Formerly one of the WWE’s top up-and-coming talents, Alex Riley‘s wrestling career took an odd turn after he was sent to NXT. Most fans will recall that WWE originally considered Alex Riley someone with a promising future. However, despite his brilliance and early support, Riley’s career eventually fizzled extremely peculiarly.
Riley’s Backstage Heat Starts The Downhill Spiral
When WWE first partnered Alex Riley with The Miz, it seemed like Riley was destined for greatness inside the business. Since Miz had been the WWE Champion then, so he received a lot of attention. Riley watched the big show of WrestleMania 27 from the stands, demonstrating management’s confidence. He eventually landed a major rivalry with The Miz, and the WWE Universe backed him. This kept giving him positive results as he was maturing from a babyface. He had a lot of charm and could create an exciting match inside the ring. Riley checked off all the boxes Vince McMahon could have considered on paper. So why did he abruptly cease being shoved and vanish off the television? That resulted from intense backstage chemistry with John Cena.
How John Cena Kept Holding Him Back in WWE
Many fans thought Alex Riley would be WWE’s next major Star when he betrayed The Miz. He had a fantastic appearance and charisma, was competent in the ring, and spoke clearly on the microphone. With a decent build, he could compete with the top superstars in main event matchups and had the potential to become a future champion eventer in the organization.
John Cena, however, stopped that (reportedly). Riley got better after Cena supposedly stopped pushing him. Few professional wrestlers are as influential as John Cena, the 16-time WWE Champion. He wasn’t forced to work with any wrestlers in the big show if he didn’t want to. Three years separated his WWE in-ring debut and his transition to commentary. Riley admitted that John Cena, as well as the two of them, have a hate for one another, which was the reason for his lack of push. He admitted to Chris Featherstone of Sportskeeda that the two men’s dislike of one another affected his career.
He began his NXT career doing commentary and finished it in the ring
After an ugly finish to his in-ring singles career, Alex Riley switched to working as a commentator for WWE. His collaboration with The Miz was well over. Therefore he switched to providing commentary for WWE Superstars. He was hired as the program’s color commentator, along with many hosts. Before being transferred to NXT for July 11, 2013 tapings, he also previously appeared on WWE Main Event. Along with others, he offered commentary, including Tom Phillips, William Regal, and Matt Bloom.
In February 2015, he won his first match after retirement by defeating CJ Parker (NJPW’s Juice Robinson). Still, he lost two straight matches against Kevin Owens during the latter’s feud with Finn Balor. The next year, he would compete in a few more NXT matches, losing to NXT superstars, including Apollo Crews, Sami Zayn, and Shinsuke Nakamura. His time in NXT was not successful. He participated in practically no wins and was shortly fired from his commentator position.
How a WWE fan embarrassed Alex Riley
After Wrestlemania 31, his WWE career’s most embarrassing incident occurred on Raw. Roman Reigns & Randy Orton performed a promo in the ring shortly after the huge show that year, wherein Seth Rollins won his WWE Championship in the main event. Alex Riley saw a sign at home among the crowd. Reading the “PUSH RAGE” placard drawn by a fan moved him. As he was known in the WWE, Rage was appreciative that a fan had brought his moniker to the performance to garner greater exposure on TV.
After leaving WWE, he moved on to feature in a popular Netflix series
Fans subsequently saw Alex Riley make an appearance on a popular Netflix show after his in-ring WWE journey ended, and he was released. The “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” promotion, which existed in Las Vegas, Nevada, from 1986 to 1992, served as the inspiration for the drama GLOW. The program, which featured Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and others, chronicled the promotion and the women’s struggle for recognition in a society where males predominated.
The show included Alex Riley in one of the episodes. He portrayed Steel Horse, a professional wrestler during the first season who charms the ladies and has a sexual encounter with another of the major protagonists. He only made one appearance on the program before it was revealed that Netflix would no longer be airing GLOW in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Carlito, Chavo Guerrero, and Awesome Kong were among the other wrestlers who appeared on the program.