July 29 (UPI) -- USA Network has launched a new version of water sports competition series Cannonball, a show that co-host and WWE Superstar Mike "The Miz" Mizanin hopes will help people forget about their troubles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There's so much drama going on in the world, and this is one of those shows where you can sit down with your entire family and laugh," Mizanin told UPI during a recent interview. "Escape your reality, and just for one hour, laugh and enjoy who you're being surrounded by."
Cannonball features 16 contestants who face off in a variety of water-based challenges to win $10,000. The challenges include the Hurdle Jump, in which contestants are launched from a 70-foot mega-slide and judged by how far they fly into the air, and Surfrider, in which contestants leap onto a surfboard suspended from a zip line and attempt to ride across the water.
Mizanin co-hosts the program with Rocsi Diaz, offering play-by-play commentary and his signature brand of excitement and hype.
"The main objective of my job is literally to have fun because if I'm having fun, the audience is going to have fun," he said.
Contestants often crash or belly flop into the water while trying to complete obstacles. Cannonball's setup allows for normal, everyday people to rise above highly trained athletes who don't always fare as well when being shot out of cannons.
"As much as I like telling everyone that I'm the star of the show, I'm not. The contestants are the star of the show. They are from all walks of life. They come from everywhere," Mizanin said.
The 39-year-old said contestants include radio personalities, videographers and stay-at-home dads.
"We had a guy who just enjoys cats," he said. "We had a 50-year-old woman who was more ripped than I am."
The reasons for competing on Cannonball range from trying to conquer fears to wanting to buy an engagement ring.
"Some of them are going for the $10,000 because that's going to change their life," Mizanin. said.
Despite being a WWE Superstar, Mizanin was not allowed to try any of the Cannonball obstacles, even though he wanted to. He wants to get more involved physically should the show be renewed for a second season.
Mizanin continues to appear weekly on WWE SmackDown, where the devilish A-Lister has formed a tag team with his longtime partner, John Morrison. The pair host talk show Miz TV, were the SmackDown Tag Team Champions earlier in the year and have feuded with Universal Champion Braun Strowman.
Amid the pandemic, WWE has continued to produce new episodes of its weekly television programs, which include Raw, NXT and SmackDown, and monthly pay-per-view events. The shows are taped at the company's Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., with no fans attending. WWE has placed trainees and NXT stars in the audience to give a more normal feel to the broadcasts.
"It's different, you know. I'm used to having 10,000 to 60,000 people in an arena cheering or booing me. Most of the time they're booing, chanting 'You suck.' So, for me, it's kind of nice not having people chanting, 'You suck.' However, I do miss it. I miss it a lot," the grappler said.
Mizanin says WWE is trying to be creative, presenting more cinematic matches that take place beyond the ring, such as the Boneyard match between The Undertaker and AJ Styles at WrestleMania 36. He and Morrison, meanwhile, have released comedic music videos on SmackDown.
"We've been able to keep up and give people the entertainment that they deserve, and that's how dedicated we are to our fans," Mizanin said. "We're being more creative and utilizing everything that WWE has and creating content that people are really grasping to."
Mizanin also believes that his chemistry with Morrison is better than ever. The duo, before re-forming in 2020, teamed up in 2007.
"We've evolved -- as a tag team, as men and as personalities. John and I, no matter what decade it is, we make each other better," Mizanin said.
Cannonball airs at 8 p.m. EDT Thursdays on USA.