You know, earlier this week I was thinking about the portrayal of Miro on AEW Dynamite. Whether or not it was the best direction to go in after his departure from WWE. How it has been nothing like what many expected to see when he joined the Jacksonville troupe.
During those thoughts, I must have said either “Miro”, “Rusev” or “Beetlejuice” three times because just like that, up pops Tony Khan with these quotes:
“I thought he got beaten down so bad… I saw some jackass on Twitter was like, ‘This guy drove a tank at WrestleMania and now he’s doing this,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, then he got kicked in the nuts and they treated him like sh*t for years.’
He drove a tank out five years ago, that’s not the guy I signed. The guy I signed has been abused for years and he’s being rebuilt, he’s going to be a huge star in wrestling and he is a huge star, he’s a huge name in wrestling but he wasn’t treated like it for a long time.”
Khan sparked a bit of a fire on wrestling social media with these thoughts, not that wrestling social media needs much more than a couple of damp sticks being rubbed together in order to combust. But it’s not just the mild swearing or comparing negligent TV writing to ‘abuse’ that causes fans to be so passionate about this particular topic. It’s the fact that a fan’s appraisal of his initial appearances for his new employer is an opinion shared by a fair amount of those who air their wrestling fandom grievances online.
The man many diehards expected to have been WWE Champion at least once and headlined at least one Wrestlemania by now arrived on Dynamite in September as the ‘Best Man’ of lower-card heel Kip Sabian. His in-ring debut was a disaster, and he has since been goofing around with Kip and Penelope Ford while feuding with the semi-serious Best Friends stable.
Of course, Khan had words on that, as well:
“Miro’s going to be a big star here. It’s really hard for people to come into AEW when you have a ranking system unless they come in at the start of a new year cycle and I didn’t want to wait till January to bring Miro in.”
So, what has Miro in AEW been so far, exactly?
There’s no denying his later years in WWE were a frustrating experience for everyone who grew to appreciate the then-Rusev’s work and especially the Bulgarian Brute himself. In fact, part of the reason it has deflated many to see Miro’s first three months in AEW transpire the way they have is because they hoped he would immediately become exactly what he wanted to be in Stamford, similar to fellow ship-jumpers FTR.
The former Revival strutted into Daily’s Place, reeled off reference after reference to all their favourite duos of yesteryear, took on one of their heroes as a manager and won the tag team titles in relatively short order. They were getting everything they wanted in WWE, and then some. Why isn’t Miro?
But then, here’s the thing: who is to say that Miro isn’t getting exactly what he wanted from his early months in AEW?
Tony Khan certainly used excessive terminology in suggesting WWE had “abused” Miro. However it’s worth wondering if he felt comfortable going that strong because of his direct conversations with Miro himself. Maybe, just maybe, Miro’s confidence and enthusiasm for his work were that low when he made the jump that he needed time to heal the wounds his self-esteem sustained?
And while FTR are indeed doing things their way, what if this is Miro’s way?
He is slowly but surely easing back into things, which that first AEW bout against Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss proves was necessary after six months off. In the meantime, he is not taking himself too seriously, something followers of his social media and Twitch will know is a strength of his. And there has been a weekly promotion of the video-gamer side of his personality, which leans in to his own brand nicely (and in a way that WWE strongly disapproves from their so-called ‘independent contractors’).
It’s easy to assume the booking of Miro so far in AEW has exclusively been the brainchild of the bookers themselves. But the extent of the creative license permitted to the roster has been evident, and it’s hard to see Miro being an exception to that. His slow, steady, light-hearted start is likely to him what debuting in double denim and rolling with Tully Blanchard is to Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood.
Every sage, sitcom and Christmas cracker will strongly advise you that if you’re not sure how to go about something, just be yourself and you will never end up with any regrets. In AEW, Miro is being himself after pretending to be Russian and hiding in a tank to accrue the love that some fans are now misplacing as criticism of All Elite’s storytelling.
More importantly, Miro is beginning the process of restoring his love for what he does. Hitting the reset button, if you will, so that he can once again feel comfortable in his own skin when it comes to appearing on professional wrestling TV.
I think we can all agree that this is far more important than “being pushed” or “being buried”, especially since those terms have been bludgeoned beyond any true meaning by the collective.
This time around, Miro will do things his way. It won’t be as quick and easy as a fleeting megapush, but the end result will be far more organic and, with all luck, last a great deal longer.