Mike “The Miz” Mizanin Always Fights For The Underdog

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Mike Mizanin—more commonly known by his World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) ring name, The Miz—has a bigger brand than Blake Griffin, twice as many championships as Kobe Bryant and a fanbase that eclipses many NBA veterans. However, despite his success and larger-than-life personality, he still feels he has more in common with the underdogs, including his billed hometown’s humble Cleveland Cavaliers. With his trademark wit, the TV host, Hollywood actor and reality show contestant can go on endlessly about the good old days of Mark Price and Magic Johnson tearing up the court (not that he pulls any punches with regards to the team’s more recent goings-on). He told us what he thinks it’ll take for his beloved Cavs to win a championship, which NBA player is a huge WWE fan and how to get jacked like a Superstar wrestler.

 
 

BALLnROLL.com: What’s your basketball background?

The Miz: In high school, I was the captain of baseball and cross country, but I did play basketball. My freshman year playing basketball in Normandy High School, I played on JV. On my sophomore year, I was moved up to varsity for the playoffs. My junior year, I got cut from the team. How do you get cut from the team when you were on varsity the year before? I get back to my house and my dad, he said, “Well, I almost got in a fight with your coach last year because of how stupid he is.” In other words, I get cut from the team because of my dad. So that year, I had a year off. The next year, the coach gets fired and there’s a new coach. I try out for the team, guess who’s on the team now? I made the team again. So, obviously I could sit there and say it was my dad’s fault, but legit, it was my dad’s fault! I was always a shooting guard, and I loved basketball. It’s probably my favourite sport to play just because I always enjoyed it. I’m actually building a half-court in my yard right now.

BnR: Who were your favourite players?

TM: I was into Magic Johnson when I was growing up, because everyone else was for Michael Jordan and I’m a person that goes against the grain. Magic Johnson and Mark Price were my guys. I was always a Cleveland Cavaliers fan. Mark Price was the man back then. As well, I was a huge fan of Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

BnR: How did your early basketball roots and fondness for the game transition into wrestling?

TM: I’ve always been a competitive person. I remember my hard work on that court always paid off. I was always the first person at practice, the last one to leave. Any time we had to do ladders (which are hell for all basketball players), I was always the first one done with mine. I was always practicing my foul shots, doing layups left and right, making sure everything was perfect. I wasn’t a person that was born with talent. I had to earn my talent. That’s the way it is with WWE. You have to earn your way up, you have to work hard and dedicate yourself, and there’s a ton of sacrifice that goes through with it.
 
 

BnR: I know you’re a tough guy, so I hope you’re ready for some tough questions about the Cavs—

TM: I’m ready man! Dude, are you kidding me? I’m a Cleveland guy, and you want to talk about the Browns, the Cavs, the Indians? I got it. Bring it!

BnR: Okay, well they’re not well-known for getting too many championship titles. So there must be a strong draw for you somewhere in there. What keeps you coming back to the Cavs?

TM: I root for the underdog, always have, always will. I was the underdog in the WWE, nobody thought I would make it, but I did. And I really feel that in Cleveland, we’re the underdogs. LeBron took his talent to South Beach; the Browns, we fired our head coach in a year; the Indians make the playoffs for the first time and then lose. We’re always known to never make the championships, but I feel like one year we’re going to do it, all three teams, same time. It looks like Cleveland is building [toward] something. Kyrie Irving is a very good player, Tristan Thompson—I actually did a Cleveland Cavaliers WWE night about a week ago and I was talking to him. He’s a huge WWE fan. I say, “Where you from?” He says, “From Toronto.” I said, “So, growing up, you actually wanted to be a Toronto Raptor?” He said, “Absolutely.” I was like, “Are you kidding me?” And I guess the same thing goes for people in Cleveland. If you grow up in the Cleve, you want to be a Cleveland Cavalier and people are like, “Really? You want to be a Cleveland Cavalier?”

BnR: Speaking of Kyrie Irving, there are rumours that he might make like LeBron James and leave the team—and boy do we we know LeBron leaving is something you’re still sore about.

TM: You know, [Irving] wouldn’t be the first person that did that, but I want to meet the guy that literally says “I’m going to bring a championship here.” I thought LeBron was that guy. Everyone believed in him. LeBron brought it, he was so much fun. He was action-packed. The Cavs were always sold out. Everyone wanted to watch him. They made it all the way up to the championship games, but they just couldn’t get all the way there—and then LeBron leaves. It was one of those things where he left and we all just said, “Oh my God, I can’t believe this just happened.” Then Kyrie comes in, but we’re not doing as well as when LeBron was there. I can see the frustration from other players and Kyrie with being on the Cavs. The thing is, it just takes time to develop. This is a young, young team.

 
 

BnR: What can the team improve on?

TM: It’s about finding that right rhythm. That’s basically what I’m waiting for. I’m hoping that the players and the coaches will all be patient. That’s the biggest problem that Cleveland has, whether it’s football, baseball or basketball. We want it now. We want to win now. So, we don’t allow players to really develop that chemistry and develop with one another. We’re too busy trading and getting rid of players. This is what [the Cleveland Cavaliers] need to do: they need to stick together, get a team—five, six or seven players they can rotate in and out—and really perform well with one another. I think there will be a very, very good team.

