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WWE’s annual Tribute to the Troops has entertained America’s armed forces for 16 years, and The Miz has been there for 13 of them, by his count.
“I’ve been to Bahrain, I’ve been to Iraq, Afghanistan, Spain, Poland, Abu Dhabi, you know, all over the world,” he says. “Going over there, and actually seeing the lives that they lead…it’s incredible, man.”
Miz, real name Mike Mizanin, is well known for his boisterous and outspoken personality, which he honed during his TV debut on MTV’s Real World and its spinoff Road Rules Challenge. Arguably one of his most memorable moments in WWE was a segment on Talking Smack when he exploded on Daniel Bryan and preceded to tell the WWE Universe that Smackdown was “[his] show:”
However, when we spoke to The Miz for an interview about the Tribute shows, it’s clear that he’s humbled by his experiences speaking to and performing for military personnel, telling us, “I remember meeting a Sergeant, and he showed me a picture of a woman and a baby at an autograph signing, and he goes, ‘You met my daughter before I met her.’ I couldn’t believe it! That’s what these service men and women put forth, you know?”
Miz may not be an armed serviceman, but he does play one on film. Since 2013, he’s starred in the titular role in The Marine film series, following in the footsteps of John Cena. The impact his role has on members of the military is not lost on him. “When I heard I was gonna be The Marine, I [thought], ‘Okay, I have a big duty to make sure that everything I do, I look, walk, talk and act like a Marine, because these guys are real life superheroes. These are the men and women that make the ultimate sacrifice for us, so the little thing that I can do is literally hone in my craft and really make sure that I do a good job for them.’”
While he appreciates the praise he gets from military servicemen and women for his role in The Marine, he also makes it clear to them that, “I am just an actor, you know, acting. [They’re] the [people] that [are] actually doing.”
When asked what stands out to him the most throughout his years doing Tribute to the Troops, Miz recalls a visit to Iraq. “I remember getting in an armed vehicle and there was an orange pole sticking out of it. It was really out of place. I [asked the driver], ‘What’s with the orange pole?’ He goes, ‘Dude, that saves our lives. It heats up the landmine before it blows us up.’ I go, ‘Has that ever happened?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, it happened yesterday.’ Like it’s a nonchalant everyday type of thing!”
Beyond Tribute to the Troops, Miz is also hosting a marathon for his reality show Miz and Mrs., which was recently renewed for a second season. Many may find the way Miz lives in front of the camera 24/7 to be emotionally draining, but he relishes in it. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always [been] a ham for the camera, anytime there’s a video camera anywhere,” he says. “There was a huge VHS video recorder that my dad would have, and I would make videos on it, I would have so much fun editing stuff. So I enjoy it, you know?”
Miz also doesn’t try to claim that everything on Miz and Mrs. is true to life, and refers to it as a “hybrid reality.”
“What we want to do is make sure that everyone is entertained. It doesn’t matter if it’s real or it’s not – all that matters is that you’re laughing, you’re sitting with your family, and enjoying yourself,” he explains.
Between WWE, a TV/movie star, and the father of a young child (Monroe Sky) with his wife Maryse, we wondered how on earth he manages to stay fit on such a tight schedule. Turns out he’s still trying to figure that out himself. “Being a new dad, that’s the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to deal with, ’cause you’re … now you’re dealing with no sleep, because whenever Monroe is up, I am up,” he says. “But actually, I’m building a gym at my house.”
If you can’t go to the gym, might as well bring it to you, right?
However, despite the chaos, Miz still takes time to focus on his diet, which he feels is the most important part of staying in shape. “Everything is 90% diet. You wanna lose weight? You look at your diet. It’s not go for an hour run, you look at your diet. If I get a sweet potato [at a restaurant], I don’t want any of that butter, I don’t want any of that brown sugar. I want it plain, clean, and that’s the best way you could do it. “
Before the end of the interview, we couldn’t help but ask him how he feels about his eternal love for his hometown Cleveland Browns, a team once infamous for going over 600 days without a win. This season, things are finally looking up for the Browns after a major coaching shakeup, so we wondered if Miz finally felt vindicated in his fandom.
“Vindicated? No,” he says. “Do I feel that the Browns are changing the landscape, and changing the view and perception of what we were? Absolutely. I want a winning record. I want eight wins, I wanna be 8-7-1. If we do that, going from an 0-16 team, that is incredible.”
Well, if the Browns could shock the NFL world by touting a respectable record this season, then maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised that someone as over-the-top as the Miz really can be a humble guy in real life.
Tribute to the Troops will air this Thursday at 9/8c on USA Network as part of WWE Holiday Week.