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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: April 7, 2013 - The Next Stop on the Road to Recovery for Mike Mizanin
By The Doc
Jan 11, 2013 - 11:22:57 AM

April 7, 2013

Some people just cannot be good, no matter how hard they try or how motivated that they are to tweak their personalities. We’ve learned that in recent weeks from Alberto Del Rio. While we can give him credit for attempting to divert his natural inclination to be someone’s enemy, it is too deep rooted in his psychological makeup. The Miz, who had undergone a major transformation last year after rehabilitating an addictive personality that had nearly cost him his life and career, had inspired Del Rio. When Miz came back to television in September and received a hero’s welcome, Del Rio found himself wanting the admiration and respect that the people gave to a man who had recognized a problem and taken the steps necessary to rectify it. Del Rio had never realized that what he had commanded from people with his inherited wealth was not admiration and respect, but rather envy.

His father had told him that “you are the company that you keep.” So, he reached out to Miz and a friendship sprouted. They didn’t always agree on things, but they maintained a mutual respect and cordiality that allowed the fans to accept Del Rio as being better for having associated with Miz instead of Miz being worse for having associated with Del Rio. Miz’s main gripe with Del Rio was his involvement with the Union, but Alberto had helped him understand that there were good intentions behind his financial backing of the lawsuit that had hung over the WWE for nearly a year. All that they, collectively, wanted was a safer working environment. It’s amazing what a little pleasant sit down can do for the tensions surrounding a situation.

Everything seemed to be going well for Del Rio until the Royal Rumble. Miz eliminated him. Things escalated when Miz eliminated him again in a #1 contender battle royal for “The Road to Wrestlemania” PPV in February. Obviously, these were not intentional acts of betrayal, but merely one competitor doing what he had to do. Friends can compete with each other. They can even get angry when they do. Hell, Miz had punted a basketball into the rafters of the gym where they were playing pick up a few weeks ago. It’s what happens when competitive people lose, sometimes. Del Rio is not wired to be able to let it go, though. In his mind, every perceived slight toward him must be rectified. He has always felt the need to impose a consequence on those that he feels have wronged him.

Out on the town one night, Del Rio and Rosa Mendes were at the hotel bar with Miz and Maryse. Miz had reached a point where he could be around the boys while they were having a good time after their shows. It was kind of a common theme amongst the superstars to reinforce that he was doing well to be capable of such a thing; it’s no easy task for a recovering addict. So, it was very unusual when the bartender placed a vodka on the rocks in front of him. Maryse immediately looked around to see if someone was playing a cruel joke on him. Then, some fan walked up to him and said that someone had given him a ten spot to deliver a pill bottle to him – it contained the very painkillers that Miz had routinely mixed with vodka. Maryse became irate.

Miz was many things. Sure, he was upset and disheartened. What he was more so, though, was tempted. He was only several months removed from rehab, still caught between the mindset of “one time is OK” and “absolutely not ever again.” His emotions toward his addiction was like a man looking into a pond, staring at the image of his former self that looks exactly like his current self. The drink right in front of him and the pill bottle in his hand were like someone had dropped a pebble in the pond, rippling the image and reminding him that his past and his present were still mixing together to shape his future. When Justin Gabriel, a friend and associate of Del Rio’s, disappointingly approached and told him that it was Alberto that he’d seen pay the fan to make the delivery, Miz just grabbed Maryse by the arm and walked out of the bar. Del Rio had gone to the bathroom and saw the drink still sitting there, but no pill bottle. With no one around, he smirked.

At the live event the next day, Del Rio walked right up to him and admitted what he’d done, acting as if it were a joke. Maryse gave him a piece of her mind. Miz was not angry anymore. He just simply told Del Rio that it wasn’t a good idea for them to hang out anymore. Alberto seemed surprised. Once Miz had walked away, Alberto tried to reason with Maryse. When she told him that Miz had sat there looking at the pill bottle all night, she was taken aback when Del Rio acted dissatisfied and even had the gall to half question and half state out loud, as if it were some huge shock, that “he didn’t take any.”

Word spread quickly around the locker room about what Del Rio had done and said and, since the backstage interaction had conveniently taken place on camera and been shown on Raw the following week, what little amity Alberto had earned with the fans was gone. He got booed out of the building wherever they went. A stronger man committed to changing his stripes, so to state, would have tried to rectify the situation, but Del Rio quickly spiraled back down to where he had been before. His feelings toward Miz rapidly changed from appreciation to resentment. Miz was still being courteous, making small talk when they were around each other. Maryse even told Alberto that it was Miz’s way of giving him the opportunity to make up for what he’d done; that he wanted to be his friend and that he enjoyed hanging out with him. The switch, though, had flipped in Del Rio’s mind.

