Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin: The man behind the WWE superstar
His real name is Mike Mizanin and while some might remember that face from MTV’s once-hit reality show The Real World, more will be familiar with it from the ring as a wrestling superstar of the phenomenally popular WWE. At the end of the day, entertainment is his game and it suits him well.
Sport360° met up with The Miz during his Abu Dhabi promotional tour ahead of WWE’s return to town in October – even sampling a signature Miz wrestler’s fitness session.
Before you got involved with WWE, what was your life like?
I’m originally from Parma, Ohio, a nice, ordinary city. Had a lot of great friends, it was cool. [Back then] I did a lot of sports – I used to be in baseball, basketball, cross country, I swam a year, played football a year… but as a kid, I just loved it [the WWE].
My favourite wrestlers growing up were The Ultimate Warrior, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, and then in the 90s it was The Rock. You’re still in touch with your old friends.
How are they taking your star status?
They love it. I’m actually going back to Cleveland next week and they want tickets, they’re excited. They’re always so supportive. I have the best friends in the world. It’s been 13, 14 years since we graduated and we still talk everyday, and that’s something you don’t get.
What inspired your character?
There were so many Mike’s [where I’m from] so my friends ended up calling me Miz (after my last name, Mizanin). ‘The Miz’ is Mike at 100 per cent.
Like you’ve got a radio dial turned up to 100?
That’s ‘The Miz’. I wanted to be a person that was relatable but also that you can hate and love at the same time. I feel like I’ve done that to a T.
What’s your relationship like with the other guys on the tour?
It’s like any other job, you’re friends with some people, acquaintances with others. I’m pretty close with Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder, Chris Jericho, Christian, CM Punk. Sure we hang out outside of work. But we have our own things going on too, we’re all from different cities.
Our training session was tough! What happens just before a big show?
A lot of that involves eating right. If I eat right I can lean out real quick. Number one is I don’t drink at all (before an event), and I consume a lot of proteins, less carbs, at least avoid them late at night (and if I am eating any it’ll be a lot of sweet potatoes, multi grain stuff, I have oatmeal in the morning).
What we do, you can’t be really thin, you’ve got to have that “fat” on your skin because we’re taking bumps. At the same time you can’t just be a big, jacked guy, you have to be an athlete. So I try to do different workouts. I work on a little bit of everything about four days a week – one day chest and shoulders, another day arms and back, another abs, then legs, then I also add a cardio day at SoulCycle.
Cardio leans me up, and sometimes when I’m feeling fat the SoulCycle sessions make me feel skinny because you get such a great sweat from it. After SoulCycle I am drenched, I have 3-4lbs of water just coming off me, which is great.
Say we don’t have access to a gym and we really want to work out, which happens all the time on tour… In that case, sometimes we come up with stupid games, like grab a deck of cards and say a Spade represents squats, a Diamond Burpees… and the number on the card represents the repetitions.
What’s cool about the Abu Dhabi tour?
Oh, I love it. Every time we come the people are so amazing, so friendly. As soon as I checked into my room at this hotel [Park Rotana], they knocked on my door and gave me a big bunch of sweets. I was like ‘thanks, I can’t eat it but I appreciate it’.
What’s your preferred cheat meal then?
Cheeseburgers for sure.
What sort of emotions go through you when ‘performing’? Does this job come with a lot of pressure?
Always. Whenever you have to perform in front of 30,000 people live, and you only get one take… that’s a tremendous amount of pressure, especially for me because I’m all about perfection. But that’s what we thrive off of.
When I’m backstage I am nervous, I have butterflies in my stomach, knots in my throat… but once my music hits and I enter that arena, see the crowd cheering or booing or whatever they’re doing, it ignites me and it allows everything to go away and I just feel at ease.
What do you do when you have time off?
Time off? Excuse me? We don’t have an off season, but if I ever do have a day to myself, I’m watching TV with my fiancée, my dog and two cats.
What TV are you watching?
Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Dexter, Ray Donovan, Arrested Development, House of Cards, and Orange is the New Black.
WWE sends you guys out for charity work and school visits too. What’s the message?
The main event I like to do is the ‘Be A Star’ event where we’re saying ‘Don’t be a bully, be a star’. We realise what we do is entertainment, a TV show, Hollywood. But what kids go through is reality. There’s a huge epidemic worldwide of bullying (cyber bullying too is huge nowadays), so we’re trying to nip that one [in the bud] and motivate and teach kids how to prevent it.
I also like to motivate them to follow their dreams because I wouldn’t be where I’m today if I didn’t have that support. You said at 32 you still feel like a million bucks and won’t be retiring for years to come.
What will you do then?
Nothing! I want to sit on my butt and do nothing all day. Ever see the movie Office Space? That’s what I want to do.