REVIEW: WWE SUPERSTARS THE MIZ
I am a longtime fan of the WWE -- long enough to remember when Hulk Hogan ruled the roost and it was still called the WWF. I remember the "Attitude" Era, the "Monday Night Wars" against WCW, and much more. And I still enjoy watching RAW and SmackDown on a weekly basis.
What I haven't done, for whatever reason, is collect the action figures, and there's certainly been no shortage of them over the years. I can't really explain why. I suppose it was just that I had other priorities. Perhaps I simply preferred to bring in super-heroes, G.I. Joes, Transformers, and Masters of the Universe instead of wrestlers.
Certainly there's been plenty of WWE action figures over the years, and I've had a few here and there. Hasbro crafted a rather amusing line of rather exaggerated figures for a time. Later, Jakks Pacific had a very lengthy run. And more recently, Mattel has been the primary licensee for the WWE.
I recently decided to have a closer look at Mattel's product. Certainly, their merchandise has a significant spot in any toy department. Anything that takes up as much room as it does is likely worth some consideration.
Mattel's most basic figures are presented on a card that is primarily white with red trim, with a photograph of the individual on it. It's generally known as the "Superstars" line, even though certain assortments may have a sub-heading of some sort. Just about any currently active WWE Superstar is a contender for it, even as Mattel maintains an "Elite" line, as well as some other collectible series, and a number of figures with various action features.
For the most part, I liked what I saw with the "Superstars" line -- including the price tag. The worst thing I could say about any of the figures is that some of them didn't have the best likenesses in the world, or for whatever reason, were given rather quirky facial expressions. It's one thing for a WWE Superstar to look determined or angry. It's another thing for him to look like he's got some sort of intestinal distress.
One of the figures I decided to pick up is of an individual whose entry into the WWE is certainly one of the more unusual ones, and he has certainly gone on to considerable heights within the company. He's known as -- THE MIZ!
Let's consider some of the history of the real-life WWE Superstar Miz, and then have a look at his action figure.
Michael Gregory "Mike" Mizanin, better known by his ring name The Miz, is a professional wrestler, reality television star, media personality, announcer, and actor signed to WWE. Mizanin first gained fame as a cast member on MTV's The Real World: Back to New York, which first aired in 2001, and its spinoff series, Real World/Road Rules Challenge. He later entered the fourth season of Tough Enough, a televised competition that would award the winner a WWE contract, and became the first runner-up. Mizanin has also made appearances on television shows including Battle of the Network Reality Stars, Fear Factor, Identity, Ghost Hunters, Dinner: Impossible, Psych and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?. Mizanin trained and wrestled with Ultimate Pro Wrestling and Deep South Wrestling, where he became the first Deep South Heavyweight Champion. Mizanin was sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), working in tag team matches and winning the tag team title, the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship, on one occasion.
After signing with WWE, Mizanin made his wrestling debut in September 2006, as a villain who went undefeated. In 2007, was drafted from SmackDown to the ECW brand, where he formed a partnership with John Morrison, in which the two held both the WWE Tag Team Championship and the World Tag Team Championship. He was drafted to the Raw brand as part of the 2009 WWE Draft, and won the WWE United States Championship on two occasions. He also won WWE Unified Tag Team Championship with The Big Show and the WWE Tag Team Championship with John Cena.
In July 2010, he won a Money in the Bank ladder match at the first WWE Money in the Bank pay-per-view, earning a contract for a WWE Championship match, which he used in November to win the WWE Championship, which he held for six months. In 2011, The Miz was ranked number one on Pro Wrestling Illustrated's annual PWI 500 list. In 2012, The Miz captured WWE Intercontinental Championship, which made him the 25th Triple Crown Champion and 17th Grand Slam Champion of the company. On October 3, 2012, The Miz was named as an announcer for WWE Main Event, which airs on Ion TV -- which at the moment I don't get on my Cable system, darn it.
The Miz, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, attended Normandy High School, where he was the captain of the basketball and cross country teams. He also participated in swimming, the student government and was the editor of his high school yearbook.
Mizanin dropped out of college, where he was pursuing a degree in business in order to appear on the tenth season of MTV's reality television program The Real World in 2001. He went on to appear in multiple seasons of its spin-off series, Real World/Road Rules Challenge, along with contestants from both Road Rules and The Real World, including Battle of the Seasons, The Gauntlet, The Inferno, Battle of the Sexes 2, and The Inferno 2. Except for Battle of the Sexes 2, Mizanin made it to the end of all the Challenges on which he competed and won both Battle of the Seasons and The Inferno 2.
