During his time in WWE, CM Punk was one of the company’s most popular superstars, and present-day WWE still has John Cena as one of its biggest names. But as their former colleague Alex Riley sees it, Punk wasn’t justified in leaving WWE the way he did, and Cena, as has been suggested in previous “shoot” interviews, might have derailed what was, at the time, a solid mid-card push.
Alex Riley was one of the many wrestlers included in WWE’s “spring cleaning” list for 2016; a list of wrestlers who were released or weren’t re-signed by the company in the spring of that year. Together with the likes of Damien Sandow, Wade Barrett, Santino Marella, and others, Riley was wished the best in his future endeavors in May 2016, even though his career had a far more promising trajectory. At the time, he finished third in the second season of the NXT rookie search in 2010.
As a main roster talent, Riley was aligned with The Miz, serving as his on-air personal assistant and helping Miz out in his WWE Championship feud against John Cena in 2011. But when that angle reached its expiration date, and Riley turned face on Miz later that year, things weren’t quite the same as Alex was dropped down to the lower rungs of the card and made to lose far more than he won, — “jobbed out,” as they say in wrestling lingo — and he was plagued with injury problems.
With almost eight months having passed since Alex Riley was released by WWE, the 35-year-old wrestler appeared on the latest edition of Jim Ross’ The Ross Report podcast, sitting down with the WWE Hall of Fame announcer to discuss various topics. One of those topics was the departure of CM Punk in early-2014, a move that was filled with controversy and acrimony from both sides, especially after Punk’s November 2014 appearance on Colt Cabana’s The Art of Wrestling podcast.
In quotes from the podcast published by WrestleZone, Riley admitted that he doesn’t understand why Punk left WWE while in the midst of what was still a very good push. He stressed that he “can’t sympathize” with CM Punk and his decision to walk out of WWE due to the health and backstage issues he was experiencing at the time.
“I know there was something about a medical thing or something, but that’s the gig, that is what you signed up for. I don’t know what he ended up making because that wasn’t disclosed, but he ended up making a lot. If somebody is going to pay me over a million, or it doesn’t matter, but I think if you’re making that kind of money, if you are breathing you are working.”
Riley also addressed his rumored beef with John Cena and admitted that the two of them did have “heat,” although he chose not to go into the details of what happened between him and Cena that allegedly led to the derailment of his push.
“I will put it this way; there was an incident, and it definitely changed the path in my career. I don’t want to discuss it right now, but I will one day for sure. It was a tough situation at times, we can leave it at that.”
It bears mentioning that Riley hasn’t specifically talked about the details of his supposed real-life feud with Cena. But in a Reddit Ask Me Anything quoted by Wrestling Inc in late-2015, former WWE wrestler Tyler Reks shared some details about the apparent mutual dislike between both men.
“There is truth that there was some sort of unknown, unreasonable heat between Riley and Cena. To the point where everyone on the roster thought that Cena was treating him in a way that was totally uncalled for.”
Reks also claimed that Cena was actively “looking for a reason” to get Alex Riley fired from WWE, and would rifle through Alex’s gym bag and criticize him for the supplements he was taking at the time.
[Featured Image by WWE]