What’s that saying from The Sound of Music? “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window?” Well, the same is true on MTV’s The Challenge. As The Challenge: Vendettas comes to a close tonight with a winner crowned on the second half of the reunion, The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars kicks off a new season.
And hosting both is none other than The Real World and Challenge alum Mike “The Miz” Mizanin.
Between moving to Austin and changing diapers (Mizanin became a first-time father to daughter Monroe Sky on March 27), the WWE superstar made time to get us amped for the new season — even if it is missing a certain Banana — and tease us on what to expect from his own upcoming docu-series for USA, Miz & Mrs.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is your second time hosting Champs vs. Stars, and you’ve been hosting reunions and such for a while now: Do you feel a little like you’re home by doing so much on MTV these days?
MIKE “THE MIZ” MIZANIN: Yeah, MTV gave me my start, it gave me my confidence, it gave me everything, if you will… If I didn’t try out [for The Real World], I would have went to college, I would have went back home to Cleveland, probably got a job, got a family, and lived there for the rest of my life. But MTV, Bunim-Murray, and The Real World and The Challenges gave me the opportunity to believe in myself and believe that I could do anything I wanted with my life. Now, here I am, almost 20 years later, hosting The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars, and I have a blast with it. You don’t realize how challenging hosting is until you actually do it, but it is so much fun.
What is it about hosting that’s such a challenge for you?
I usually get about 16 pages of dialogue every night. And they can’t give me everything because you don’t know how the show’s going to go, you don’t know what’s going to happen, so every day is kind of a new day. And every day, I’m given like 16 pages of dialogue of these games. They are so intricate… and I love to memorize everything because I love to challenge myself in seeing if I can memorize 16 pages of dialogue. And I can, believe it or not.
Were you at all surprised by the cast lineup this season? Not all of them are exactly champions.
I always look at it like this, I look at all of the Stars and Champs, and I try to see, is this going to be a captivating, fun, interesting show? And I think they succeed every time. Last season, our ratings were up like 30 percent — it was crazy. And if you thought last season was good, wait until you see this season. This season is insane, and the people that they brought in definitely deserve it.
I think the name Champs, but it’s not necessarily you have to be a champion on there; it’s basically you’ve done this game before. When you have the opportunity to play The Challenge, it is a sport and you can’t just walk in being great at it, you have to practice it, you have to know it, you have to have knowledge of it. And if you don’t, you will sink.
Tell me about the setup this season, with the Champs and Stars being blended onto the same teams.
Last time, the Champs totally dominated. It was a slaughterhouse. The thing is, the Stars don’t know how to play the game, and the Champs are veterans and pros at this game. I think it was genius of MTV to blend them together because then there’s so many dynamics that take place. And I don’t want to spoil anything, but just because the teams are blended together doesn’t really mean that they are blended together.
What can you tease about this batch of Stars?
Some of them aren’t messing around. These Stars really want to win it. You look at guys like Casper Smart, Arian Foster, Booby Gibson: These guys are out there to play the game and to win. And they’re very, very awesome at it. The Stars pick it up quick — and a lot quicker now because if they blend them together, guess what? They get to learn from their teammates. And once they learn the game, then it all changes.
Did any of the Stars really surprise you this season?
A Star that surprised me was Casper. Casper is so competitive, and not just with the other teammates, but with himself. Louise Hazel is back for a second time and now she knows the game, now she knows how to play… Brooke Hogan is a force to be reckoned with. I mean, that’s Hulk Hogan’s daughter — you’re not going to mess with Hulk Hogan’s daughter. And, believe it or not, who really surprised me was Lil Mama. She may be like 90 lbs., but man does that girl got some fight.
We haven’t seen a lot of Star and Champ hookups yet on this series, but there’s a moment in the teaser between Kailah Casillas and Drake Bell…
Let’s put it this way: Whenever you put 20 good-looking, fun, outgoing people in a game show or a challenge, things happen. It always happens. So sit back, get your popcorn ready, and enjoy.
Was it weird not having Johnny Bananas in the mix? It’s been ages since he sat out a Challenge season.
When I started hosting these shows, you can kind of see who the people are that you can revolve story lines around because they just have so much personality. And the way Bananas plays this game is unlike anybody — he plays to win each and every time. And if you bash that man, he will literally be very upset, and he will get you back by any cost. So not having Bananas on the show, obviously you always miss Bananas, but I think people can fill in the blank, you know what I mean? Guys like Devin, who I think is absolutely hysterical. C.T., Tony, Wes, these guys all know how to play the game, and not only that, they know how to carry a show and really make it captivating. And not only that, the Stars really bring it this time.
Challenge madness aside, you have your own show coming soon. How does Miz & Mrs. compare with The Real World?
Real World, I was stuck in a house with seven strangers, having a job, living in New York, and I was 19 or 20 at the time, and I was a kid. Now, you don’t even call them reality shows anymore, it’s more like unscripted docu-series. This show is a 30-minute comedy, and my wife, myself, my mom, my dad, Maryse’s mom, our dogs, or cats, our new daughter, everything is part of it.
Sometimes my wife just cracks me up and makes me laugh, and I can’t wait for people to really see it. And it’ll be coming out very, very soon, like this year it’ll be coming out. And we’re almost done. You’ve got to think about what’s going on in my life right now…
I’ve been pooped on, I’ve been peed on, and as much as I like to think of myself as an A-lister and a huge celebrity, Monroe Sky does not care. She only thinks, “Feed me, change me, do whatever I need you to do,” and I am at her service. So we’re documenting all of that, and this is a docu-series of what it’s like to be in the entertainment industry and have your first child. My wife and I, we used to be on the road 24/7… Now, I’m just on the road and my wife is taking care of our beautiful baby girl. Then when I come back, guess what, I’m tagged in. So now I’m coming off the road, I’m tired, I’m injured, I’m sore, and I’m rocking a baby.
The Challenge: Vendettas concludes Tuesday at 9 p.m. on MTV, followed by the season premiere of The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars at 10 p.m.