October 26, 2014

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Pro wrestling: Superstar ‘The Miz’ is still fond of Brunswick

CLEVELAND — Mike “The Miz” Mizanin is recognized around the world as a pro wrestling superstar, holding the prestigious WWE championship for six months earlier this year.

The charismatic 30-year-old is also a popular guest on television talk shows, dating back to his roles on MTV’s “The Real World” and “Real World/Road Rules Challenge.”

Mike Mizanin held the WWE championship for six months. “The Miz” loves Brunswick, a place he called home for several years. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY BRIAN DULIK)

Mike Mizanin held the WWE championship for six months. “The Miz” loves Brunswick, a place he called home for several years. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY BRIAN DULIK)

Few people, however, realize he once called Brunswick home — and fondly recalls the time he spent in Medina County’s largest city.

“I love Brunswick! I really have great memories of being there,” said Mizanin, who won the main event of WrestleMania 27 in front of 71,617 fans at the Georgia Dome on April 3.

“I got to know a lot of nice people and I remember playing Wiffleball in the backyard with my best friend, Ryan Holzinger, all the time. I absolutely am proud to say that I once lived in Brunswick.”

Mizanin resided in Brunswick for 2½ years after moving from Parma as a fifth-grader. He later relocated back to his hometown and graduated from Normandy High in 1999, but not before adding a trio of schools to his transcript.

“I went to Hickory Ridge in fifth grade, then they changed the district boundaries, so I went to Memorial in sixth, then I was at Edwards for seventh,” said Mizanin, whose home was on Grafton Road.

“Can you believe that? I wound up at three different schools in three years after moving, which wasn’t the easiest way to make friends.”

These days, Mizanin has plenty of friends and fans, as proven by the warm reception he received last week in throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Indians’ game against the Los Angeles Angels.

Though the 6-foot-1, 231-pounder portrays a villain/heel in the WWE, he will forever be the local boy who made it big and he promotes Cleveland everywhere he goes.

That includes Miami, where Mizanin took great pleasure in lambasting Cavaliers turncoat LeBron James during a recent WWE pay-per-view event.

“I will never turn my back on Cleveland, ever,” he said emphatically. “I don’t have to take my talents to South Beach or anywhere else. This is my home.

“Now that LeBron’s gone, I’ve heard people calling me Cleveland’s champion and the guy who ended the city’s championship drought. It is pretty flattering whenever they say it.”

Mizanin, who said he visits his family in Parma four times a year, is so proud of Northeast Ohio he squeezed in a 24-hour stopover between his Monday wrestling match in Hampton, Va., and his Wednesday TV appearances on “Lopez Tonight” and “The Challenge: Rivals” in Los Angeles.

Those obligations forced him to take a pair of 5 a.m. flights, but he said he couldn’t pass up the chance to take the mound at Progressive Field, pointing around the stadium while saying, “Look at this: It’s awesome.”

Not coincidentally, that statement mirrors Mizanin’s catchphrase of “I’m the Miz, and I’m awesome,” and his latest wrestling T-shirt, which features the words, “I’m awesome.”

Yet when he steps out of the squared-circle, the former Miami (Ohio) University student is anything but arrogant. He’s articulate, humble, likable and justifiably proud of his hard work.

“Every day for me is a dream come true,” said Mizanin, who defeated Randy Orton to win the WWE championship on Nov. 22, 2010 at Orlando’s Amway Arena.

“Knowing I was only the 40th person to be the WWE champion since 1963 is something that makes me very proud, knowing all the time I’ve devoted to becoming the best. There is no chance that I’m going to stop giving it my all in everything I do.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.