Miro made headlines when he showed up on AEW Dynamite as Kip Sabian’s “best man”. Here’s how All Elite can get the most out of him.
I remember a time before there was Miro and AEW, before there was Rusev Day and Aiden English, Rusev was one of the top heels on Monday Night Raw. He was feuding with John Cena and, later, Roman Reigns in the United States Championship scene. More often, he was saddled with a horrible storyline that would have undermined anyone else’s career.
But not him. When Rusev was forced to play the “evil foreigner” trope, he came across like a babyface. Like, we all knew he was supposed to be the heel, and many members of the audience decided to chant “USA! USA!” obnoxiously – with no detection of self-irony or bigotry – when he made his entrance.
The most sensible of us, though, knew the money was in Rusev as a babyface. That man has wit and charm, and even in the worst of storylines (the Summer Rae, Lana, and Dolph Ziggler one was particularly bad), Rusev was able to show his charisma. Bulgarian George Clooney, anyone?
I always think one of the most overlooked traits in a great babyface is wit. The ability a wrestler has to think on their feet, make anything work, and get the littlest things over. Becky Lynch comes to mind, as does one of Rusev’s former co-workers on 2016 Raw, Chris Jericho.
Rusev was one of WWE SmackDown’s biggest stars
Rusev finally got a chance to get over as a babyface on SmackDown, making “Rusev Day” the biggest catchphrase in the entire company. He was so good that he put on a show-stealer at Fastlane with the legendary Shinsuke Nakamura in which he got as many cheers as the then-babyface Nakamura. Talk about impressive.
Yet throughout his self-made, organic rise, he was met with nothing but resistance. As an “over” babyface, Rusev only won a single title – the United States Champion on a December episode of SmackDown before losing the belt one month later on the Royal Rumble’s kick-off show. Exactly. He was one of the biggest babyfaces in the company and lost a mid-card title on the kick-off show to a guy who lost the title two days later to R-Truth.
Vince McMahon failed to capitalize on Rusev. It’s that simple. And the reasons he gave to Rusev are so hilariously illogical that seemingly only Vince could come up with him. Why did Rusev Day shirts sell out? Oh, well, obviously because WWE didn’t make enough shirts! Why was everyone in the crowd chanting Rusev Day at the top of their lungs? Oh, well, they are f**ing with you, Rusev, don’t be silly!
So you can imagine, then, that after going through all of this, that useless Lana and Bobby Lashley love angle (seriously, who benefited from that???) and being released during the COVID-19 pandemic, Miro had a lot of passion in him when he took the mic on AEW Dynamite.
Miro and why it’s important to bet on yourself
That’s why I don’t fault him for having a go at WWE. In a lot of ways, Miro is a man who bets on himself and his own talent, and with his ability in and out of the ring, you can’t blame him. There is a risk in being so vociferous on the mic on live, cable TV against your former employer, because there is, let’s be honest, no guarantee in how long AEW lasts.
But if Miro is so good in AEW that if WWE becomes his only option afterwards, Vince and the machine would probably accept him back anyway despite harsh words. Again, that’s the whole idea of betting on yourself – being so good that you will be fine no matter what.
Miro’s confidence in his own abilities is wonderful to see, and he can back it up. But Miro doesn’t stand on his own. That is to say, his own abilities don’t fully determine the outcomes of his success. Because if they did, he would still be in WWE and would have been a world champion.
It’s on AEW to make sure that someone who is the caliber of a main-event player and maybe even a semi-mainstream star for them can reach that potential. The mic is in Miro’s hands, yes, but the pen and book are in Tony Khan’s (among others).
Miro is not just another former WWE wrestler
AEW gets criticized for signing too many former WWE stars, and there is truth in that, just like there was for TNA in the past. They have signed some wrestlers who, let’s be honest, either haven’t been highly relevant in at least five years or don’t have what it takes to be world champions in All Elite. Miro is not one of those guys. He was a beloved babyface within the last three years of WWE and a three-time champion in the mid-card. And he can be so much more than a mid-card champion in AEW.
Who else in AEW reached Rusev’s success in WWE over the past two years? Exactly. Miro should be part of the so-called “five percent” of WWE stars with a place in AEW.
The key for All Elite is getting Miro on the mic and letting him be creative with his character, merchandising, and personality on social media and off the screen. So much of Rusev’s success in WWE was due to self-made videos and ideas created on other platforms, and AEW needs to harness that. Being The Elite is creative, no doubt, but AEW should let Miro do his own stuff freely on his own channels. He’s so good at those funny, short clips.
In the ring, Miro’s athletic ability speaks for itself. He is agile and impossibly strong (look at those legs!), and he’s got technical quality between the ropes, as well. But of course, what separates Miro from the rest is his cleverness on the mic and willingness to try new things, even embarrass himself on the road to babyface stardom.
AEW needs to pave that road for Miro. Give him the canvas, the brush, the highest-quality paint, and an easel that can actually stand. Hover over him, but don’t micromanage his brushstrokes. Let him go to work and reap the rewards. Everyone who watched WWE from 2017 to 2019 understands exactly what he can offer, which means the majority of AEW’s audience wants to see him get a shot to prove he’s at that top star level in pro wrestling.