The Miz & Baker Mayfield are polarizing, doubted… and future World Champions

The Miz & Baker Mayfield are polarizing, doubted… and future World Champions

October 25, 2020 will go down as one of the most significant days in Cleveland sports history. A day when two pivotal building blocks were separately stacked on the climb to glory. A day when doubt was silenced so heavily that all you could hear by the end of it were the sounds of fingers furiously tapping keyboards, fueled by either total jubilation or absolute judgment. A day when The Miz and Baker Mayfield both took massive leaps toward winning World Championships… and I know that sentence just made so many of y’all mad.

Good. That’s the whole reason we’re here.

Because it was so poetically serendipitous that the same night Miz won the Money in the Bank Contract at WWE Hell in a Cell came just a few hours after Mayfield led the Cleveland Browns to an absolutely bonkers victory over the Cincinnati Bengals that cannot be spun as anything but the most definitive of his young career.

Why serendipitous, Ryan? Well, after having to hear for nearly a decade that he would never sniff the Money in the Bank Contract or WWE Championship again, the Ohio-born Miz hit the eject button on all that quick with his win over Otis. Meanwhile, right before that, Mayfield, after missing his first five throws vs. Cincinnati, threw a literal perfect game in the final three quarters after a week that had virtually every talking head, reporter, blogger and a majority of my cell phone contacts calling for his job and writing him off as a bust. Sentiments that Mike Mizanin has heard countless times in his now 15-year WWE career. Hell, sentiments that Mayfield has, inexplicably, heard more than a handful of times in less than three as the Browns signal caller.

Which is where the poetry comes in.

See, I’ve been intently watching WWE for 23 years and obsessively rooting for the Cleveland Browns (despite never actually having stepped foot in Cleveland) for 21. And in those two decades-plus with both, I’ve never seen two individuals in either world have to deal with more targeted scrutiny than Miz and Mayfield. Which is why the multiple parallels between the two, including the fact that they are big fans of each other, is so incredibly interesting. Let’s break down the biggest ones:

Both are brash. Like, really brash. Many (like me) see it as each having invaluable confidence, but so many more try to spin it as excessive cockiness. Either way, it’s worked for both despite how incredibly polarizing it all is. Miz was a massive television star by the age of 22, WWE Champion by the age of 30 and a pop culture mainstay for more than two decades now. Mayfield was one of the most accomplished high school football players in Texas state history, won the Heisman Trophy in his senior year at Oklahoma and then, despite ample doubt, was announced as the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft en route to becoming one of the biggest stars in the league today.

And let’s focus in on that last part, about the doubt. It’s a critical factor in all of this for both men, probably the most critical. It exists in ample measure for each and seemingly doesn’t ever go away even after they prove it all to be false time and again. Because, according to many at first, Miz was just an MTV personality who would never hack it in WWE, just like Mayfield had to prove himself by walking on to two different Division 1 College Football programs despite his high school accolades.

But then when Miz found major success in the tag team division in the early stages of his career, it was that he’d never be able to break out as a singles competitor, just like Mayfield was suddenly “too short” for the NFL even after winning the Heisman Trophy to cap off his incredible college career. Buuutt thennnn when Miz won Money in the Bank and the WWE Title in 2010, it was that he’d never again find sustained success in WWE after losing the championship in 2011, just like Mayfield was told his first year in the league (where he helped the Browns snag their first wins in close to two calendar years and broke rookie records) was an aberration and his NFL upside was still incredibly limited. Buuuuuuuuttttttt thennnnnnnn, Miz has since gone on to spend the entirety of the last 10 years becoming one of WWE’s most reliable, consistent and dependable performers, just like Mayfield has led the Browns to their first 6-3 record since I was still (poorly) helping fix air conditioners at a community college in 2014. 

Which is why October 25th of this year will go down as such a significant day for Baker, Miz and all of northeast Ohio. Because, pardon the pun, we’re reaching the point where critics are running out of places to move the goalposts on these dudes. Which doesn’t mean I’m saying the Browns are winning the Super Bowl this season, and I obviously have no idea when The Miz will cash in Money in the Bank. But what I am saying, with supreme confidence backed up by inarguable fact, is this: The Miz and Baker Mayfield are both going to be World Champions. 

And I know that has some of you seething right now. Good. I also know that a good portion of you are like, "Wait, The Miz has faltered some since winning the Money in the Bank contract and Baker hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in two weeks, Ryan." But, both of those, as wild as this may sound, are a pivotal part in the cycle that, in time, will prove my theory true. 

That cycle is as follows: Miz and Baker accomplish, you write that accomplishment off. Miz and Baker stumble, you doubt. Miz and Baker overcome that doubt and use it as fuel, so you doubt even harder. Miz and Baker ultimately persevere through all of it, and now you have no idea what to do with your hands.

Stumbles along the way are going to happen to everyone, but before Mayfield was drafted in 2018, he famously said that he believed if anyone could turn around the historically woeful Browns, it would be him… and now they’re in the thick of the playoff race for the first time in forever. And before Miz walked onto WWE Tough Enough back in 2005, the idea of a “reality TV star” making it in WWE was immediately laughed at and brushed off… and now he’s built a Hall of Fame-worthy career.

So, if you were mad at the start and seething a minute ago, I know that last paragraph right there just put y’all over the top. And to that, I, yet again, say good. I’m sure it has you drafting up a new tweet on how Baker is going to flame out this season or how there’s no way The Miz could possibly cash in again successfully – maybe you’re even combining the two into one single tweet because of this article. GOOD. Go ahead, doubt them. At this point, they both definitely expect it and probably welcome it.

After all, it’s the reason we’ll all be finishing our tweets about each with #AndNew sooner than later.  

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