It was during an episode of The Real World that Mizanin first displayed an alter ego known as "The Miz". In contrast to Mizanin's usually placid demeanor, The Miz was angry, combative, and headstrong. Mizanin later realized that "The Miz" would make an excellent professional wrestling gimmick.
Pursuing the goal of becoming a professional wrestler which he had harbored from an early age, Mizanin joined Ultimate Pro Wrestling (UPW), where he trained in the Ultimate University. He made his in-ring debut in 2003 as the Miz. During his time with UPW, the Miz competed in UPW's Mat War's tournament, making it to the finals before losing to Tony Stradlin.
In October 2004, Mizanin entered the fourth season of Tough Enough, a televised competition which would award the winner a World Wrestling Entertainment contract. Despite coming last in an arm wrestling tournament on November 25, 2004, Mizanin outlasted six other wrestlers, and made it to the final round. At the pay-per-view event, Armageddon, Mizanin faced the other remaining entrant, Daniel Puder, in a three round "Dixie Dogfight" boxing match. Neither man achieved a knockout, and the contest was awarded to Puder on the basis of crowd reaction. On the December 16, 2004 episode of SmackDown!, Puder was announced as the winner of Tough Enough.
Despite losing the Tough Enough contest, Mizanin had piqued the interest of WWE, and he was eventually offered a developmental contract. Mizanin was sent to Deep South Wrestling (DSW) to train.
On March 7, 2006, WWE's official website featured a video of "The Miz" stating that he was headed to SmackDown. The Miz appeared exclusively to SmackDown as a villainous persona, starting his in ring competition with win over Tatanka in a September 2006 episode of SmackDown.
Miz was drafted from SmackDown! to ECW on June 17, 2007 as part of the 2007 Supplemental Draft. He was absent from the first few weeks of ECW, though he was the subject of backstage mentions between matches and had several short Miz TV Crashes ECW video segments. He made his debut on the July 10 episode of ECW in a match against Nunzio, which he won.
On the November 16 episode of SmackDown, he became one half of the WWE Tag Team Champions with John Morrison when they defeated Matt Hardy and Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) in a title match, which gave the Miz his first title within the company.
In February 2008, Miz and Morrison were given a streaming segment on the WWE website named The Dirt Sheet in which they mocked other wrestlers and facets of pop culture, showing off their promo skills. Morrison and The Miz co-wrote each episode of The Dirt Sheet each week. As the duo continued to hold the titles, WWE downplayed the angle of Miz and Morrison disliking each other, and portrayed them as friends. The team had many successful title defenses over the next few months, before dropping the championship to Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder at the Great American Bash.
On July 18, 2010, at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, The Miz won a Money in the Bank ladder match to win a contract for a WWE Championship match that he could utilize at any time over the next year.
On the November 22 episode of Raw, following a successful WWE Championship defense by Randy Orton against Wade Barrett, he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to become the new WWE Champion. He successfully defended the championship against Jerry Lawler in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match on the following episode of Raw, and again at the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view in December by defeating Randy Orton in a Tables match.
In February 2011, the night after Elimination Chamber, The Miz and John Cena were paired together to challenge Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater for the WWE Tag Team Championship. The Miz and Cena were successful in winning the titles, but lost them back to Corre immediately afterward in a rematch, after The Miz turned on Cena. On April 3 in the main event of WrestleMania XXVII, The Miz successfully defended the WWE Championship against Cena.
On July 23, 2012, at Raw 1000, Miz defeated Christian to win his first Intercontinental Championship. With this, Miz also became the 25th Triple Crown Champion and 17th Grand Slam Champion in WWE history. Four days later on SmackDown, Miz successfully defended his title against Christian in a rematch. At SummerSlam, Miz defeated Rey Mysterio to retain the Intercontinental Championship. At Night Of Champions, Miz successfully defended the Intercontinental Championship in a Fatal Four Way match against Cody Rhodes, Rey Mysterio, and Sin Cara. From September, Miz started hosting the "MizTV" talk show. On the October 17 episode of WWE Main Event, Miz lost the Intercontinental Championship to Kofi Kingston.
Although portrayed as a villain, or "heel", for the entirety of his career, recently Miz has increasingly become a fan favorite, even though his attitude remains highly cocky, egotistical, and arrogant. On the November 11 episode of Raw, The Miz was added to Mick Foley's Survivor Series team to compete against Dolph Ziggler's team, starting a feud with Ziggler. On the November 19 edition of Raw The Miz defeated David Otunga in a singles match. He continued to feud with Ziggler, when he mocked Ziggler's on-screen girlfriend AJ Lee. This led him to a match against Ziggler on 28 December edition of Smackdown which ended in a losing effort. Miz teamed up with former rival Kofi Kingston to defeat Wade Barrett and Antonio Cesaro on December 24 edition. He then teamed with another former rival John Cena to win against Team Rhodes Scholars on December 31, the last Raw of 2012. He then entered a feud with Antonio Cesaro, after Cesaro disrespected the USA.
