LOS ANGELES – Mike Mizanin is a talker.
Ask a question and he’ll give you a five-minute answer. Put a camera on him and he'll go into prime time mode. Thanks to WWE, the self-made professional wrestler has been able to smack down reality TV in a way few have seen.
And now? He’s peeling back the façade of The Miz, his boo-worthy WWE character, and showing what it’s really like to be in the world’s most visible ring.
In “Miz & Mrs,” his new series with wife Maryse, Mizanin hopes to reveal the work that goes into juggling two worlds.
At home, Mizanin says, “I’m really quiet. I relax. I shut up and hang out with my dogs. I let her talk,” he says, gesturing to Maryse, “and I listen.”
The series, which premieres this month on USA, is another chapter in the life of Reality Mike. While in college, the Ohio native was recruited to be on the 10th season of “The Real World,” MTV’s look into the lives of college-age students and how they get along in one big apartment.
During those episodes, Mizanin expressed his desire to be a professional wrestler and unleashed a character he called “The Miz.” Folks laughed, but when his run on the series ended, he took steps to make the career happen.
He started with Ultimate Pro Wrestling, making his debut in 2003. Another series, “Tough Enough,” which gave the winner a World Wrestling Entertainment contract, brought him to the attention of more people. He made it to the final round but lost to Daniel Puder, based on crowd reaction.
WWE, however, liked the scrappy talker and sent him to Deep South Pro Wrestling, where he honed his style and earned a spot on “SmackDown” as a host and, later, a villain.
The guise, the 37-year-old Mizanin says, was perfect. “I love being a bad guy on WWE. You get to do whatever you want, more or less, and if people hate it, good. You’re supposed to hate me.”
Off-screen, he’s more hug-worthy. He delights in the attention and willingly poses whenever a camera is pointed in his direction.
Before Christmas, Mizanin juggled duties on “Monday Night Raw” with an acting gig and a USO tour in Iraq. The new series shows that whirlwind lifestyle, but also his entry into the world of fatherhood.
Daughter Monroe Sky Mizanin was born in March and, he says, will be a part of the series. “Once she understands and starts getting it, whatever she wants, we’ll do,” Mizanin says. “If she doesn’t want to be (a part of their reality world), that’s her choice.”
Before the baby’s birth, he got advice from WWE friends. Paul Levesque, otherwise known as Triple H, told him all phones needed to be put away at dinner time. “It’s what they see that matters,” the WWE superstar told him. “If they see you doing something, they’re going to want to do it. Set an example.”
Before the baby’s delivery, Mizanin says his job was “to go to the doctor’s office and take pictures.” Now, the duties have ramped up considerably.
While both are in the same business, the couple had a rocky start, largely because she didn’t speak English. They met while cutting a promo for the “Diva Search” and barely got beyond, “Hello, my name is.”
Mizanin went to the producers and said, “Listen, this girl can’t connect with us. How is she going to connect with the WWE world?” She came back in the room, producers decided to cut a promo in French (she’s from Montreal) and, quickly, Mizanin learned “this girl has a mind on her. She was the type of girl I wanted to marry.” She learned English; he went to Barnes and Noble and got a book to learn French and stumbled through some first dates. “I never learned French, but I tried.”
These days, Maryse can control her husband better than an opponent. “She tells me to shut up and I listen,” he says with a smile.
“Things have evolved so much,” she adds.
When the two announced on “Monday Night Raw” they were expecting a daughter, “it was the first time we got cheered,” Maryse says.
Agreeing to do “Miz & Mrs” wasn’t difficult, Mizanin says. “Some (reality stars) may get upset and say, ‘I was portrayed wrong,’ but that’s never happened to me. From ‘Real World’ to this, (producers) have always been very honest with me.
“Back when I was on MTV, it was frowned upon to be on a reality show. ‘You’re not supposed to have talent. You’re not supposed to be anything,’” he says. “When I came to WWE, I was an outcast. But now, thanks to the fans, I’ve found a home.”
"Miz & Mrs" premieres at 9 p.m. July 24 on USA.