It's just completely different. When you're a WWE Superstar, you're on the road nonstop. When you're a movie star, you're not on the road, you're in a hotel, you're staying in that hotel for maybe a month, you have a person at your beck and call, people come and drive you to wherever you need to be, that's not the WWE. I'm driving myself everywhere, all right? Then I'm getting in the ring, performing in front of 16,000 people, there's only one take on Monday Night Raw, there's only one take that you get and if you get it right, you're good. You get it wrong, the crowd is going to react to that. In the movie, you get 20 million takes. It's not simple, but compared to the WWE, it definitely makes it feel that way.

Q: Is that frustrating, the multiple takes?

A: No, I enjoy a new challenge, it's kind of why I enjoy doing the commentary on Main Event on Ion at 8 o'clock every Wednesday. WWE asked if I would like to commentate and I was like, absolutely, bring on any new challenges. I like to test myself. Whether people judge me and say I'm terrible at it or say I'm great at it, it's something I test myself each and every day and try to make myself better. If I feel like I'm horrible, you better believe I'm going to practice and make sure I'm going to be great at some time or another. And right now, I feel like I'm really hitting my stride with commentating, as well as WWE, as well as doing movies. That's what drives me, the challenge is what drives me.

Q: Christmas is right around the corner, and I know you were also the subject of Mick Foley's latest children's book, "A Most Mizerable Christmas." When did Mick pitch that idea to you and what did you think?

A: We were overseas and Mick Foley was doing his stand-up comedy routine ... and he came to one of the shows in Ireland and we had a verbal altercation if you will in the ring, and it came out great, and he came up to me and said, 'Listen, how would you feel if I put you in one of my books?' And I didn't know what he was talking about, I was like, 'that would be an absolute honor for me, because I've read all your books and each one is better than the next,' and I think he's a terrific author, and when he said, listen, not only that it's going to be a Christmas book, I was like, oh my God, it's gonna be children's story? Oh, this is even better. And then he goes, 'You're going to be the villain.' And I'm like what? Wait a second, I'm going to be the villain? I'm going to be the new Grinch? That's absolutely fantastic. And then he goes, but I think you're actually going to cry in the book. And I'm like c'mon Mick! C'mon man, you've gotta be kidding me.

But it's an incredible honor to be in "A Most Mizerable Christmas," and the book came out great, the sales are through the roof and I think every kid should pick up "A Most Mizerable Christmas," by Mick Foley, and it's not just because I'm in the book and the book is about me. It's because it's a great children's book and it has a great lesson for all the kids out there.

Q: WWE just taped Tribute to the Troops and I know you went overseas with Vince McMahon and some other Superstars recently to meet with some soldiers. What was that like?

A: It's always interesting with Mr. McMahon. He's my boss, you obviously want to impress him. But you're over there, we flew out to Bahrain we got to go on the U.S.S. Stennis which is an airship carrier that holds 5,000 of our troops. And these guys are at sea for two months at a time, they won't even see land. And it's amazing to watch that every individual on that ship has a distinguished job and every job is as important as the next, and it's amazing to see the teamwork and the unity that is involved in our armed forces. I mean, I was in a war zone and I felt absolutely safe with these soldiers protecting me. I always enjoy going overseas, going to Iraq and Afghanistan and Bahrain and into these warzones and seeing what these troops actually go through. You can watch the news all you want, you don't get to see the day in the life of a soldier until you actually go over there.

Q: The Rock is coming back at the Royal Rumble next month, and you had the opportunity to work with him quite a bit in 2010 leading up to WrestleMania that year. What was that like?

A: Growing up as a kid, not even as a kid, almost a teenager I guess you could say, The Rock was my favorite. The Rock was the reason I wanted to become a WWE Superstar. So to be able to work with someone like that, to be standing in the middle of the ring, that was his greatest moment with me, in his entire career.

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Q: That was his greatest moment you said?

A: Yes, that was his greatest moment to be in the ring, with me. (Laughs.)

Q: Back to the Rock and WrestleMania, you won that WrestleMania match, but I remember a lot of fans complaining that you seemed like the third wheel despite being WWE Champion. Did you ever feel that way?

A: 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. Some people said Miz is the third wheel in this story, but any time you are in the ring [with those guys] people are watching you, the ratings are up. If the ratings are up, more people are going to watch me and stay tuned to what I'm going to do. 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.

Q: With 2013 right around the corner and WrestleMania coming up in April, any thoughts on who you would like to face at this year's event?

A: I want to be in the main event. So at Royal Rumble, I plan on winning the thing and taking on whoever I have to do it. I had a taste of the main event and I want it back again.

Q: I figured you'd say the Undertaker, with you being undefeated at WrestleMania and all... .

A: I'd love a shot at the Undertaker. Streak vs. streak. He might have a little more than me, but he's had a little more time.

Q: You know, the wrestling schedule, doing 300 some shows a year, seems grueling enough, but you do a ton of media and promotions, you've done the movie, you've got the radio show on XM, which I love by the way ... how do you find the time for it all and do you ever really have a day off?

A: No, I never get a day off but that's what I've asked for. 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. And it's not like WWE was like, 'Hey, will you do this radio show?' I came to WWE and said, listen, SiriusXM offered me a radio show, let's do it, it's just another opportunity to show my talent, and I get to show off my talent in the fantasy football realm, even though this year I've been absolutely dreadful. I just lost in the playoffs and I'm so upset, it's not even funny.

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