On episode 151 of The Ross Report, legendary professional wrestling broadcaster Jim Ross talked to Kevin Kiley, Jr., formerly known as WWE's Alex Riley. During the interview, Riley talked about how he got his start in WWE, working as a commentator for NXT, and his incident with John Cena.
According to Riley, he got hooked up with WWE because his dad was roommates with Greg Gagne, who had Johnny Laurinaitis's contact information.
"My father knows Greg Gagne. [He was] high school, I'm sorry, college roommates with Greg Gagne at Wyoming and he contacted Greg. Greg had John Laurinaitis's name and phone number. And I believe I sent the email and then, when I didn't hear back for awhile, Greg kind of took over and said, 'hey, why don't you give this kid a look?' and so on and so forth."
Apparently, Riley turned down a job that would have paid him approximately $200,000 annually in the medical device industry. Riley claimed that he was offered a developmental deal of only $500 per week by WWE. He said he countered by asking for $40,000 per year and WWE ultimately gave him $750 or $1,000 per week.
"[WWE] offered me a deal that was… it wasn't much. It was very, very low and it was almost not enough to survive on, really. I mean, it would be, it would have been hard to eat. It was $500 a week, which, I guess, what is that? Yeah, and at that point when they, when Wright Medical offered me the new job, you're talking about close to $200k [annually]."
Riley added, "I desperately wanted to be part of WWE, so I said, 'look, if you can get this thing right around $40 grand [annually], I will go. I'm not going to tell you what I'm getting offered by Wright Medical, but it's a lot more and I'll give it all up if you can get this thing to right around [$40,000 annually].' And they did. They got me up to a grand [per week] or $750, I don't remember what it was, and I packed up and I headed out and I don't regret it. It was awesome."
On the subject of commentating for NXT, Riley says he enjoyed it, but the job is much harder than people think.
"I enjoyed it. I very much enjoyed it. I wanted to, the thing with me, I belonged in the ring. I should have been in the ring. Anybody that disagrees with that, I don't know. I think that's very foolish. But, for whatever reason, I wasn't [in the ring] and I had skill. I had passion for the business, a lot of passion for the business, and they gave me the opportunity to be a broadcaster and I took it head on. That's a hard job and I don't think people [appreciate that]. You know, JR, people see it on TV and they say, 'you're just sitting there talking,' but it's not that. I mean, that show moves fast. It's live. You're in the booth, sometimes, sitting with two other people who have their own train of thought. If you haven't worked with them ever, you have no idea where they might go with it and you have to get it all back to a certain subject that everybody's either agreeing on or there's a plan, a point you're trying to make. And then, all of a sudden, Vince McMahon will yell in your ear, 'hey, we're going to go this way,' so it was a challenge at first, but certainly something that I really enjoyed. There was nothing worse for me than just sitting in the back."
As for Cena, Riley admitted that he had an incident with 'The Face That Runs The Place' that changed his career path in professional wrestling. 'A-Ry' said he will get into it in detail one day.
"I'll put it this way. There was an incident and it certainly changed the path of my career. I don't want to discuss it right now, but I will one day for sure. I will one day. It was a tough situation at times, I guess we can leave it at that." Riley continued, "and, honestly, JR, I struggle with the morality of even talking about it and I'm not into blowing up anybody else at this point, but I promise you this, I will address it one day for sure. You don't want to know. It was a tough situation."
Listen to the interview here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit The Ross Report with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: The Ross Report