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How Growing Up a Cleveland Sports Fan Shaped the Miz

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Cleveland is demanding our attention. From the Republican National Convention to the Cavaliers’ NBA championship, the Indians’ recent dominance to a surprising tech scene, we’re thinking about the city more than ever. This week,​The Ringer ​is exploring why Cleveland matters.

On the latest episode of The Masked Man Show, David Shoemaker and the Miz touched on what it means to be a Cleveland sports fan for Cleveland Week in between their discussion of the WWE draft. The Miz explained why he doesn’t own any particular Browns player’s jersey and why Cleveland is the home of three of wrestling’s biggest names. Read an excerpt of that conversation below, and check out the full episode here. This transcript has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

David Shoemaker: Listen, I’ll give you my top 10 list in a second but before I get there, this is Cleveland Week on, we’re having a special theme week dedicated to the city of Cleveland.

The Miz: Well, it’s about time we get all this recognition. I went to the ESPYs and literally I was like, everything was Cleveland, I’ve never been prouder in my life about being a person from Cleveland.

D.S.: Has it been tough to be a fan, to be a Cleveland resident in the sports world growing up?

T.M.: Oh my god! Are you kidding me?! Do you even need to ask that question? Do you have any idea how hard it is to be a Cleveland fan? I mean, I’m going back in the days of Bernie Kosar and, you know, when I was a child, and Mark Price and when the teams were actually good. And then going through a huge, just slump when we got, like, Shawn Kemp when he was, you know, out of shape, and then we got, like, 45 million quarterbacks, the Indians are always up and down, they’re kind of like that .500 team … But this year? This is the year for the Indians. They’re really taking control and really doing great in the pitching as well as hitting and it’s fun to watch.

D.S.: Did you have any embarrassing Cleveland Browns quarterback jerseys in your closet?

T.M.: Oh, I refused to buy a Browns jersey that has any Brown’s name on it, the reason being the best players always get traded, or they leave, or they end up not being what they were supposed to be. Like I remember I was like, "I’m gonna buy a Trent Richardson jersey." And I was like, "Eh, I’ll wait. I’ll wait two years and then we’ll see." And then he gets traded. I go, "OK, I guess I’m not buying that one." Then I was like, "I’ll buy a Manziel jersey!" I was like, "Ah, well, good thing I didn’t buy that one." You know, "I’ll buy a Josh Gordon jersey," "Oh, not gonna buy that one." You know what I mean? It’s like, our superstars, something always happens to them. So, you know, I think I’m going to stick with just putting something else on the back until someone can prove to me that they’re not just a one-hit wonder, that they’re not just there for one year.

D.S.: It’s funny because, you know, with Kevin Durant’s free agency, all that stuff just happened, like there are all these fan bases across the country that just convinced themselves on a daily basis that they’re about to get Kevin Durant or they’re going to win the championship this year regardless. It’s kind of incredible that you as a Cleveland Browns fan were going in the total opposite direction and, like, not even buying jerseys because you knew you were going to lose the guy or he was gonna get hurt.

T.M.: Yeah, I mean that kind of happens all the time with us. So many different things have happened and just to have that pure moment of the NBA Finals and LeBron coming back and taking us to where we needed to be. He said, "Listen, I needed to go to Miami to find out what a winning franchise is and I’m gonna bring a winning franchise back. I’m gonna bring back all the information I learned and take it to the Cleveland Cavaliers," and he did exactly that. And I thank him because I was one of those people that was very angry with LeBron when he left, but when he wrote that note [in Sports Illustrated] it made me understand why he did and I’m so happy to be from Cleveland because we waited a long time for that [championship] moment and that moment was sheer bliss.

D.S.: Thankfully you don’t have to pick another city to live in and turn your back on Cleveland, you get to be a Cleveland guy no matter where WWE travel takes you. You also got Dolph Ziggler on the roster, who’s a Cleveland guy, and now Johnny Gargano is sitting there, is working down [WWE] NXT, what’s in the Cleveland water that produces three, at least, really great ring workers?

T.M.: I think it’s the hard work ethic. You know, I think we are the type of people that are always trying to prove ourselves to everyone. You know, everyone always calls us "The Mistake on the Lake," everyone always makes fun of, you know, the Browns, the Cavs, the Indians. They’re always knocking us down but we always get up and it makes us work harder for it and I think that’s what it is. So keep naysaying us, keep hating on us on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and all the social media that you want, and all the critics can write blogs about it all they want, but the fact is it just makes us work harder, all that hate. Now I’d rather them hate me than hate a kid in high school that’s just trying to live his life. So hate on me. All you want. I can take it.

D.S.: Good. Well, listen. The Ringer is going to be kind of nice to Cleveland this week but I’m sure we’ll go back to hating it next week.

T.M.: As long as we get one week. Thank you for one week, I appreciate it.

D.S.: Cleveland has definitely earned it.