So, how's the figure? Really excellent. I am finding that one of the best ways to evaluate these WWE figures is how much they look like their real-life counterparts. And the Miz figure is excellent. The headsculpt is right on the money. The only somewhat surprising aspect of it is that the face has a rather serious expression on it. This strikes me as rather odd for two reasons. First of all, there's no shortage of WWE figures that have somewhat quirky facial expressions. Secondly, if anyone in this line would likely have a smarmy, smart-alecky grin on his face, it would be The Miz. And yet, he doesn't.
This is not a complaint. I'm impressed with the sculpt It looks like The Miz, it has his rather intense stare, his distinctive hairstyle with the hair combed up in the center, and is really an overall excellent likeness. I'm just a little surprised by the expression, especially relative to some of the other more extreme examples in the line.
Another thing that impresses me about the WWE line is that the bodies are crafted to the individual. I haven't seen a lot of reuse of major body segments here. And while The Miz, like most of the competitors in the WWE, has a well-proportioned and muscular build, you're not going to find the sort of super-heroic physiques here that you might in Mattel's DC Universe or Masters of the Universe lines. These are real people, whatever sort of characters they might play within the WWE, and the figures reflect that.
Miz stands about 6-3/4" in height. This seems to be about average for the WWE line, which does adjust the heights of figures relative to the heights of the actual individuals compared to one another. Of the figures that I currently have, Miz is about the same height as John Cena, and both are slightly shorter than Sheamus.
Miz doesn't have any tattoos, so Mattel was spared any major imprinting needs on the main body of the figure. Don't worry, they got plenty of practice on the likes of Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, and CM Punk. However, Mis does have fairly ornate trunks and boots, which required the procedure.
Miz's trunks are black, with silver graphics. The front of the trunks has what looks like an evil grinning face on it, with part of the mouth forming the words "I'm Awesome!" -- the Miz's best-known catchphrase. The back of the trunks has a graphic of Miz's eyes, that intense stare, with the words "BE MIZ" beneath them.
The boots are mostly black, with substantial silver trim. The inside sides of the boots have the word "AWESOME" running vertically down them, and the outside sides have the same grinning face as the front of the trunks.
Miz is wearing fairly high boots, and has very large knee pads which are long enough so that they come into direct contact with his boots. The knee pads are separately molded and placed into the figure during assembly.
It's worth mentioning that there's a second version of The Miz in the Superstars line that wears red trunks and boots. The figures are otherwise identical. The one with the black trunks is a somewhat more recent release, but both are still readily available as of this writing. Your choice. I went with the black-trunked one out of convenience at the time as much as anything.
Let's consider the figure's articulation. It's excellent, really. The Miz is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, knees, boot tops, and ankles. The knees are somewhat hindered by the large knee pads. The only slight downside to the articulation design is that the legs move forward and backward, but not outward, and there is no upper leg swivel. This, as much as anything, is evidence of the somewhat "basic" level of these figures. If you want the higher level of leg articulation, plus a mid-torso articulation, that's where the "Elite Collection" comes in.
However, I have to say that I don't personally expect these figures to see extensive play usage, and I don't really feel like paying a significantly higher price tag for the sake of three articulation points. I've got no real complaints here whatsoever.
So, what's my final word? I'm impressed. Mattel seems to have a good lock on 6"-7" scale action figures, much as Hasbro does with the 4" world. DC Universe, Masters of the Universe, and the WWE are all excellent product lines of highly-detailed, accurate and precise action figures. And the WWE line is certainly popular, and maintains a healthy presence in the toy aisles even as some lines which one would think would be similarly popular seem to be struggling these days.
I maintain that the WWE line is probably a bit more difficult to craft than some, since the individuals involved don't leave as much room for interpretation as others. It's got to look like the individual, and the individual is a real person who, in most cases, doesn't look all that different outside of the ring than inside. With The Miz, Mattel has done a really excellent job.
If you're a WWE fan, and a great many people are, then have a look at this "Superstars" line. The prices are reasonable, the lineup is extensive, and you're bound to find some of your current favorites within it, and certainly some prominent names. That definitely includes The Miz, and I was very pleased to add him to my collection. I'm certain you will be, too.
The WWE SUPERSTARS figure of THE MIZ definitely has my highest recommendation!