Riley and Eve Torres at the Wrestlemania Premiere Party
|Ring name(s)||Michael Riley|
|Billed height||6'1" (1.85 m)|
|Billed weight||236lbs (108 kg)|
|Born|| October 1, 1986 (age 26)|
Liberty City, Miami, Florida
|Billed from||Miami, Florida|
|Trained by||New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Debut||April 15, 2005|
Daniel Michael Riley is an American professional wrestler signed to WWE, wrestling in its developmental territory NXT Wrestling under the name Michael Riley, where he is the reigning NXT Champion. He is also a former FCW Florida Heavyweight Champion.
After failing to earn himself a contract with ROH, Riley moved to Japan and trained more with the legendary, Antonio Inoki. Riley spent three months training with Inoki before he signed a contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) in December 2005.
Riley was known as a dare devil and was referred to as "Osore shirazu" which translates to fearless in Japanese. In August 2009 Riley won the annual G1 Climax Tournament held in Japan.
Riley was born on October 1, 1986, in Miami, Florida. Son to Caroline and David Riley, he has one older sibling—Thomas. Riley attended Miami Jackson Senior High School; after graduating from Miami Jackson in 2003 Riley attended Florida International University with a degree in Biology. While in college—Riley continued to pursue his dream of being a professional wrestler and after he failed to get himself a contract with Ring of Honor (ROH) — Riley dropped out of college and moved to Japan.
Riley lived on the streets for a bit before being taken in by legendary wrestling promoter—Antonio Inoki. There Inoki would begin training Riley and was like a father figure to him and managed to help him adapt to the Japanese culture.
Professional wrestling career
Training and early career (2005)
While Riley was in College he was contacted by Rob Feinstein and was asked if he wanted to possibly try out for his wrestling promotion Ring of Honor. Riley agreed and was placed in various tryout matches and began training with CM Punk and AJ Styles to see if he deserved a spot on the roster. After competing in tryout matches for seven months Riley wasn't able to impress management enough despite Styles' attempts and persuasion to sign him to a contract.
New Japan Pro Wrestling / NJPW (2005-2011)
Riley was signed to a contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling in December 2005 and continued his training with NJPW founder, Antonio Inoki. After training for three months, Riley made his debut as a face in NJPW under the ring name—Riley Daniels on April 15, 2005. Riley would compete in matches against the likes of Yujiro Takahashi, Kota Ibushi, Yuji Nagata. That is when Riley earned the nickname, Osore shirazu meaning fearless as he would put on a show for the fans. Riley was involved in the Young Lion Cup however he came in third place next to Hiroyuki Ito and winner Hirooki Goto.
Riley following this started a rivalry with Black Tiger IV and would face him for his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship at a live event however was unsuccessful. The two would continue the rivalry for the next two months before it was ended and Riley started a rivalry with Koji Kanemoto which lasted for eight months. Following his long and heated rivalry with Kanemoto, at a very special televised show Riley would go on to defeat at the time current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Riley formed an alliance with Yujiro Takahashi and soon the two began racking up tag team victories so they were placed in a match with the at the time reigning Tag Team Champions, Manabu Nakanishi and Takao Omori and were able to score a non-title win over them. A few weeks later the two teams faced off again this time in a brutal ladder match with Riley able to climb the ladder and grab the titles capturing his first championship since joining NJPW.
Riley and Takahashi would go on to hold the titles for five months before losing them to Giant Bernard and Travis Tomko. After losing the titles a feud ignited between the two former teammates and lasted for months with Riley coming out on top. Riley would former another alliance with Tetsuya Naitō and the two would challenge Giant Bernard and Travis Tomko for the Tag Team Championships on a few occasions however they were unsuccessful.
After this Riley started a rivalry with Ryusuke Taguchi and the rest of the members of the stable, Apollo 555 which would last for the rest of the year and ended with Ryusuke Taguchi being victorious over Riley.
Riley continued his run as a singles competitor and announced his involvement in the G1 Climax tournament. Riley would go on to win all nine of his matches and would win the Tournament defeating Togi Makabe in the finals. After winning the tournament, Riley began a feud with Shinsuke Nakamura over the vacant IWGP Heavyweight Championship. In what is being billed as one of Riley's best matches to date he was able to defeat Shinsuke Nakamura and capture his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Riley would hold onto the championship for well over two months before losing the title to Togi Makabe. Riley would change his ring name to Michael Riley shortly after this would make the transition into a narcissistic and self-centered villain. Riley would defeat Makabe to regain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and would hold onto it for five months before he was defeated by Satoshi Kojima. Following this Riley would take a hiatus from the ring.
