In a world where there are winners and there are losers, two men have risen above to become the heroes of WWE‘s empty arena shows. They are John Morrison and the Miz, the greatest tag team of the 21st century. BE JEALOUS…Or rather, be thankful, because it has been the antics of the Awesome One and the Greatness of Guru that has been a lone bright spot in a tough few weeks of fanless shows.
As it turns out, it may be harder to perform in front of a crowd of none than one would have thought because Monday night marked another episode with its fair share of cringe-worthy moments from WWE’s attempts to stage Raw and SmackDown, live from the Performance Center in front of a bunch of empty seats. Upon first blush, the idea of wrestling in front of no crowd didn’t seem like it would be that bad. I mean sure, there would be an absence on some level, but ultimately, the action is in the ring not in the stands. After all, how much could the fans possibly add to the action?
It turns out a lot. Like, a lot a lot.
Raw and SmackDown staging live matches (maybe that’s why they’ve done so few of them) and promos without crowd reaction has been a revelation in a bad way. With cameras focused on empty seats and no fans to chant “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks,” or “boo/yay” or provide any sort of heat or pop, matches have merely become a series of sounds heard from wrestlers hitting the mat, the occasional ringside cheering by tag team partners or managers, or even the presence of guest commentators. This was done most effectively on their first PC show when Triple H joined Michael Cole and brought with him humor and a fair share of barbs at the man he used to torment during the DX days.
Promos have fallen flat, none more obvious than Stone Cold Steve Austin trying to hype up 3:16 Day to an absent crowd consisting of only Byron Saxon holding up cards grading each statement. Seeing Austin seemingly flounder at times and hearing him say, “tough crowd,” on several occasions in an attempt to make the most of his segment, only added to the cringe. It was awkward and it was clear even a guy like Austin wasn’t quite prepared for how to deliver what would have been a crowd-charged, popping moment of celebration and thousands and thousands of “WHAT?” chants in unison, in front of a quiet building.
Both John Cena and Roman Reigns have acknowledged it being weird that there was no polarized 50/50 reaction to their entrances, directly addressing a sea of empty seats. Rob Gronkowski was there to bring the hype for WrestleMania but with no crowd to cheer his SmackDown debut, Gronk’s ridiculous dancing and in-ring antics with Mojo Rawley just didn’t hit the right note. Even Paul Heyman‘s promo with Brock Lesnar on Raw suffered from a lack of crowd noise.
But in the midst of all of the awkwardness and cringeworthy moments, one duo has stood apart. Because “in a world full of winners and losers, two men have risen above…” That’s right. The intro to the Dirt Sheet is apropos here because when it comes to WWE’s PC MVPS, hands down, that honor belongs to John Morrison and the Miz. And that should come as no surprise that two men who largely got over due to the wildly popular success of their web show, impersonations and deadpans to the camera, would be pretty good at entertaining even with no audience.
“I Can’t Possibly Suck, I’m Not Orlando!”
When Miz and Morrison hit the ring, following through on their usual schtick and crowd-pleasing or crowd-irritating (depends who you ask) antics, there was a buzz there that no other performer had really achieved. Their segment only drove home the point as Miz and Morrison took turns asking questions of their adoring audience by asking the crowd to speak up if they disagreed with certain statements regarding their dominance and status within WWE.
“Speak up, if there is anyone here who does not think that Miz and Morrison are the greatest tag team of the 21st century,” Morrison asked. Silence.
“If there is anyone here who doesn’t think I am the greatest technician this business has ever seen, speak now,” Miz chimed in. Again, silence.
It was determined last Friday on #Smackdown that I am the greatest wrestling technician this business has ever seen. You had your chance to speak last Friday and you didn’t. -The Miz aka Greatest Wrestling Technician this business has ever seen https://t.co/uefrYWhSYI
— The Miz (@mikethemiz) March 16, 2020
But it wasn’t awkward as in the case of so many other recent segments. In fact, it was perfect. Miz and Morrison were the heels playing the part. With no crowd, there was no one to question Miz and Morrison’s statements as fact. They knew that, played into it, and it worked incredibly well. Morrison took the opportunity to shoot one last shot and if anyone questioned if his relentless self-promotion of the movie he directed, produced, wrote, starred in, etc, would end in the WWE, they had their answer. Morrison plugged Boone the Bounty Hunter as “the greatest cinematic achievement of our generation,” a statement that was finally challenged, not by the crowd but by the Miz.
Formerly the Chick Magnet, Miz had become the must-see superstar, the Hollywood A-Lister, in Morrison’s time away from the company. So the star of several Marine movies took some issue with Morrison’s claim. Their interaction could have fallen flat without fans to laugh along, but it didn’t, because Miz and Morrison are longtime friends who have a fantastic dynamic and chemistry that never went away.
As funny as that exchange was, the best moment of the night came when the two continued their promo. Noting there would be no one there to chant “You suck,” to which Morrison coughed the words under his breath, the Miz responded, “I couldn’t possibly suck, I’m not from Orlando.” That’s right folks, Miz, with not a single fan in a single seat, went to the tried and true heel gimmick of insulting the hometown fans. He played to a crowd that wasn’t there but unlike so many others who have floundered without an audience recently, this joke landed perfectly.
On January 31st, WWE revealed that Miz and Morrison would be bringing back the Dirt Sheet, something we called for on this site earlier that same day. The Dirt Sheet is what got Miz and Morrison over initially and it was hilarious. But when WWE brought it back, it felt more like a film trailer/preview and not quite the Dirt Sheet of old. They tried to bring it back proper the following week but the New Day, Usos and Roode & Ziggler interrupted. Which, if you substitute Roode & Ziggler with Heavy Machinery, is exactly what happened this past week..Well sort of. And once again, it was a highlight moment of what has been some real rough waters of the empty arena shows.
“They Keep Interrupting that Ham!”
The Awesome One and the Guru of Greatness were introduced to their old Dirt Sheet intro and we even got a new “I’m John Morrison” fact. But the action kicked into high gear when Miz and Morrison polled the crowd to see who they would want to see the tag champs face at WrestleMania and there appeared, the biggest New Day, Usos and Heavy Machinery fans on the planet, each dressed the part, each played by Miz and Morrison, who were simultaneously playing themselves, often to incorrectly refer to the Heavy Machinery fans as “ham,” when they were dressed as bacon. In the course of the two-three minute segment, Miz and Morrison managed to insult all of their would-be challengers, by commenting on the Usos’ ridiculous ring attire, New Day’s terrible intro and Heavy Machinery’s blue collar blue collarness. Oh and Morrison was dressed as a unicorn so, well worth the price of admission.
Again, Miz and Morrison played to the absence of the crowd in a humorous and insulting way. They didn’t just acknowledge and marvel at the fact of how weird it was to cut a promo in front of no one. In fact, they never talk about things being weird at all. They just continue to be heels, who know their own greatness and aren’t afraid to remark on how great it is there is no one there to boo them.
Miz and Morrison save Smackdown this week. 🥰😍 pic.twitter.com/Jbh0Efpgd1
— jonny tran 👑 (@JonnyLeTran6) March 21, 2020
“Hey Hey, Ho Ho. Miz and Morrison!”
It’s hard to explain why Miz and Morrison’s schtick is one of few that is still working without crowds but one reason is likely the two men behind the act. Miz and Morrison know how to work a crowd and they also, as it turns out, know how to work a crowd that is a bunch of empty seats. Simply put, they know how to work and always have. Empty Performance Center or not, that much still hasn’t changed.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world. WWE fan? Check out the WWE Network to fulfill all of your WWE needs and catch SmackDown every Friday night at 8 PM ET on FOX.