Current WWE NXT superstar Alex Riley is getting some negative attention on Twitter over a tweet in which he allegedly questions WWE-newcomer AJ Styles’ debut on the company’s main roster.
While Riley — who’s been under contract with WWE since 2007 — never mentions Styles by name, he simply asks a question the day after the “Phenomenal 1” debuted at the Royal Rumble and was announced to wrestle Chris Jericho on RAW.
U honestly have to be kidding me?’?!
— Alex Riley (@AlexRileyWWE) January 26, 2016
The context in which Riley sent out that tweet is not clear, but that didn’t stop performers in the industry from interpreting his message as a slight against Styles.
For instance, one of Styles’ former Bullet Club brethren and one-half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks, Matt Jackson, sent Riley this GIF in response.
— The Young Bucks (@MattJackson13) January 26, 2016
However, one response in particular to Riley’s tweet sent Twitter into a tailspin.
Twitter user @SenorLARIATO sent Riley two screenshots from the Championships and Accomplishments portion of both his and Styles’ Wikipedia profiles. It takes one quick glance to see that despite being under contract to WWE for nearly a decade, Riley’s career pales in comparison to Styles’ over decade-and-a-half long career.
— LARIATOOOOO!!! (@SenorLARIATO) January 26, 2016
Riley, 34, just recently returned to in-ring action at the January 7 NXT tapings, per Wrestling Inc. He wrestled NXT mainstay Bull Dempsey in a match that is scheduled to air on tomorrow night’s edition of NXT on the WWE Network. As Wrestling Inc mentions, that bout against Dempsey was Riley’s first match since April 23rd, 2015, against Sami Zayn.
On May 1, 2015, WWE announced that Riley will undergo surgery to a fix the degenerative arthrosis in his knee. Before that injury, Riley had just returned to in-ring competition after spending most of the previous two years as a color commentator for WWE. Riley wrestled the since departed CJ Parker and then-NXT Champion Kevin Owens in NXT after returning.
Riley has a history of going on bizarre Twitter rants, which is likely why this current tweet has gotten negative attention. On July 16, 2015, as part of a series of disparaging tweets, Riley posted this message which many interpreted as a shot against current NXT Champion Finn Balor.
U were big in Japan? Good for u I was watching attitude era and punchin people in the mouth the whole time @WWENXT by the way ur name again?
— Alex Riley (@AlexRileyWWE) July 16, 2015
Also, Riley referred to fans as “marks,” saying that their opinions don’t matter because they aren’t the ones who perform in the ring. Fansided’s DailyDDT has an article dedicated to Riley’s entire rant.
This instance is also not the first time Riley has taken a shot on Twitter against somebody named AJ. Shortly after AJ Lee’s WWE departure, Riley took to Twitter and mocked the tattoo she got after winning her first Divas Championship, as Inquisitr reported.
In a much-anticipated debut, former TNA Original, and New Japan Pro Wrestling star AJ Styles entered the Royal Rumble as the No.3 entrant this past Sunday. Separate reports have indicated that Styles will make in excess of $500,000 with WWE, retains the rights to his both his name and the name of his finishing move (Styles Clash), and several other perks.
It’s arguable that Styles’ outside accomplishments have earned him those perks. However, there are probably people within WWE — possibly Riley included — who view Styles’ high-profile entry into the company with some clenched teeth and silent rage.
[Featured Image via WWE]