Smackdown Live: "The Miz Is Doing A Lot of Comedy"

Comedy is good.

Comedy is necessary.

Except in professional wrestling.

Whenever a wrestler goes down the comedy route in their character arc, the end result is more often a crash-and-burn situation than a “This Might Be Better Than The Rock” situation. Only a few can pull it off -- Chris Jericho, Steve Austin, Kevin Owens, R-Truth, etc. -- but when they do, it hits hard. The thing about jokes, though, is somebody usually has to be the butt of them. If a professional wrestler does comedy it’s not going to benefit somebody, whether it’s the wrestler themselves or the target of their jokes.

The New Day are funny. They’ve got great comedic timing, they appear genuine, and they know how to make the most out of the lackluster material they’re typically given. Over the last few weeks, they’ve turned their comedy up a notch, and their target, The Miz, has gotten the worst of it. An errant pancake toss is one thing, being tricked into dipping your hand into pancake mix is another, but it all adds up. For the New Day, The Miz has been the perfect foil -- the wrestler who takes himself way too seriously and really doesn’t know how to take a joke. Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods have played off that perfectly, but the trio’s gain has been The Miz’s loss.

It’s taken years for fans to finally take The Miz seriously as a top guy, with his main event match against John Cena at WrestleMania 27 no longer in the back of many fans’ minds. On Monday Night Raw, with WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar away, The Miz, with the Intercontinental title, held the show together, put on the big-time matches, put together the big-time promos, and drove home the point that this guy was clearly ready for another chance at the biggest prize on Smackdown Live -- the WWE championship.

Since moving to the blue brand, The Miz’s character has overcorrected to too much comedy. This is not a positive development. To be one of the top guy’s in this industry, consistently being the butt of joke after joke is never a good sign. There are always exceptions to this rule -- see, Daniel Bryan -- but those are rare. For every Bryan, there are far more serious competitors whether it be Lesnar, Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Triple H, Randy Orton, Cena, Braun Strowman and the list goes on and on. There is nothing wrong with a joke here or there, but The Miz is past what he’s been on doing the past month on Smackdown Live. He’s in line to have the most highly anticipated match in the company against Bryan later this year, a feud predicated on The Miz’s anger and passion to be taken seriously as The Guy.

The company has to be careful with how they’re booking The Miz, especially with how much momentum he had moving from the red show to the blue one, because he’s ready for a long title run on Smackdown Live. He’s been ready. So after Money in the Bank on Sunday, The Miz needs a reset. What can’t continue to happen is the continuation of The Miz we saw Tuesday night, a character that screamed and ranted looking for a contract in briefcase that was purely for show. This is the kind of character ineptitude the audience has come to expect from the Bayley character, not The Miz, and that is not a good place to be if you’re The Miz

***

Even AJ Styles is tired of talking about Shinsuke Nakamura

Jerry “The King” Lawler returned because the WWE was back in business and fans were treated with the Lawler of old. Lawler interviewed WWE champion AJ Styles by the entrance ramp -- I assume to give fans the opportunity to see his entrance and him in-person, as the Phenomenal One hasn’t wrestled on the show since Barack Obama was in office. This segment was brief, Styles rambled about the “unwritten rules” of pro wrestling, which put a smile on Brian McCann’s face, I’m sure, and the champ just seemed ready. Ready for this feud to conclude, ready to move forward onto something else, ready to regain his lost momentum due to his ostensible injury and long-winded feud with Nakamura.

On Sunday, this feud will end, and it looks as though Styles will retain. Nakamura is still entertaining, he is still thriving as a heel, and the crowd loves his surprise low-blows, but if he loses as expected, then what? He’ll have lost WWE title feuds with both Jinder Mahal and Styles, but he’s got a cooler entrance? Maybe tonight’s match with United States champion Jeff Hardy was a test to see how these two would work in a feud. Hardy is still a star, and he makes that title matter. Nakamura and Hardy share the rockstar-like vibe, and whenever they’re on the screen, you can’t look away. You’ll never not be intrigued or entertained by their presence. Maybe that’s where they go and that would be just fine.

Paige is getting better and better as general manager

Maybe it’s just refreshing to have an on-screen authority figure deliver their lines without a hitch on a consistent basis, or maybe Paige is just a natural at this. Whatever the case may be, Paige was especially good this week, and she was all over the place. (And we never even saw her texting or calling anyone all night!) Her interactions with Asuka and Miz backstage weren’t awkward, her opening promo was fine, and the authority role suits her.

The Outsiders vs. The Establishment is brewing in the Women’s Division

Maybe the most interesting visual from this week’s episode was The IIconics, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville staring down Naomi, Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Lana in the ring. The latter are either feuding (Naomi and Lana) or building to a major feud (Lynch and Flair), while the former have nothing going on. Since arriving on Smackdown Live, they haven’t found their footing, just a random match and promo here and there. There is no plan for the women on the outside, while the four women on the inside are gearing up for big things.

With Asuka feuding with WWE Smackdown Live women’s champion Carmella, Deville, Rose, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay are left picking up the scraps. Right now, they're out of focus, by interrupting the opening promo, their hope is to re-focus. When do they get their first major feud, when do they get inserted into the title picture, when do they get to the point where you notice that they weren’t on the show one week? Only time will tell.

Lifted from the Legal Pad:

  • “Eww, Renee, move.” - Carmella

  • Just let Rusev be a babyface. Please?

  • Over/Under on the “No More Words” Jeff Hardy theme returning in two months or less? It’s time. He’s back.

  • Big Cass is actually bad.

  • Poor Good Brothers. This was their shot, and they’ve been relegated to the kickoff show for Money in the Bank and not even feature on the go-home show.

  • Where was Andrade “Cien” Almas and is SAnitY ever debuting? The former just needs to be around consistently -- not fall into the Tye Dillinger zone.

  • “You know what, Miz-y…” - Paige

  • Shelton Benjamin had his best match since his return, and it still fell short. Watching Old Shelton is like watching Wizards Michael -- just depressing. Father Time is undefeated. (I’m going to go back and watch Benjamin vs. Shawn Michaels now. Excuse me.)

  • Speaking of Benjamin, instead of giving Big Cass promos each week, give that time to somebody like Benjamin who really needs to establish who his character is right now. His match with Bryan was far too quiet.

  • Are we sure The IIconics are good?