Pro Wrestling's most unlikely World Champions: Part III
The former reality TV star was disliked in the WWE Smackdown locker room and often relegated to “WWE Diva Search Host.” Never mind the fact the guy wrestled on the California independent scene before his WWE debut. JBL and other veterans wanted no part of him.
It wasn’t until 2007 that The Miz started getting taken somewhat seriously, earning an ECW Title shot against CM Punk. He didn’t win, but proved that he was making strides.
In 2008, Miz formed a memorable team with John Morrison. They even co-hosted the hit WWE.com show “The Dirt Sheet,” exposing millions of fans to Miz’s humor and untapped potential. The team lasted over a year until they were split via the draft in 2009. At that point, Miz had developed into a solid in-ring worker and was getting better on the mic each week.
It looked bad for Miz when a disastrous, borderline squash match with John Cena took place in the Summer of 2009--despite months of buildup. Miz eventually recovered and went on to challenge Kofi Kingston for the United States Title later that year. He won. Finally, Miz won a singles title. He was starting to prove naysayers wrong. Check out my column following his U.S. Title win for more details.
In 2010, he won the Money in The Bank contract. On Nov. 22, 2010, Miz cashed in his MITB contract and defeated Randy Orton for the WWE Title.
The kid from Ohio that was once seen as a joke of a wrestler was now WWE’s top heel and one of the company's most recognizable stars. Most importantly, WWE gradually built up Miz, so when he finally won the gold, fans believed in him. His next title reign could be this Sunday, next week, next year, who knows.
But The Miz’s main event status is safe for a long, long time.
Mike Mizanin, you are awesome and now everybody knows it.
Chris Benoit: WCW Champion (2000), WWE World Champion (2004)
Outside of Russo, Arquette, and McMahon, Chris Benoit is the most controversial former World Champion on this list for disturbing reasons.
If you don’t know about Benoit’s untimely death and gruesome murders of his wife and child, you’ve either been living under a rock or don’t read.
Benoit had always been considered undersized in his wrestling career, but stood out with five-star matches and intensity that would have made “Macho Man” Randy Savage say “OHHHH YEAH!” (Savage was as intense as they come). WCW was largely dominated by bigger guys and more notable names in the late-1990s when it came to the company’s title picture.
Outside of Diamond Dallas Page and Goldberg, everybody else that held the WCW Title around that time was wrestler that’s been in main events for nearly a decade--or in Hulk Hogan’s/Ric Flair’s case, decades. In a bizarre turn of events, Bret Hart had to vacate the WCW Title due to concussion complications that ended his wrestling career.