The Royal Rumble match has always been driven by the desire to create excitement for WrestleMania.
It begins the Road to WrestleMania by crowning one of the Superstars who will be main-eventing the show. This year, the field of potential winners is wide open, and one man who should be considered as a heavy favorite to win the bout for the first time is The Miz.
While there are bigger names who could win the Rumble, no one has been better positioned to make the leap to the top of the card than Miz, who is just waiting for an opportunity like this. In the past year, he has almost become the headline attraction for Monday Night Raw. It is about time his work were rewarded.
The most recent edition of Raw was promoted with one simple headline: Miz returns. While he had only been gone for six episodes of his brand's weekly programming to film an eighth WWE Studios movie, his absence had been felt so massively WWE had to make it clear he was on his way back.
While no one missed Miz quite as much as The Miztourage, which spent every week lamenting its leader's absence, few could deny Raw felt off without Miz around. WWE clearly felt the same way, as upon his return, he not only immediately challenged Roman Reigns to a match that will headline Raw's 25th anniversary special but also ended the night standing tall by taking out the intercontinental champion.
Now a WWE veteran with over a decade of experience, the A-Lister has had his share of ups and downs. From headlining WrestleMania XXVII in the shadow of a future clash between John Cena and The Rock to spending the next four years at 'Mania in multi-man matches or flat out missing the main card, Miz has been on the precipice of greatness and the edge of being forgotten.
The 2016 WWE draft changed everything for the Awesome One, who headed to SmackDown Live. There, he would consistently butt heads with SmackDown general manager Daniel Bryan. His unscripted rants on Talking Smack, coupled with impressive matches against everyone from Dolph Ziggler to Dean Ambrose, made him one of the blue brand's biggest stars behind just AJ Styles and Cena.
His move to Raw has only further highlighted Miz is in the best form of his career, helping solidify the legacy of the Intercontinental Championship (he's closing in on making history for having the most cumulative days as IC champion) and cutting promos that would help shape the direction of the program, including reuniting The Shield.
Throughout this time, Miz has been the only star WWE has consistently relied upon to star in its movies. That level of reliance has even translated to USA Network, which recently green-lit an unscripted docuseries following Miz and Maryse as they start a family, per Dino-Ray Ramos of Deadline Hollywood.
Even if Miz has not reached Cena's level in terms of Hollywood exposure, he is slowly but surely gaining mainstream relevance.
2018 could easily be the biggest year of Miz's career, and it would be smart for WWE to take the next step with him while the time is right. The Royal Rumble would be the perfect moment to take a surprise turn with the heel, having him win the event's namesake Battle Royal and go on to challenge SmackDown's WWE champion, AJ Styles, at WrestleMania.
It has been clear for a while WWE has a firm goal for WrestleMania 34 to be headlined by Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship, but SmackDown needs its own headline match. If Styles defeats both Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn at Royal Rumble, there would be few options left for the champion on the brand.
Styles vs. Miz may not be the headline attraction Lesnar vs. Reigns will be, but it is not too far off and would be worthy of a top spot at 'Mania with the right story. Moreover, Styles and Miz have already proved to be good opponents for one another, having multiple strong matches in early 2016 just after Styles debuted. The Phenomenal One even broke Miz's teeth.
After that series of matches, the two have been kept apart, and both men have only improved since. It would be fitting for Styles' first rival after his WWE debut to also be his opponent for his first world championship title defense at 'Mania with both better situated as major stars in WWE.
Miz and Styles have earned the opportunity to be in one of the top matches at the Showcase of the Immortals this year, and they could steal the show. This match would also help solidify WWE's commitment to both men as top stars in the company, rewarding their hard work and impressive performances over the past two years.
Styles likely will continue to be a top star for WWE regardless of his opponent on the Grandest Stage of Them All, but Miz could spend many more years quietly leading WWE without getting another chance in the main event when he has proved he belongs there. A win at Royal Rumble would help both men, but it would be crucial for Miz.
Is it likely Miz will win the Rumble? No. He has about as strong a chance of winning the match as Finn Balor or Randy Orton, with it much more likely Reigns, Cena or Shinsuke Nakamura emerges victorious. Still, a Miz victory would be a reward for a veteran at the perfect moment, setting up a match that could easily headline for SmackDown.
Why not go with Miz? WWE already relies on him for everything else. He may just be the most mainstream-credible performer competing on the show weekly. It all adds up to a slam dunk that would shock fans but be welcomed long term.
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