Best known for his time in WWE under the ring name Alex Riley, American professional wrestler Kevin Robert Kiley Jr would slay his opponents using his strength and words as a commentator. While he participated in the second season of NXT, he let out a secret: “I went to WWE to be a fighter, not to become a commentator”. With interesting career facts like this, we present you with more juicy things about Alex Riley’s time in the WWE, and more!
9 Alex Riley’s Career Recap Facts To Know Before He Returns!
1. Is Alex Riley returning to wrestling?
Well, Alex Riley announced that he would be returning to wrestling via his Instagram two years ago in 2019. This was also the time that he announced that he would come for John Cena in addition to stating that he was bi-polar.
His leave was first announced during a May 11 episode of the NXT taping when Riley worked his final WWE match. During the match, he was defeated by Shinsuke Nakamura. Along with several other wrestlers Riley was released from his WWE contract on May 6, 2016.
2. Alex Riley was born in the 80s:
He was born April 28, 1981, as Kevin Robert Kiley Jr. and would grow up to be a former football player. Riley’s father, Kevin Kiley, Sr., is a sportscaster and reporter, so it’s not surprising that the man had a flair for commentary.
Riley’s mother, Lauren (née Riley), is a former Miss Virginia and the wrestler also has a younger brother named Kristopher. The American wrestler attended Robinson High School in Fairfax, VA where he played football and basketball.
The future WWE wrestler then went to Boston College, where he majored in communications and at the same time for the Boston College Eagles football team, initially as a quarterback, before turning to linebacker during the 2001 season. Even though he is American, Alex has also played for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League.
3. Alex Riley said that working as a commentator was frustrating:
In 2017, Alex Riley indicated that he did not like to work as a commentator in WWE, since he wanted to be a fighter and believed he had what it takes to be WWE Champion. One day the wrestler was interviewed by The Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling podcast, where he spoke among other topics about his appearance on GLOW and his stay in WWE.
Riley was questioned about how he liked being at the comment table during his time in NXT but the wrestler dropped some truth bombs on this podcast saying he simply wanted to wrestle. “I guess many times I have been asked if I liked it, so I will answer: No. I went to WWE to be a fighter, I really wanted to fight and I was athletic enough and had the necessary tools to be the best fighter. I always felt like I had what it took to be WWE Champion. Being 250 pounds, a former football player, and sitting behind a table was frustrating for me. That said, I loved when the red light went on and I commented because it was fun, and I was always a huge fan of WWE, so I knew the product better than anyone and had a great perspective on what it takes to not only get past high school and University to be a semi-pro soccer player because I’ve been an athlete all my life and you’re not going to put anyone at that table who had more sports experience than me or who knew better what goes on in the ring. I’ve broken my back in the ring many times, I’ve had my ass kicked so I have a lot of knowledge.”
4. Injury, injury, injury:
Towards the end of 2010, Riley suffered a legitimate hip injury that sidelined him for several weeks. After his return, Riley was largely relegated to appearing on Superstars, defeating the likes of Drew McIntyre and JTG after the end of 2011.
By the end of 2012, Riley announced that he would undergo elbow and knee surgery. Then after a storyline involving Kevin Owens, the NXT Champion, harassing him on commentary, Riley returned to televised competition only to get his knee injured again!
On the March 11 edition of NXT, after defeating CJ Parker, Owens called Riley “the dumbest man in NXT” for returning to the ring and threatened to destroy his career.
Then Kevin Owens attacked Riley during an NXT taping on April 22, in which Owens Kayfabe injured his knee. On May 1, it was announced that Riley would undergo surgery to repair legitimate degenerative arthritis in his knee.
Riley returned from injury on the January 27, 2016 episode of NXT after eight months of inactivity, sporting longer hair and beard, in a winning effort against Bull Dempsey, turning heel for the first time since 2011.
5. Riley went by the name Carson Oakley at the Florida Championship Wrestling:
In 2007, Kevin Robert Kiley Jr signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and was assigned to their developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). On October 30, 2007, he debuted in a losing effort against Shawn Osbourne under his real name Kevin Kiley, and later faced the likes of Sebastian Slater and Jack Gabriel.
