Wednesday, 12 October 2011

FEATURE: Alex Riley: Making Raw Rileylicious!

FEATURE: Alex Riley: 
Making Raw Rileylicious!

Kevin Robert Kiley Jr., born  April 28th 1981, first began his career in 2007 down at developmental territory FCW (Florida Championship Wrestling) as part of WWE’s training camp. Wrestling as Carson Oakley, teaming with Colt Cabana (Scotty Goldman) and battling Tyler Reks, DH Smith and Tyson Kidd, were just some of his beginnings to the pro wrestling call up. On March 18th 2010, Oakley defeated Wade Barrett & Justin Gabriel in a triple threat to become FCW Heavyweight Champion.

He impressed WWE with his background as a high school graduate, which may well have inspired his jock moniker on NXT.

Making the Mid Atlantic team as well as a successful win captaining his team (Robinson High Rams) to win the state championship for Virginia (1997). He expressed this glory on the NXT show in a promo. Receiving a scholarship from 2000 – 03, he began playing for Boston College, whilst also studying economics and communications. During this team he was switched from quarterback to lineback, thus failing to be part of the starting line up.

His calling would come. His father, Kevin Kiley Sr, had history working among the pro wrestling sector. Known as ‘The Slippery Wizard’ and “K-Squared” he also happens to have TV & Radio Communications, being a sportscaster (usually running live commentary during the events) as well as host for shows, featuring on ESPN, and Fox Sports Radio. They also are good friends with Greg Gange (of the Gange family), Kiley Sr, has known for over 40 years. An AWA International TV Champion, Gange is “kind of like Uncle Greg to me”as well as “a close member of the family” Alex Riley states.

Anyone entering NXT after the first season knew the limitations that came with the territory. Wrong moves could often affect your upstart, and this was no exception. In Riley’s case, however, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Started his NXT career with the strongest
mentor available in WWE
Stepping into VERY strong shoes, in a position where mentor, The Miz, whom was back for a second run in the role as guide to the newbies, with a happier prospect in tow, could only prove successful. Riley, showcased, and likely to win the show, due to his mic work, in ring ability, growing personality, style, and all round finesse, grew as a brighter opportunity from this learning show. Kaval, was selected as winner due to WWE opening internet voting to make believable that it was there for the net fans. Those “Internet darlings” chose their winner, after all. (Kaval no longer works for WWE, currently). Riley finished third.

Michael McGuillicutty and Riley both knew, on a level, that they would receive something, be it in placement, on the A or B show (Raw & Smackdown, respectively). Riley achieved the former. But he was alongside the hottest prospect on the show.

Came in 3rd. Had to get his Trivial Pursuit on.

Carrying the can, Clasping the Briefcase, The Miz, would eventually cash in his Money In The Bank contract. Many say Riley may have been carried by The Miz. Alex Riley proved this was not the case. Riley showed panache in his role alongside his former mentor. He transcended future star, while projecting a sideline position. (Not many have been able to be the ‘mascot’ and attract more attention than the one focused on).

Looked ever more the star than The Miz on the night.

Riley made it onto the biggest stage of PPV,
without being in a match directly.

On the 927th episode of Monday night Raw, (February 28th 2011) Alex Riley was booked to challenge WWE supremo, John Cena, in a steel cage match. Used as fodder in this feud between Cena/Miz, Riley’s outcome was obvious to all. (Should he have won, which would’ve been far more interesting to the feud overall, and changing its direction in eyes of fans to unpredictability), Riley lost to Cena. If Riley lost he would be thrown off the main Raw roster, thus ending his partnership with The Miz. 

Riley has a few other attributes to
compliment his position

Featured highly in matches with established performers.

Riley became The Miz’s Director of communications. The Miz made numerous attempts to protect his protégé in the cage match, but Cena, global phenomenon, as usual, overcame the odds. Cena buried another prospect early on. It would have propelled all involved and also created a new star for WWE much earlier, when needed. (Nexus became a dead flash in the pan). Nethertheless, Riley was in a Cage match early on in his career. WWE can capitalise on this. He has since gone on to appear in the MITB ladder match, and “I Quit” match to name a few accolades.

