– RAW Superstar Alex Riley spoke with WashingtonCityPaper.com to promote tomorrow’s WWE Capitol Punishment. Here are some highlights:
Washington City Paper: You grew up in Fairfax, Va., and get to make your pay-per-view debut in front of hometown pals. Geeked?
Alex Riley: I’m excited to come back to D.C. And turning into a face here, or at least moving in that direction, I think it’s a great place to start. If I can’t get [the fans] there, I can’t get them anywhere. … I think I might stay at my old house the night before the pay-per-view and get a nice home-cooked meal. … I’ll sleep in my old bed that I used to grow up in and just spend the day in Northern Virginia as much as I can.
WCP: Your character’s heel-to-babyface transformation was really well done, but were you surprised how quickly you were embraced by the fans?
AR: If anybody stands up to the Miz, they’re going to get a big reaction. … Was I surprised it was going to be so big? I honestly didn’t know what to think. There had been a lot of stuff brewing between me and Mike [the Miz]. When I came into the company, I didn’t want to go in and carry somebody else’s bags. I wanted to go in as my own guy. I felt like I was talented enough and charismatic enough, and had the tools to make an impact. But I was extremely happy with the position they gave me. Mike is a great character, he was on a fantastic run, and he’s a great guy to work with and learn from. But when that moment happened [where I turned on Miz], there was a lot of realism in that moment. A lot of the things he said, he truly felt; and a lot of the things I did I truly felt. When you can capture that, and it is such a real moment in front of 20,000 people, it’s hard to not get a reaction.
WCP: WWE was also smart having you turn ‘face while accompanied by John Cena and Stone Cold Steve Austin one week, followed up by Rowdy Roddy Piper the next. That’s some positive rub from, arguably, three of the top names in WWE history.
AR: Yeah, and I’m extremely fortunate to be put in that position. Even when they put me with Miz to start. I went from [the WWE TV program] NXT, which is pretty much a reality show where I didn’t even have a contract, trying to fight for every word that I got to say, every match, every move. I’m out there fighting for attention and trying to get noticed to a point where I’m in the ring with The Rock, Stone Cold, John Cena—because of Miz. But there comes a point where there’s a lot of pressure that goes with that: If they put you in the ring and you don’t stand out, or you don’t do well, or you get lost among 10 stars and have no presence, then you’re very exposed at an early point in your career, and you don’t want that to happen, either.
I think I did a pretty good job of handling my own in there, and then they gave me this opportunity. And, yeah, they keep putting me in the ring with guys who are legends, and I’ve been able to feed off their credibility and all that they’ve done and it’s worked out extremely well.