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Who's next for The Miz?

Who's next for The Miz?

What first looked like a spat between two former tag-team champions took on a new life on Monday night’s Raw SuperShow during a Falls Count Anywhere Match between The Miz and John Morrison. After bashing Morrison’s leg with a pipe, The Miz hit his former partner with the Skull-Crushing Finale on the entrance ramp, incapacitating the high-flyer and prompting the referee to stop the match. It was eerily similar to The Miz’s attack on R-Truth the previous week, and that, it seemed, was the point. While the paramedics tended to The Prince of Parkour, Miz took to the ring and made his intentions clear: the assaults on Truth and Morrison are part of a larger plan the former WWE Champion has set in motion.

“Last week, it was R-Truth. This week, it’s John Morrison,” Miz said. “And next week? We’ll see.”

So, with The Miz on the warpath and the locker room on notice, WWE.com runs down the potential candidates who could make The Awesome One’s hit list.

Miz’s rivalry with his former apprentice is well-documented, from their successful partnership last fall to their explosive falling-out in the spring. The pair faced off in a series of pulse-pounding matches over the summer, but one can’t help but believe The Miz’s conflict with his old student remains unsettled. This could be Miz’s chance to put the issue to bed for good.

The bare-knuckle brawler from SmackDown has been on a tear of his own lately, having dispatched Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton in consecutive weeks as part of his “Barrett Barrage.” Barrett and The Miz compete on separate brands and have no direct conflict with each other, but cutting Barrett’s run short and ending the Barrage would cement The Miz as the pre-eminent threat across both brands.

The Miz achieved great success – and a WWE Tag Team Championship reign -- with the big man as part of ShowMiz in early 2010. Given Big Show’s preoccupation with World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry, an attack by “The Cleveland Screamer” seems unlikely at the moment. But The Miz’s first two targets were former tag partners of his, and he is clearly one for continuity. Toppling The World’s Largest Athlete would certainly be an appealing way to achieve the hat trick.

Ryder is a man of the people. The journeyman Superstar’s quest for a United States Championship Match, plus thrilling wins over Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger, have catapulted him to folk-hero status in the eyes of the WWE Universe. What better message could The Miz send to them than by taking out their beloved Internet Champion?

Of all the potential targets, this should be the least surprising. At this time last year, The Miz had just launched his memorable WWE Championship reign. He has made it no secret he wants the title back since losing it to John Cena last spring. Softening up CM Punk could put Miz back into the WWE Championship picture.

The Miz refers to himself as “The Most Must-See” Superstar in all of WWE and prides himself on his reality TV background. He is a man who loves the spotlight. And yet, no Superstar turned more heads in 2011, both in the WWE ring and the entertainment world at large, than The Great One. Given Rock’s victory over Awesome Truth at Survivor Series, taking him down would be a tall order. But our guess is that The Miz is still steaming over his Madison Square Garden defeat at the hands of The People’s Champion, and the temptation to try his hand against The Rock one-on-one might outweigh the risk of another loss.

The Cenation leader was humbled by The Rock at Survivor Series, and his provocative appearance on Piper’s Pit seems to have thrown him into a rare vulnerable state: For the first time, Cena’s standing as WWE's top dog seems uncertain. Similarly, Miz’s own fortunes began to fade after he suffered a humiliating defeat, losing the WWE Championship to Cena in a Steel Cage Match at Extreme Rules. With the alpha dog on his heels, this could be Miz’s chance to sweep in for revenge and supplant Cena as the face of WWE. Plus, they were Tag Team Champions that one time …

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