In September 2008, he changed his ring name to Carson Oakley and began teaming with Scotty Goldman, and the pair unsuccessfully challenged TJ Wilson and DH Smith for the Florida Tag Team Championship in November.
As Oakley, he underwent another name change, calling himself Alex Riley and developing the gimmick of a college jock, with a barrister’s jacket as part of his outfit in early December. On March 18, 2010, in a winning effort, Carson won against Justin Gabriel and Wade Barrett in a triple threat match to succeed in taking the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship. After winning the title, he called Barrett and paid him for his services as a hired help. At the FCW tapings on July 22, Riley lost the title to Mason Ryan in a triple threat match, also involving Johnny Curtis. At the September 22 television tapings, Riley faced Ryan in a rematch but lost via submission.
6. Riley was the famous “Analyst” between 2013 and 2015:
Color commentary came calling for Riley after his lack of in-ring success.
Riley moved into a color commentator role during the June 24 taping of Raw where he debuted as well. Riley became a regular commentator on NXT beginning with the July 11 tapings. He also frequently served as a color commentator in the Main Event.
Following the launch of the WWE Network, Riley became known as “The Analyst” Alex Riley and took on a personality similar to that of a sports commentator or agent. Riley was a regular member of the expert panel on the Raw and SmackDown pre-shows on the WWE Network, and also made several pay-per-view appearances in this role.
Between the years 2013 and 2014, Riley made occasional in-ring appearances at live WWE events, earning non-televised victories over the likes of Tyson Kidd, Curt Hawkins, and Heath Slater.
7. Here’s how Alex became a protégé of The Miz:
Between 2010 and 2011, Riley had an alliance with The Miz after initially announcing that The Miz would be Riley’s mentor for the second season of NXT. Kevin Robert Kiley Jr made his NXT debut on the June 8 episode, but did not fight in a match. The wrestler successfully made his in-ring debut on the following edition of NXT, defeating Kaval.
Kaval returned the favor two weeks later, pinning Riley in a six-man tag team match but as the night went on, Alex was ranked fourth in the first poll. In the second poll on the July 27 episode of NXT, Alex Riley moved up to third place, just behind Kaval and Michael McGillicutty. On August 9 the rookies appeared in a six-man tag team match on Raw, in which Kevin Robert Kiley Jr teamed with Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty to defeat Kaval, Lucky Cannon, and Percy Watson.
However, the following night, Riley’s team lost a rematch and fell to fifth place in the poll, narrowly avoiding elimination. Riley was eliminated from NXT at the season finale on August 31, finishing in third place overall. Riley and the other eliminated rookies attacked Kaval after Kaval was announced as the winner.
Riley at the WWE then appeared on the September 6 episode of Raw, when he tried to help his mentor The Miz, who had been placed in a submission hold called the LeBell Lock by Daniel Bryan, but ended up being placed in the hold himself.
Replacing The Miz in a submission match against Bryan, Alex appeared again the following week, but lost. On the September 20 episode of Raw, The Miz announced that he had signed Riley to a “personal services contract”, allowing him to accompany The Miz to ringside and continue to appear on Raw. As a protégé of The Miz, Riley interfered in his matches, including at the Bragging Rights pay-per-view, where Riley unsuccessfully tried to help The Miz’s team win. The Miz also used Riley as a replacement for himself in matches, leading to Riley meeting and losing to John Cena on November 15 and Ezekiel Jackson in a King of the Ring qualifying match as a result on November 22. The following week, Riley interfered in the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match for the WWE Championship between Jerry Lawler and The Miz, who had won the championship the previous week. Riley stopped Lawler from winning twice, before Lawler put him on a table. Alex Riley also helped The Miz retain the championship again at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in a Tables match, during which Randy Orton put him through a table.
In late 2014 and early 2015, Riley started a campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #FreeRiley, apparently in an attempt to get management to take notice of him and hire the wrestler as an in-ring competitor, given that his latest televised fight was in 2013.
He was arrested for DUI in Florida in November 2010, however, the charges were dismissed in July 2011 after Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Dick Greco Jr. ruled that police did not have probable cause to stop Riley’s vehicle and thus violated his fourth amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
He once called his manager a deadweight:
As Oakley, won over Beverly Mullins as manager, and to fit his jock gimmick, Mullins adopted a prom queen gimmick back in 2008.
