After retiring from in-ring competition in 2016 to focus on a career in acting, former WWE superstar Alex Riley — real name Kevin Kiley Jr. — is preparing for his big return to the squared circle. And as he suggested in a reply to a social media user’s comment, he just might consider a stint with All Elite Wrestling if the opportunity presents itself.
Riley confirmed his comeback via Instagram on Wednesday, as he posted a promotional image from Generation Championship Wrestling (GCW) and its upcoming event, We Run This Town. As shown in the photo, the show will be taking place at the Italian Club of Tampa on March 31 and April 1 — mere days before WrestleMania 36 kicks off in the very same city. According to Wrestling Inc., the returning grappler will be using the ring name “Kevin Riley — Steel Horse,” combining his real first name, the surname he used on WWE programming, and the name of his character on the first season of the Netflix series GLOW.
Although details regarding Riley’s comeback first became available on Wednesday, the 38-year-old grappler had dropped a few other hints on social media regarding his future plans. As noted by Wrestling Inc., Riley took to Instagram last week to post a photo of himself from his NXT days. The image did not come with any caption but nonetheless drew the attention of one follower who suggested that he should return to pro wrestling for “one more run” — this time with AEW, and not with WWE or NXT.
“I agree thank you,” Riley was quoted as saying in his reply.
As reigning AEW World Champion Chris Jericho hinted in an April interview with Sportskeeda that the company won’t go out of its way to sign ex-WWE talent, it’s still far from clear whether the upstart promotion will show any interest in Riley. He has, however, been very critical about certain people he worked with during his WWE run, including John Cena. In 2017, Riley accused the wrestler-turned-Hollywood-star of derailing his career through an unspecified backstage incident.
As further noted by Wrestling Inc., Riley spent close to a decade working for WWE, starting out with the company’s then-developmental promotion Florida Championship Wrestling. He then made his main roster debut in 2010, getting substantial exposure through his partnership with The Miz but moving to a lower-card role after the duo went their separate ways one year later. His last match before getting released by the company — a loss to Shinsuke Nakamura — was aired on the May 11, 2016, edition of NXT.