Anatomy of a Promo: The Miz’s “Everything I Am”

Context: The Miz broke into the business after appearing on MTV’s The Real World and then being on the WWE reality series, Tough Enough.  Because of the way he broke into the business, some wrestlers didn’t respect him and, consequently, he was the butt of ribbing and hazing. At the point of this promo, he had earned enough respect to be given a secondary title in the company, the United States Championship, and he was entering into a feud with MVP.  His character was seen as annoying and generated some heat, but he had yet to have that one moment where everyone took him seriously.

Transcript: [Standing in front of the locker room door] When I first came to World Wrestling Entertainment, not a single person respected me, not anyone out in the WWE Universe and not anyone in the WWE locker room. Everybody wanted to get rid of me, nobody could stand me.  They made my life a living hell. As a matter of fact in this very locker room, I got kicked out for eating a piece of chicken over a referee’s bag and spilling some crumbs. [Leaves locker room and walks down the hall] For six months – six months – I was banned from the WWE locker room.  I would have to find a place to change, place to shower, place to use the restroom.  I walked down these halls and see superstars like JBL. Uh.  And every day JBL saw me, he would sarcastically say, [imitating JBL voice] “Miz, I look forward to your amazing work.  Miz, you are a gift from God, Miz.”

Everybody berated me. Everybody ridiculed me.  Everybody wanted me to quit. But all that negativity, I used as fuel to ignite a wrath against everyone in the WWE, to become the star I am today.  Now I don’t even go in that locker room because I have a private dressing room just for me!  That locker room is for the Evan Bournes and the MVPs. [enter arena through the curtain]  The same MVP that is the number one contender for the United States Championship.  So congratulations, MVP.  You have earned the right to join a long list of people to get publicly humiliated by me.  [Walks up ring steps] MVP doesn’t even deserve to be in the same ring as me. [enter rings]

If it was up to me, MVP would still be in jail. I don’t believe in second chances because I have been perfect my entire life. Yet, you mistakes, all still boo me and cheer him. Well, go ahead, boo me, cheer MVP, I don’t care. I’d rather you all hate me for everything I am than love me for something I’m not!  I am the reason you people watch Monday Night Raw, not MVP.  I am the most captivating and entertaining superstar on this brand, not MVP! MVP comes out here with his glitz and glam, his pyro, his ballin’.  He has Breitling diamond watches, designer suits. That’s great, MVP, because let’s face facts, MVP: you could put diamonds on a dog, but it’s still a mutt. All you mistakes will respect me, everyone in the locker room will respect their United States Champion!  Because I’m the Miz, and I’m AWESOME!

What works:  The Miz had hardly been treated kindly by the locker room or the fans at this point in his career, and consequently, the primary theme of respect bookends this promo.  He tells the audience the true story of how he spilled chicken crumbs onto a referee’s bag (although, in fact, it was Chris Benoit’s bag) and he was ejected from the locker room for six months.  He claims he was verbally taunted by JBL, interesting given the recent controversies and grassroots anti-JBL movement. He sets himself up, thematically at least, as a face.  He was ridiculed and embarrassed by others, but he fought through that lack of respect.  Instead of learning a lesson though, he becomes the very thing he hated; the bullied becomes the bully.  The turn in the promo comes when he directs his anger toward MVP and shows him a complete lack of respect while still demanded it from others.  Ultimately, Miz is exposed as a hypocrite in the promo, a core trait of a heel.

Another core trait, egotism, is shown by the repetition in the promo.  The words “I,” “me,” and “my” are littered throughout the entire promo, which makes the promo self-centered.  Even more than the use of those words, there is a repeated sentence structure  Miz uses.  When Miz feels put upon, he uses “I” to start his sentences.  “I was banned from the WWE locker room.  I would have to find a place to change, place to shower, place to use the restroom.” He uses “I” as the subject to make it noticeable the changes he had to make based on others’ behavior.  However, when he talks about how others acted towards him, the subject becomes “everybody.”  “Everybody berated me. Everybody ridiculed me.  Everybody wanted me to quit.”  The direct object of the action is “me” in each sentence.  By doing this, he is stressing that was a passive participant.  These sentence structures are intentional to remove Miz from any culpability in the sentences.  Everyone else is to blame for their actions and what they forced onto him, and this inability to accept any responsibility, including his own reactions to their behaviors, makes him even more egotistical.

The promo’s eloquence, which makes this particularly special for a heel promo, by the parallelism and occasional poetic device. In the lines above, he uses parallel structure repeatedly by structuring sentences, subject-verb-direct object.  He uses parallelism in other instances too; most notably, he uses parallel structure in the most famous line of the promo, “I’d rather you all hate me for everything I am than love me for something I’m not.”  The sentence is a “rather/than” construction, and the construction is made more graceful by the word choices, pairing “love”/”hate” and “everything I am”/”something I’m not” on opposite ends of that construction.  Furthermore, Miz also invokes alliteration, and consonance toward the end of the promo, bolded in the quotation below.  When talking about MVP, he says, “MVP comes out here with his glitz and glam, his pyro, his ballin’.  He has Breitling diamond watches, designer suits. That’s great, MVP, because let’s face facts, MVP: you could put diamonds on a dog, but it’s still a mutt.”  What’s even more effective in these sentences, is the choice to use the word, “mutt.”  The phrase, typically, would be, “You could put diamonds on a dog, but it’s still a dog.”  The alliteration is the three words beginning with “dee.”  Instead, by choosing “mutt,” more emphasis is placed on the word and the concept behind it.  It also helps that there is alliteration with “MVP” and “mutt.” Heels can often cut effective promos but rarely with such eloquence outside of the likes of Ric Flair and Nick Bockwinkel.  The fact that Miz is so smooth in speech adds to the heelish quality of the promo.

This promo put Miz on the map as this is the first promo that he cut that was truly special.  In the past year, he’s delivered some absolutely astounding promos on Smackdown, but this is years before that and shows his potential.  It’s certainly no coincidence that he has the World Championship placed on him within about a year of this.  The promo is also interesting given the recent bullying situation with Mauro Ranallo and Justin Roberts.  The lesson of this promo is bullies beget bullies (and those bullies don’t even realize it) which makes one wonder if this was the writers playing a rib by slipping this in under the nose of Vince and locker room aggressors.

 

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