BnR: That impatience is hard to let go of in the NBA and among NBA fans. Let’s talk about history instead. Sure, the Cavs might not have a championship title yet, but what’s your all-time favourite Cleveland moment?

TM: You know, my favourite moments are always the ones where I got to go to the games and watch. I remember watching Mark Price, [John] “Hot Rod” [Williams], Brad Doherty, Craig Ehlo—it was so much fun watching those teams play when we wore the royal blue and orange. I know a lot of people will [talk about the playoffs], but mine are always personal, like going with my dad to a basketball game and watching Mark Price hit a 3. Those are the kinds of things that come away for me.

BnR: You touched briefly on WWE night at the Cavaliers, which you attended with fellow WWE wrestler Dolph Ziggler. How did that go?

TM: People were allowed to dress up as their favourite WWE Superstar. I mean, I saw someone dressed up as me, someone dressed up as Zach Ryder, someone dressed up as John Morrison. I saw Macho Man. It’s a lot of fun when WWE night comes to the Cavs.

Photo: @Cavs/Twitter 
 

BnR: Did you two dress up as different wrestlers?

TM: No, I’m going to dress up as The Miz, you kidding me? The most must-see WWE Superstar of all time! [laughs]

BnR: Wrestlemania XXX is coming up April 6. What does your daily workout look like as you prepare?

TM: I usually work out four to five days a week. I try to hit every body part twice a week. There are many muscles in the shoulders, different ones every other day or something like that. My workouts change because, let’s face it, when you work out the same workout for a while, your body just adapts to it. You need to keep changing your workout. So, this week I have a lot of negatives in my workouts, which means if I’m doing a bench press, when it comes down, I’ll take five seconds to get down, and then pop up real fast and hard. You do that probably 12 times. The next set, I’ll put my hands a little wider or closer just to hit a different body part.

BnR: What kind of diet are you following to support your fitness regimen?

TM: I’m working towards cutting myself up rather than being bigger. I’ve been on a diet now for the past week, and it’s just been hell for me. I’m doing 10 egg whites in the morning, a half-cup of oatmeal and an apple. Second meal is one 6.5-oz packet of tuna, four rice cakes and 23 almonds. Yes—23, not 24. The third meal is 40 grams of protein and half a cup of oatmeal. Fifth meal is a six-ounce chicken breast, sixth meal is a six-ounce chicken breast or fish and the seventh meal is basically 40 grams of protein. It’s high-protein and low-carb, but it’s enough carbs for what I’m building for.

BnR: You got engaged to WWE Diva Champion and glamour model Maryse Ouellet last February. With Valentine’s Day coming up, guys need dating advice more than ever: what should guys look for in a great relationship?

TM: What I was most attracted to about her was that not only was she beautiful, but she’s very strong-minded and very opinionated. I didn’t want a girl that was like, “Okay, I’ll do whatever you want, blah, blah, blah,” I wanted a girl that had her own choices, her own motivations, that didn’t just want to coast off my success. [Ouellet] already had her own successes. That’s what I love about her, she’s a person I can be comfortable around.

 
 

BnR: The average guy might feel a little intimidated approaching beautiful, smart and successful women he thinks are out of his league. What does he need to do?

TM: I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you advice I was given when I first started WWE. I got drafted to ECW [Extreme Championship Wrestling]  and the writer goes, “I want you to read this book, and I want you to portray this character.” I read The Game:[Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists] by Neil Strauss. They wanted me to be Mystery, basically a lady’s guy. This book taught you how to pick up girls, and I never thought it’d work, but it does. The first thing it taught you was as soon as you see a girl that you like, go up to her and start talking to her. Do not wait a second, because as soon as you wait a second you start denying yourself. That actually gave me the confidence to basically be able to talk to any girl at any time, anywhere. With Maryse, it was just kind of coincidental because she was in the WWE Diva Search. I was one of the casting people as well as the host. I can remember being [on a] plane—and she’ll tell this story, too—and I’m surprised she didn’t smack me. At the time, she didn’t speak English, she only spoke French. So, I’m sitting next to her in a plane trying to talk to her, and I’m like, “Oh my God, talking to you is like talking to a wall.” She’ll never let me live this down, but I guess I told her that. There was always that initial connection with her and I.

BnR: Is there anything else you’d like to throw in we haven’t talked about?

TM: WWE’s doing something that’s never been done, and that is the WWE Network, coming out Feb. 24, 2014. It’s online streaming, kind of like Netflix and Hulu, and it’s available on any mobile device. We’re so into it that we’re [making its] first pay per view Wrestlemania XXX, which is absolutely huge. You’re also going to have 300 pre-existing pay per views that are already on there that you can go back and watch. When I heard this whole thing, I want it. I’m a WWE Superstar, and I want it just so I can go back and watch all my matches.

BnR: Thanks for joining us! Follow The Miz on Twitter for more Cavs-related tweets as he prepares for Wrestlemania XXX.

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