Alex Riley was born Kevin Robert Kiley Jr. in Fairfax Station, Virginia on April 28, 1981. His father was Kevin Kiley Sr., a sports reporter and commentator; a foreshadowing of things to come for Kiley. In ring he is hailed from Washington DC and has performed under some other aliases during his career.
At Boston College, Riley was active in college football and successfully completed a degree in economics and communications. Pro wrestling was his true passion however, and he put forth all of his efforts towards achieving this goal.
Riley debuted under his real name of Kevin Kiley in the WWE developmental territory of Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) in 2007. Although his debut effort was a loss to Shawn Osbourne, Kiley was able to survive through until 2008 when he changed his ring name to Cason Oakley.
He formed a tag team partnership with Scotty Goldman but the two never were able to capture the Florida Tag Team Championship belts. Undeterred, he re-invented himself with a new name and persona: Alex Riley.
Riley was a college jock and was accompanied by his “prom queen” Beverly Mullins. The FCW General Manager Abraham Washington saw promise in Riley and dubbed him the “top draft pick” and considered him the number one contender for the Florida Heavyweight Championship. Despite the push, not much changed for Riley as he spent most of his time in dark matches. He eventually dropped Mullins as his valet and focused his efforts on the FCW title.
Riley was successful in acquiring the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship by besting Justin Gabriel and Wade Barrett in a triple threat match. He successfully retained the title for 4 months and then dropped it to Mason Ryan in another triple threat match.
FCW soon became the hot show NXT, and Riley competed under the mentorship of the Miz. He had mixed success on NXT and was eventually eliminated in the season finale, ranked 3rd place overall.
On an episode of Raw in September of 2010, Riley interfered in a match which pitted Daniel Bryan against the Miz as the Miz was trapped in the Bryan’s LeBell Lock submission hold. He was successful at breaking the hold on the Miz, but unfortunately wound up in the hold himself in the process.
Things did not fare well for Riley’s career thereafter. The Miz had “hired” Riley to accompany him to his matches as his sidekick that would interfere in matches and assure the Miz’s victory. Occasionally Riley would replace the Miz in matches, but never won against the likes of John Cena and Ezekiel Jackson.
Riley continued to interfere on Miz’s behalf but was regularly being humiliated by Miz’s opponents that would put him through tables as if they were crushing an insect that was bothering them.
John Cena challenged Riley to a steel cage match with the stipulation being that if Cena won, Riley’s relationship as the Miz’s lackey would be terminated. Needless to say, Riley lost but continued to interfere in Miz’s matches and generally annoy everyone around him.
When the Miz lost the WWE Championship to John Cena at the “Extreme Rules” Pay Per View event, the Miz berated Riley for not being present at ringside to help him out once again. The Miz then lost another attempt to win the belt and was eventually denied another title shot. Enraged, the Miz blamed everything on Riley who could not take anymore abuse and attacked the Miz, becoming a face for the first time on WWE television.
On the next Raw episode, Riley teamed with old rival Cena to fight the Miz and R-Truth. While the two lost the bout, Riley was successful at defeating the Miz at the “Capital Punishment” Pay Per View.
Things weren’t always so good for Riley however as he lost to the Miz in their encounters thereafter both in singles and tag team competition. When things with the Miz died down, Riley started to feud with US Champion Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger.
Riley did win some of the many encounters between Ziggler and Swagger, but was never successful at gaining the US Championship belt. He was sidelined due to an injury for several weeks, and on his return, he did have some wins against Drew McIntyre and JTG.
2012 was not a good year for Riley as he lost bout after bout and was reneged to “jobber” status. He lost at the 2012 Royal Rumble and also lost a Money In the Bank qualifier match. He did have a rare victory over Ziggler on Raw and this would be his last active competition for a long time thereafter.
He lost in a tag team tournament on NXT, and lost a battle royal to determine the number 1 contender for the vacant Intercontinental title. Sensing that his career as a competitor was effectively over, Riley became a color commentator on shows like Superstars, NXT. Main Event and on several Pay Per View broadcasts.
In 2015, Riley returned to in-ring competition after being harassed by Kevin Owens. On NXT, he defeated CJ Parker, but lost in a battle royal at WrestleMania XXXI. Owens attacked him later on and he left ring action for a while to undergone arthroscopic knee surgery.
He returned in January 2016 as a heel with a darker look of longer hair and beard. History repeated itself with a series of losses and he was officially released from the WWE in May, 2016.
Riley’s story is unfortunately one of many in the competitive pro wrestling business. Without the right push and storylines, truly talented athletes like Riley find themselves locked into the role of “enhancement talent” for the benefit of others and never truly get to achieve their own full potential.
Special thanks to Dr. Stephen Balsky for contributing the above wrestler profile.
Dr. Stephen Balsky is a chiropractor currently in practice in his native Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been a wrestling fan since age 13 and is very passionate about the product, especially the “old-school” 80’s – 90’s era. He completed his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 2015 and currently is also working part-time as a professor in both business and healthcare.