Had a chance in the annual MITB clashes!

Riley had the skills; he just needed to strike at the right time. Afterall, he was up against WWE’s highest ranking breakout star. That would always become an obstacle to overcome, from being said rookie to toppling his newly created adversary. Eventually Riley did just that. Their Raw scuffle on the May 23rd Raw was a red hot brawl. One which the WWE Universe lapped up and could really invest in. Their reaction was one WWE, and both men involved could only be pleased with. We hadn’t seen a pull apart brawl on this level for some time. Cheered in their droves from A – Ri, as a babyface, Alex Riley was instantly accepted.

Finally broke from The Miz, in the best 'brawl' the Universe
has seen for sometime,in the eyes of audience fans.

The first baby step Riley would make was to tackle his former friend at the Capitol Punishment Pay Per View. Heavily pushed on Raw, many felt the booking team would favour its chosen one, The Miz. Riley needed the win, and win he did. A successful victory for his debut on PPV, against the biggest man in WWE (BAR Orton and Cena, in terms of headline and mainstream status) was an immense step to headline star. Riley, before this was always on PPV, even though he never participated fully in matches, only at Over The Limit was his first full PPV outing against John Cena in an I Quit match on behalf of The Miz, whom also took part. (Cena won, of course).

WWE would then choose to drop the ball on Riley. Seen as an invalid move, WWE felt it was valid as Riley “wasn’t ready”. Since the new approach of re branding the company and fully feeding the audience Cena only programming, you cannot expect someone to become as “ready” as the attitude era used to be. This is WWE’s fault, but it can change it correctly should it wish to. Alex Riley is the only option they have to go forward with, but holding him back from his solo push where he was gathering steam, has crippled his chances once again. 

How can one expect a star to be invested in by the audience, when the company remove them from TV or spots so suddenly?

Riley since entered a mini program with US Champion Dolph Ziggler, and most recently participated in a 4 man main event with John Cena, John Morrison and Sheamus. WWE are still desperately trying to push Morrision – they have no one else in their minds. Though Morrison does not and never will exude headline status due to his gimmick of flying spots and lack of charisma to get himself over (as well as his bone idle attitude).

Picturesq. Adonis, move along.

Alex Riley is one of the last few WWE have to push forward to gather a fan base behind, support and wrestle to a fair extent. He has also been in ‘entertainment’ spots during his tenure with The Miz. He is more than capable; it’s up to WWE to fully get behind this prospect, as, apart from Alberto Del Rio, he is all the company have right now, once Cena, Orton and Punk become irrelevant. Apart from Punk, many are fed up with the former two always in the spotlight as the figureheads. Orton, to his credit, sells for stars. But he can’t make them alone. Booking practises need to allow Riley to fly. Having been in main event matches and feuds with Randy Orton & John Cena whilst with The Miz proves he can be accepted as a headline star. He played the parts well – and there are no small parts – even on the sidelines.

Capable of leading
Riley is a team player with leadership qualities and can posses a persona that gathers interest on either side. In ring and entertainment skills, embodied with his physique, is yet another positive WWE should surely take note of. At 30 years of age, Riley has matured in the ring and out.

Riley wants YOU!
Pushed into the spot, Riley can handle it, and WWE need to do it. It has no one else to rise above once key players get boring or fail to gain such an emotive response. Everyone has different favourites, some like Del Rio – others don’t. Same applies for others mentioned. The key is having a small but effective selection. Alex Riley can be added to that shortlist. A feud with Del Rio wouldn’t be a bad idea neither. Turning Kofi Kingston heel for a bout wouldn’t be unwelcomed, should both be pushed attentively. A possible Royal Rumble victory would also benefit. Going into 2012, A –Ri’s career could be looking Rileylicious!


 © Max Waltham 12th October 2011

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