WWE fans of the 2010s may remember Alex Riley. The former protegee of The Miz seemed to be destined for the top one day then disappeared with a trace the next. He went from future star to NXT commentator to Netflix star in a matter of years, seemingly out of nowhere. However, In WWE Alex Riley found the wrath of John Cena, who killed his push and ran him out of the company.
Keeping reading to find out what happened with Alex Riley and John Cena.
He Was Held Back in WWE by John Cena
When he turned on The Miz, many fans expected Alex Riley to be the next big star in WWE. He was decent in the ring, could talk well on the microphone and had a great look and personality. He had the potential to be a future main eventer in the promotion and with a good build could work with the top stars in main event matches.
However, John Cena put a stop to that (reportedly). When Riley was on the up-and-up, Cena reportedly put an end to his push. As the 16 time WWE Champion, few wrestlers have as much pull as John Cena. If he didn’t want to work with a wrestler in the main event, they weren’t getting pushed.
From his debut to becoming a commentator, his WWE in ring career only lasted three years. Riley revealed that his lack of push was due to John Cena and the pairs mutual dislike of each other. Speaking with Sportskeeda’s Chris Featherstone, he revealed that the two men “not liking each other” had an “impact” on his career.
“I think it came down to, at the end, two men just not liking each other. As sad as that is, it had an impact on my career because he is who he is.”Alex Riley on how John Cena heat affected his career
It has been reported that Alex Riley got “heat” with John Cena after “standing up to” the Champ backstage at a WWE show. His career took a turn for the worse that day, although it has not been stated what the issue the pair collided over was. John Cena has not commented on the isse.
His NXT Career Started On Commentary And Ended In The Ring
After his in-ring singles career had come to an unflattering end, Alex Riley transitioned to being a commentator in WWE. His partnership with The Miz was long gone so he moved to being on commentary on WWE Superstars.
He became the programs colour commentator alongside a number of hosts. He also made appearances on WWE Main Event before he was moved to NXT for the July 11, 2013 tapings. He commentated alongside the likes of Tom Phillips, William Regal and Matt Bloom, among others.
His commentary career started slow and struggled to really pick up. Fans saw him as annoying and obnoxious on commentary. This could have been the character he was going for, but it just wasn’t a very good one. Fans had gotten sick of Michael Cole’s “heel” character the year prior and were not receptive to what Riley was going for.
He gained a new character upon the launch of the WWE Network in 2014. He became “The Analyst” Alex Riley and appeared regularly on Raw, Smackdown and Pay Per View pre-shows, bring a sports analyst-style to the shows.
He also stepped back into the ring in 2015 during his brief feud with NXT Champion Kevin Owens. Owens had been taunting Riley as he sat on commentary and coupled with a “#FreeRiley” campaign online to get him back into the ring, Alex Riley wrestled once again in NXT.
He came out of retirement in a victory over CJ Parker (NJPW’s Juice Robinson) in February 2015, but then suffered two consecutive defeats to Kevin Owens during the latter’s rivalry with Finn Balor. He would have a handful of other NXT matches in the next year, losing to NXT stars like Apollo Crews, Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura.
His NXT career did not go well. He lost almost every match he was part of and was soon ousted from his spot on commentary
Alex Riley Was Embarassed By A WWE Fan After Wrestlemania
The most embarrassing moment in his WWE career came on Raw after Wrestlemania 31.Shortly after the big show that year when Seth Rollins won the WWE Championship in the main event, Roman Reigns and Randy Orton stood in the ring cutting a promo.
At home, Alex Riley spotted a sign in the crowd. He was touched reading the fan-made sign which read “PUSH RAGE”. Rage was his nickname in WWE and was grateful that a fan would take it to the show to try and get him on TV more often.
He poste a screenshot of the sign to Twitter, commenting “This goes right along with any WM Moment I’ve had or ever will have @WWE So Thankful. So Grateful, So Humbled #Raw”
However, the originator of the message replied to Riley crushing his dreams and embarrassing him in front of all his followers. User “@MattMcMuscles” Tweeted “@AlexRileyWWE @WWE sorry man, that was my sign, and it had nothing to do with you. Just some dumb CAW my friends brother made“
A CAW is a “create a wrestler”, a made up character that players can create on the WWE 2K games. Riley did not reply to this tweet but certainly had egg on his face. He mistook the sign to be for him and finding out that it had nothing to do with him must have been crushing.
Alex Riley was released by WWE on May 6th, 2016 and has yet to reappear in WWE.
He Went On To Star In A Hit Netflix Series After Leaving WWE
After his in-ring WWE career was over and he was released, fans next saw Alex Riley pop up on a hit Netflix show. GLOW was a drama based upon the “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” promotion which ran in Las Vegas, Nevada from 1986 to 1992.
The show, which starred Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin and more, told the tale of the promotion and their attempt to gain respect in a world dominated by men.
Alex Riley starred in one episode of the show. In the first season he played a pro-wrestler called Steel Horse, who impresses the women and sleeps with one of the main characters. He only made a single appearance on the show and it was announced that Netflix had cancelled GLOWin 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Other wrestlers featured in the show included Carlito, Chavo Guerrero and Awesome Kong.