As fans watched countless Smackdown Live superstars swap brands throughout last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw, many were left wondering who, in return, would switch to “Team Blue.” Well, in a slight twist from last year, fans didn’t have to wait until Tuesday night to hear at least one name called, as Raw GM Kurt Angle happily announced that the Miz would be headed to Smackdown Live, where Daniel Bryan is eagerly awaiting him.
In an interview Bryan gave to ESPN in September of 2016, just a few weeks after the epic Talking Smack promo the two exchanged, Bryan told Jonathan Coachman that thei argument with Miz was not entirely scripted and that the two almost came to blows for real as a result. The two had agreed to needle each other during the segment but neither discussed in advance the topics that would be brought up. This led to Bryan telling the Miz he wrestled like a coward and Miz retorting by saying Bryan was a coward for taking an on-screen management role and not going to wrestle on the independents as he claimed he could.
As Bryan told Coachman, “Part of me just wanted to punch him in the face.”
Last night, over two years later, Bryan, who worked with SD Commissioner Shane McMahon and new GM Paige, to bring Miz to the blue brand, tweeted out a similar sentiment.
— Daniel Bryan (@WWEDanielBryan) April 17, 2018
The answer to that would be 601 days, but really, who’s counting?
The Talking Smack promo, which both elevated the show’s profile and that of the Miz all at once, was the catalyst for this latest battle between Miz and Bryan, but it wasn’t the shot that started the war. In fact, as some might remember, the history between Bryan and Miz goes back much further to when Miz was Bryan’s pro on the first season of NXT.
Firing the First Shot
Just minutes into the first episode, the Miz appeared backstage to introduce his rookie, Daniel Bryan, to the audience. Referring to him as an “internet darling,” Miz cited Bryan as well-traveled, having become a star in the “minor leagues,” before coming to NXT. Miz then told Bryan to go to the ring with Miz’ music and cut a promo before executing the reality TV trope of breaking the fourth wall to tell the audience, “what Bryan doesn’t know…” Miz said Bryan had the personality of the Mohave Desert before telling the audience that if Bryan didn’t show personality that he was going to slap some into him.
Bryan didn’t exactly get on the Miz’ good side either, apologizing for Miz being his pro and saying he wished it was William Regal before saying “you get what you get.” As Bryan was introducing himself, Miz interrupted as he said he would, and the two engaged in a back-and-forth where Bryan took the opportunity to criticize Miz for how he got to WWE after Miz questioned Bryan’s star potential.
“Do you know what I was thinking I was going to do, was I was going to go on a reality TV show, get a fohawk and then come out here and look like an idiot. That’s how, oh wait, that’s already been done and it’s been done by you.”
The Miz then asked Bryan to rattle off a catchphrase to which Bryan sarcastically said he was going to rack his brain to see if he could come up with something as creative as “I’m awesome.”
“If you and I were ever to step in this ring, you’d have two options. You either tap or you snap.”
The Miz was unimpressed, told Bryan he failed and then slapped him. But Bryan, a 10-year veteran of the pro wrestling industry was unphased and simply responded by saying, “you know what Miz, there will be a time when I’m going to slap you back.”
It was clear the two didn’t like each other even back then.
“I’ve been in this business twice as long as he has,” Bryan told NXT host Matt Striker on the first episode. “I can be a star on my own.”
The episode ended with Bryan upstaging Miz as the two entered for Bryan’s main event match against Chris Jericho. Bryan lost despite a great effort, but after the match, Miz attacked Bryan, clearly feeling disrespected by Bryan’s comments and behavior during the night.
Several of the rookies and pros didn’t get along that first season but none more than Miz and Bryan. The two feuded throughout the entire season, the crux of which seemed to focus on Bryan having more in-ring experience than Miz and feeling like he didn’t need to take Miz’ advice as a result. This led to the two constantly at each other’s throats and coming to blows on multiple occasions, as Miz constantly tried to prove that Bryan was nothing in his eyes and in that of the WWE. Miz made life hell for Bryan, never really wanting him to succeed in the competition and sometimes actively making sure he failed.
Bryan finished the competition as the only one without a win, going 0-10 in in-ring action. The lack of chemistry with his so-called mentor was indeed a large part of that. When it came time for eliminations, Bryan spoke candidly saying that as the only one without a win that he deserved to go home and that was exactly what happened. Bryan, alongside Michael Tarver and Skip Sheffield, were sent home in the first set of eliminations on May 11. Despite being eliminated however, Bryan returned a week later, attacking Michael Cole and the Miz. Then, on a one-day contract, Bryan finally got his one-on-one match with the Miz on an episode of Raw. Bryan won, defeating Miz in just over two minutes.
A New United States Champion
Bryan returned alongside the debuting Nexus that June, but didn’t last long with the stable. During an altercation, Bryan choked out ring announcer Justin Roberts with his own necktie, before spitting in John Cena‘s face. Deeming the actions not appropriate for PG, WWE released Bryan from his contract. He wouldn’t stay gone for long however, making his in-ring return at Summerslam just a few months later, joining Team WWE in a winning effort against the Nexus. Ironically enough, Miz was going to be Team WWE’s seventh member but since he refused to make his decision until the day of Summerslam, Cena chose Bryan as his team’s final member instead.
Bryan and Miz’ paths crossed again just two weeks later as Bryan and Kaval lost to Miz and his season two rookie, Alex Riley, in a tag team match. From there, Bryan talked himself into becoming the #1 contender for Miz’ United States Championship. And on September 19, 2010, Bryan made good on the catchphrase he told Miz in their first promo together, “If you and I were ever to step in this ring, you’d have two options. You either tap or you snap.”
Miz got his rematch in a triple threat submissions count anywhere match at Hell in a Cell, which was once again won by Bryan as once again, the Miz tapped out to the LeBell Lock.
While Miz and Bryan fought sporadically over the next five years, their rivalry mostly cooled. The two even teamed up on several occasions. There were four years in between when Bryan fought Miz in 2011 to when Bryan last fought Miz in 2015.
Talking Smack and the It Kicks
With Bryan on the shelf due to injury, the rivalry with Miz was put on hold for a year until Bryan returned as the GM of Smackdown in July of 2016. Bryan wasted no time getting a shot in, announcing on the first live episode of Smackdown, which was also the superstar draft, “I kinda hate to be doing this but we need the Intercontinental Championship so Smackdown’s next pick is the Miz with Maryse.”
Miz felt slighted from the beginning and when he was told that creative had nothing for him on the night of August 23, 2016, unleashed fire and fury on Talking Smack. That kicked off what has been one of the best supporting feuds in WWE over the past two years, one that seemed would never have payoff with Bryan not cleared to wrestle. Miz stole Bryan’s moveset, taunting him with it on Smackdown and using it still after being traded to Raw in the first Superstar Shakeup last year.
— The Miz (@mikethemiz) April 17, 2018
With Bryan now cleared however, there was no denying what his first big feud back had to be and it’s the Miz. The two have always been on opposite sides with, as Bryan has said before, real disdain between them. This would be a rivalry between two guys who may not hate each other the way their kayfabe characters do, but they certainly aren’t hanging out on weekends or having their little girls go on play datess together.
The Miz/Bryan rivalry has been building ever since Bryan and Miz first stepped in the ring together in 2010, and has only picked up in intensity over the past several years. And there is no doubt that with all of the personal attacks fired by both sides, that this will be the best chapter yet in what has been quite the animosity-fueled history of these two men.