When Mike 'The Miz' Mizanin first burst on the scene of pop culture and the conscience of the American mainstream, he was known as the most annoying character on an already-annoying TV program.
Initially gaining semi-fame for his time on the MTV show, 'The Real World', The Miz became notable for pestering his roommates with his rude comments and obnoxious personality.
In other words? He was Puck... minus the snot rockets.
That was 20 years ago. Flash forward to today. That same brash, young kid is one of the most famous stars in the history of WWE, and currently, the World Champion, following his surprise win at Elimination Chamber this weekend.
The internet went bat-crap crazy not long after he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on fan-favorite Drew McIntyre to become the WWE Champion. Considering The Miz was always considered a red-headed stepchild of the industry, that should come as no surprise.
It's time to give The Miz his due
As much as the audience may want to disparage the career of The Miz, there is no denying his rise to fame. He started from the most unlikeliest of places to become one of the figureheads of WWE. He's now a two-time World Champion, one of the most decorated Intercontinental Champions of all time, and the star of his own reality TV show.
And he did it by catching hell the entire way.
Often shunned by the audience, critics, and even some of his fellow workers, The Miz continued to tread forward. Oftentimes, it was a mix of bravery and stupidity, but somehow, it has served him well in his tenure with WWE.
He has made a career out of being 'the man you love to hate', in so many ways. That persona has served him well and made him into the marketable character he's become. Despite the naysayers, there's no denying that the controversial Miz gets a reaction from the fans - whether negative or positive.
In many ways, The Miz is the modern-day version of former tennis star John McEnroe. He's a guy you can't stand because of his pompous and privileged attitude, but you have to admire him for his athleticism and accomplishments.
They are both boastful and brutal, yet at the same time, undeniable. In terms of pro wrestling, The Miz is an anomaly. He's someone who probably shouldn't have made it in the palace of the squared circle but somehow managed to become a king.
McEnroe was perceived in a similar fashion; willing to take any measure to win, whether it was shaming an official or shortcutting his way to victory. He was a master of mind games on the court and was reviled for his bad behavior and demanding demeanor.
Less polished than many of his country club cohorts, 'McBrat' was often looked down on by tennis traditionalists in much the same way that The Miz is doubted by some old-school wrestling veterans.
However, McEnroe eventually matured past that point to earn the respect of not only his peers but the historians of his sport. He moved past the childish ways of his youth and became known as an ambassador for the game that he helped make famous.
For that, he's transformed from a sometimes despised figure to a level of revered status. In his case? Time has healed all wounds.
Maybe it will be the same way for The Miz, as well. Maybe when his career is finally winding down, the fans and observers will appreciate him for what he was: a performer who was too bold to back down. And because of that? It led to success and multiple title reigns.
On the court of pro wrestling, The Miz was always willing to go 'out of bounds' to make a play happen. He was never afraid to talk trash or ruffle a few feathers to earn his reputation. That made him a survivor in a world where only the mentally strong survive.
Just like John McEnroe, The Miz never cared about being loved. He only cared about outlasting the competition.
And for 20 years? That is what's made him "Awesome"... Game. Set. Match.