In 2009, he joined FCW General Manager Abraham Washington’s cabinet, being called Washington’s “top draft pick”, and as a result, Carson Oakley aka Alex Riley named number one to Tyler Reks’ FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship in July. In August, he lost in a triple threat match that included Reks and Johnny Curtis. In mid-2009, he competed in several dark matches before Raw and SmackDown, wrestling Jamie Noble, Montel Vontavious Porter, and Jimmy Wang Yang, and also appeared at house shows.
On the August 30 episode of FCW, Riley left Mullins as his manager, calling her “deadweight”.
BTS drama with John Cena:
One day, during a podcast with The Two Man Power Trip Alex Riley was asked about his incident with John Cena. Riley has stated that his WWE career took a turn for the worse after defending himself backstage with John Cena, and saying that Cena followed this up by using the power he had behind the scenes to negatively influence his career.
The story goes that the wrestler had a run-in with Cena behind the scenes, a fact that they say cost him his career. Riley says he won’t comment for now: “I don’t think I’m going to say anything that other people haven’t already said. But I will. There was an incident that affected the course of my career, however I’m not going to talk about it right now and “That’s why I’ve been debating a lot whether to tell or not. I’m not in the habit of destroying anyone’s career, so right now I won’t talk about it, but one day I will. It was a very tough situation that I dealt with.”
So what happened between John Cena and Alex Riley? Here’s what happened. During the February 28 episode of Raw, John Cena challenged Riley to a match that, if Cena won, Riley would no longer be The Miz’s apprentice. The Miz accepted the match on Riley’s behalf, and later that night, Cena and Riley faced each other in a steel cage match. Kevin Robert Kiley Jr lost the match despite interference from The Miz. The angle was used to write Kevin Robert Kiley Jr as Carson Oakley off television, because the wrestler was scheduled to be sent back to Florida Championship Wrestling to be repackaged.
Even then Kevin Robert Kiley Jr appeared on the March 14 episode of Raw, interfering in The Miz’s match against the Indian wrestler The Great Khali. The following week, Riley announced that The Miz had rehired him, this time as The Miz’s Vice President of Corporate Communications. He accompanied The Miz to his WrestleMania XXVII match against Cena where he interfered several times, throwing Cena into an exposed turnbuckle, attacking him with his briefcase, and distracting the referee.
The Dolph Ziggler feud in 2013:
Alex Riley began a feud with United States Champion Dolph Ziggler On the August 1 episode of Raw, beginning with a verbal confrontation. The wrestler and Ziggler faced each other the following week, with Riley winning via disqualification after Vickie Guerrero, Ziggler’s manager, slapped him. On the August 15 episode of Raw, Riley lost to Jack Swagger due to interference from Guerrero, who also managed Swagger. Riley defeated Swagger in a rematch the following week after Guerrero and Ziggler distracted him by arguing at ringside. On the night of champions, Riley competed in a fatal four-way match for the United States Championship also involving Ziggler, Swagger, and John Morrison, in which Ziggler retained his title.
In 2012, Riley went on a 14-match losing streak, losing to Brodus Clay, Lord Tensai, and Heath Slater. As the second entrant, Riley entered the 2012 Royal Rumble but unfortunately was eliminated first by The Miz. Riley claimed a rare victory on the May 2 episode of NXT when he teamed with Tyson Kidd to defeat JTG and Johnny Curtis. After several months of absence from television, he made his return on the July 3 episode of SmackDown in a World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank qualifying match against Dolph Ziggler, in a losing effort. Riley ended her singles losing streak on the August 6 episode of Raw by defeating Ziggler with a roll-up after a distraction from Chris Jericho in the commentary.
9. Other interesting things about Alex:
- Riley is a playable character in WWE ’12 and also appears in WWE SuperCard.
- The American wrestler once had a job selling medical equipment.
- Riley has a tattoo of a Celtic cross on his back as he is Catholic.
- As part of the 2011 Supplemental Draft on April 26, Kevin Robert Kiley Jr was moved to the SmackDown brand, separating him from The Miz.
- The pro wrestler debuted on the April 29 episode of SmackDown by interrupting Randy Orton, but was RKOed before he could even get a word out of his mouth!