As previously reported, Alex Riley will be making his return to pro wrestling for the first time since 2016. This is the first time he is back in the ring since being released from his WWE contract that year. He will be wrestling at GCW’s “We Run This Town” event at Tampa, FL during Wrestlemania weekend on March 31 and April 1.
When he first joined WWE’s main roster, Riley was paired with The Miz in NXT. Speaking to Chris Van Vliet, Riley discussed how their paths were intertwined even before he joined the wrestling world.
“I don’t look like him (The Miz) at all. This happened to me in college: I was walking around campus and somebody started chasing me down and said ‘there’s The Miz.’ This was the height of the reality show,” Riley stated. “At nineteen years old, I was like who is The Miz? I said I’m not him. At first, he didn’t believe me, and he brought his girlfriend over and she said that as well. I had to figure out who he was so I turned on the TV. Lo and behold, I made a career out of being with him. I guess WWE knows what they are doing if I’m 19 and they are pairing me with The Miz ten years later.”
When it came to his story on how he would be paired with The Miz, it was all about timing.
“John Laurinaitis called me,” Riley continued. “I was in Tampa and he said at FCW that they are starting a show called NXT season one. NXT season two was coming around and I would be on it. Months went by and they started writing it, I get a call from John and he goes, ‘get ready, you’re with The Miz.’ I was excited because he was so successful, good on the mic, I couldn’t have been more fortunate.”
During his time with The Miz, Riley grew as a character. The duo became very successful as heels. When Miz beat Randy Orton for the WWE Title on an episode of Raw, Riley could not be happier. They also celebrated the win in the most unorthodox of ways.
“I was ecstatic,” Riley went on to say. “I got a decent verticle; I was on the side so you can literally see my flying up and down. I was pumped. WWE creating magic. There’s so much that goes to that title. When Mike won that night it was incredible. I didn’t really know much at that point, I was one of the last guys to know. It was Mike’s job to tell me things. I was told he was cashing in about 2-3 minutes before, I didn’t know all day. They kept us separate in the beginning, and Michael Hayes came up to me and said Miz is winning the title, get out there! You want the emotion, and I had it… That’s how we celebrate everything in WWE, by going to Denny’s or IHop. At that point you are lucky to be there, you are tired and you just want some pancakes.”
Since he was with The Miz for that moment, was that Riley’s moment to have as well? A lot of fans surprisingly say yes, but Riley understood his role and kept it grounded.
“I’ve always said no,” Riley stated. “People always say you were in the main event of WrestleMania. I’m grateful for that, but I was on the side. I’m not going to sit here and say I was The Rock and John Cena or Miz and John Cena. I didn’t earn that spot. Was that my moment? No. Absolutely not, that was Miz’s moment and anyone that says that was my moment are trying to trick me.”
Like all good things, his partnership with The Miz came to an end when he was fired by the man on Raw. Riley, who was getting support from the crowd at that point, attacked Miz to a big reaction. His feud with The Miz was something he will always be proud of.
“I was ecstatic that happened, it was a great moment in my life,” Riley went on to say. I’ll always remember it. It got me going into a little bit of a career, it separated me from Mike and gave me an opportunity to go out on my own and do my thing. To go out there as a big fiery babyface with great music, it was a great experience. Mike is the best. He’s going to lose to his old rookie but he was a pro, he was a professional the whole time and it all worked out really well. If you want to last in WWE, you do what’s best. Look at him now, he’s all over the place. He swears he doesn’t look like me either, I think we both hate it. He had the title and I was taller.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chris Van Vliet with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.