It must have been a dimmer switch.

The night that Miz became his challenger at Wrestlemania for the United States title that he’d held for six months, the intensity was turned up to a level that nearly made his figurative light bulbs explode. He attacked Miz backstage and poured vodka all over him, shoving pills into his mouth. It was as if he was determined to make the Miz have a relapse. Who knows, really, what he was thinking.

One of the qualities about Miz that has made him such a recent favorite of the fans has been his even keeled nature. He’s loud and garish in a crowd, but if you have a conversation with him, he comes across as a down-to-earth guy. Whereas he once came across as if the world owed him his celebrity, he now seems humbled by it all and thankful that he has a second chance to live his dream. Those same qualities have made Del Rio terribly frustrated. He goaded Miz into a fight numerous times after the backstage booze bath. At no point has Miz retaliated, instead doing the talk shows for the WWE’s Mania media blitz and being one of their new go-to interviewees. Not even striking Maryse, accidental or not, prompted Miz to retaliate. She has actually been very good for Miz. Rather than provoking him to act on her behalf, she – bloodied lip and all – told him that the best way he could act as her knight in shining armor was to take the US title in her honor at Wrestlemania. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a woman in wrestling doing the right thing and encouraging that a good example be set for the impressionable young people that comprise the bulk of the audience.

The problem is that nobody really knows how Miz feels right now. Not even Maryse. It was a huge step for him to go to rehab and he learned a lot from being there, but if his journey away from addiction is like a cross country trip from New York to Los Angeles, he’s only gotten about as far as hometown in Ohio. He still has a long way to go. Is he under control? Most of the time. Does he have for his concoction what some people would feel as deep, intense hunger cravings? About half of the week. Are there still physical withdrawals? You bet your ass there are.

During the Hall of Fame ceremony last night, Miz had a withdrawal. You just cannot predict when they are going to occur, but he’s become adept at hiding them. If you watched him closely during Mick Foley’s acceptance speech, you might have noticed that gleam of sweat across his forehead. He was having a vision. Odd as they often are, this might have been the strangest yet. He was in the desert and saw a tiny lizard that asked him to follow closely behind. He shrunk to the lizard’s size as they approached its home. When they walked inside the home, it was perhaps the most barren abode that Miz had ever seen. The lizard asked, “Isn’t this great?” The Miz took a close look around to see if he was missing something, but when he nothing on the walls, no furniture, and no windows – just sand for a floor and little more – he told the lizard, awkwardly, “Well, I guess but it seems kind of empty.” The lizard looked down at the floor and suddenly it began to shift. Coming up through the floor was heavy doses of water that quickly began to engulf the entire home. The Miz tried to exit through the door, but he couldn’t open it. As the water level rose toward the roof and he could no longer touch the floor, he watched as the lizard swam around in circles, eyes locked on the Miz with intentions that he couldn’t understand. He could barely breath, as he waited for the pressure to become too great for the house to withstand. His last hope was that the walls would cave or break. It never happened, though. Just as the Miz took his final gasp, he snapped out of his trance when Maryse squeezed his hand.

Such mental imagery might him two or three times a month, now. In rehab, it was two or three times a day. He’s pushing through it. Alberto has not made it easy, but he feels like he’s being tested for a reason and if he keeps passing these tests, then it will only further his recovery. Make no mistake, though, he’s looking forward to tonight’s United States title fight. It will be sweet redemption to take the belt from him. When Del Rio poured vodka in his mouth and tried to shove pills down his throat, he internally hyperventilated so much that he blacked out. It was his body’s way of shutting down his mind to prevent him from swallowing anything; even still, what you didn’t see on camera was Maryse giving him ipecac to make him throw up even the tiniest traces that may have gotten into his system. He was asked by the WWE higher ups if it would be OK to show the footage taken of the scene, but he didn’t think that it was a part of the healing process that people needed to see. However, that didn’t change the fact that his colleagues and friends had to see it. That was something he had hoped that no one outside of the doctors and staff in the rehab facility would have to see.

Wrestlemania is just a few hours away. He and Alberto are scheduled to fight in the second match. The will to win is not supposed to be intertwined with the will to stay clean of addiction, but he can’t help feeling that they are linked. On this day, his literal road to recovery has come to New York. If he loses tonight, his fear is that his figurative road will go back to New York. “I have to win,” he said to himself while he put on his gear. “I can’t lose.”

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