WWE’s superstar The Miz will be on site this weekend at the Albany Civic Center.
ALBANY — Some descriptors fit perfectly with well-known athletes: “graceful” and Julius Erving, “menacing” and Dick Butkis, “flamboyant” and Dennis Rodman, “classy” and Derek Jeter, “obnoxious” and Pete Rose, “relentless” and Tiger Woods.
Then there’s “AWESOME,” which anyone who’s ever watched even one episode of WWE Wrestling knows, fits superstar Mike “The Miz” Mizanin like a second skin.
Plucked from the world of reality television by sports entertainment genius Vince McMahon’s wildly popular WWE wrestling madhouse and quickly honed into a brash, silver-tongued contender, The Miz proved to be so at home in front of the camera and such a quick study of the athletic elements of his sport that he found himself competing for championship belts almost immediately.
He won tag-team titles with such WWE luminaries as John Morrison, John Cena and the Big Show; and claimed the U.S., Intercontinental and eventually WWE championships to reach the upper echelon of sports entertainment superstardom.
“Sure, I dreamed about being a wrestler when I was a kid, but I never really thought that was something that would ever happen,” Mizanin said in an exclusive interview with The Albany Herald to promote WWE’s live event at the Albany Civic Center Sunday evening. “I figured I’d go off to college, get an education, come back to Parma, Ohio, and get a family and a job.
“Yeah, I was one of those kids who painted my face and ran around with streamers on my arms immitating the Ultimate Warrior. But I figured I’d end up trying to become a lawyer or a doctor. I didn’t dare dream of becoming a professional wrestler.”
The Miz quickly reached the top of the WWE heap when he cashed in a Money-in-the-Bank Match and defeated Randy Orton for the WWE title, which he held for almost half a year before being defeated in a title match by John Cena. Now The Miz is in a feud with Wade Barrett over the Intercontinental Championship. The two will square off at the Civic Center with the title on the line.
“Yeah, Barrett got lucky in our rematch, plus he got some help from Fandango, but I plan to get my belt back,” The Miz declared.
Other “Raw” and “Smackdown” superstars scheduled to appear at the Albany show include Sheamus, Mark Henry, “Big E” Langston with AJ Lee, the Great Khali, Sin Cara, the WWE Divas, and a triple threat World Heavyweight Championship match featuring Orton, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger.
Tickets for the event, which are on sale at the Civic Center box office, at all Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000, are available for as low as $15.
The Miz talked about the Civic Center showdown and his career during a one-on-one matchup with The Herald.
ALBANY HERALD: One of the things that I thought was cool that doesn’t really have to do with your wrestling career was your recent appearance on Nickelodeon’s “Kids’ Choice Awards.” I mean, I had my 11-year-old daughter telling me, “The Miz is hot!” How did that come about?
THE MIZ: I got a call asking me to be a part of the show, and that was a no-brainer for me. If they ask you to do something like that, you say yeah. I had an incredible time; it was really a cool experience. (Show host) Josh Duhamel turned out to be a really cool, down-to-Earth guy.
AH: OK, let’s get to the wrestling. You’ve got a rematch in Albany with Wade Barrett. What can we expect in that match?
MIZ: Wade got lucky in our rematch; Fandango interfering with his dancing cost me. So I demanded another rematch, and I plan to get my belt back.
AH: You guys in the WWE do what you do virtually 365 days a year. How physically exhausting is that?
MIZ: What we all go through is really quite amazing. There is no off-season for us. As long as the fans keep coming — whether they boo, cheer or whatever — that’s what keeps us going. We love giving them a moment they can take away from our matches.
AH: Fans are aware of your story, your reality TV appearances on “The Real World,” “Tough Enough,” “Fear Factor,” even “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?” Was there some kind of master plan to turn that into a WWE career, or did it just happen?
MIZ: I grew up as part of a huge family, and my plan was just to go to college, go back to Parma, Ohio, and get a family and a job. Being on “The Real World” (originally in 2001) made me realize I could do anything. But being a WWE superstar ... no way. Sure, I’d been a fan when I was a kid, but I had no idea this is something I’d be able to do.
AH: Albany is obviously a secondary market for you guys who wrestle regularly in venues like Madison Square Garden. I don’t think the fans are less passionate, though. So how do you put the same energy into a show here that you would at, say, MSG?
MIZ: We don’t consider anywhere we wrestle a small market. Fans pay their money to see a show, and they deserve the best show we can possibly give them. I don’t care if we’re in Boston; New York; Albany, Georgia; Macon, Georgia; or McDonough, Georgia, we all want to have the best matches we possibly can to give our fans that moment they come for.
AH: Your character is beloved for his cocky “awesomeness:” How much of that is the real you, and do you ever have a tough time leaving “The Miz” in the ring?
MIZ: The Miz is always part of me, especially when they turn on those cameras. But there are differences between Mike and The Miz. I may have trouble sometimes, but my fiancee knows how to turn The Miz off.
AH: I saw on “Raw” the other night that you got your first big movie role (in the WWE-produced “The Marine 3: Homefront”). Are you looking at that as an opportunity to maybe have a Dwayne Johnson/Rock movie career?
MIZ: Hey, the opportunity presented itself, and I jumped on it. I understand the DVD is doing fantastic, and I’ve since signed to do a holiday movie called “Christmas Bounty.” I’m not saying I’m ready to be the next Rock, but I am excited about these opportunities.
AH: You were WWE champ for half a year or so. What does winning championships like that do for your career?
MIZ: It’s what we do this for; we set out looking for opportunities to win championships. It has a financial impact, yes, but it’s more than that. Dreamwise, when you get involved in a sport you dream of championships. Once you’ve reached that level, you don’t want to stop.
AH: What does The Miz do when he gets time away from the ring?
MIZ: We travel all over the world, so when I get a little time off I like to sleep in my own bed, sit on my own couch and watch a movie on my own TV. I really like to use downtime to just enjoy myself at home.
AH: Wrestling fans expect you guys to always keep pushing the envelope, and as a result the action sometimes gets more and more dangerous. There have been serious injuries and even deaths in the ring. Is there a line where you say, “Hey, let’s back off and look at this thing?”
MIZ: Actually, the WWE does a great job of keeping us healthy. They’re very interactive with us with a wellness program, and they don’t encourage us to take unneccessary chances. Sure, we’re going to get our share of bumps and bruises, but they take care of us first. Like Dolph (Ziggler) got a concussion recently, and they’ve kept him out of action to make sure he’s OK before he goes back into the ring.
AH: Well, Miz, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk today. Continued good luck in your career, and keep bringing the awesomeness.
MIZ: You better believe it. And tell everyone in Albany, Georgia, that things are going to get insane in the Civic Center on the 23rd. The stars are going to be there, and we want that place jam-packed. Every wrestling fan has got to come on out.