Riley returned six months later and would save current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Hiroshi Tanahashi from an attack by Apollo 555 thus turning him back into a fan favourite. The two would align and be involved in a series of matches with Apollo 555's Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi. The two would defeat them in a match with Tanahashi's IWGP Heavyweight title on the line as well as the Tag Team titles starting Riley's second reign as Tag Team Champion. Tanahashi and Riley would hold onto the titles for a few months before losing them back at Apollo 555. Over the course of the next month or so it was made known that Riley was planning on leaving Japan after his contract with NJPW expired as he had been offered a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment.
After beating Hiroshi Tanahashi in a non-title match, Riley earned himself a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Riley's final scheduled match in NJPW took place on May 28, 2011 against Tanahashi in a two out of three falls match, for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship which he won; winning the title for the third time.
Following the match, Riley was visibly crying and was showered with streamers when he posed in the middle of the ring with Tanahashi as members of the roster came out to congratulate Riley along with Riley's mentor, Antonio Inoki. The next day, New Japan Pro Wrestling announced that the title had been vacated and a tournament was being set up to crown a new champion.
World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE
Florida Championship Wrestling (2011–2012)
Riley officially signed with the WWE in June 2011, Riley was sent down to their developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling the following month where he debuted as a fan favorite. Riley's first televised match in the United States was against Gabriel Walker on July 17, 2011 in a loss. Eager to impress the American fans who didn't get to see much of what he was capable of in his loss he was able to achieve his first victory over Jason Saracen albeit via Disqualification. On the August 7th, 2011 edition of FCW, Riley was able to get a victory over Chaser. On the August 14th, 2011 edition of FCW Riley suffered a loss to reigning FCW Champion, Cole Brennan in a non-title contest. On the August 21st, 2011 edition of FCW, Riley picked up a win over Miguel Calleja.
Riley was given a push and started a scripted rivalry with Ciaran O'Donnell who had recently turned into a villainous character, it all started when the two exchanged words backstage regarding O'Donnell's attitude change. On the September 11th, 2011 edition of FCW, Riley confronted O'Donnell backstage once more which led to yet another war of words between the two. Riley would go on to be victorious in his match against Daniel Carter, however following the match he would be attacked by a hooded figure who revealed himself to be Ciaran O'Donnell, thus sending a message to Riley.
Later in the night during the main event, O'Donnell would defeat Anton Taylor and Joel Lawrence to become the FCW Florida Heavyweight Champion. On the September 25th, 2011 edition of FCW, Riley tried to get a measure of revenge on O'Donnell however the champion would scurry out of the ring before Riley could get his hands on him. On the October 9th, 2011 edition of FCW Riley was able to defeat Anton Taylor, Joel Lawrence and Flynn Drake to become the number one contender for O'Donnell's FCW Heavyweight Championship. On the October 16th, 2011 edition of FCW Riley was able to continue his winning streak with a pinfall victory over Nathan Blake. Riley's winning streak came to an end on the October 23rd, 2011 edition of FCW however not without controversy as he was ready to get the win over Trista Anderson what appeared to be a fan, hopped over the barricade and distracted him allowing Anderson to roll him up for the win.
Following the match the fan hopped the barricade again and this time entered the ring only to hit Riley with the Sick Kick which is Ciaran O'Donnell's signature maneuver, so many people assumed that it was Ciaran who had attacked Riley. Later in the night Riley attempted to get even with O'Donnell however it didn't exactly work as Ciaran was able to pick up a win over Alexandra the Great. FCW ended with Ciaran walking back up the entrance ramp as Riley stood in the ring obviously wanting a fight. On the October 30th, 2011 edition of FCW the show opened with Ciaran O'Donnell trying to clear his name and stated that he had nothing to do with Riley being attacked the week prior which brought out Riley who rushed to the ring only for O'Donnell to bail out once again. Riley was then attacked again by the same fan thus clearing O'Donnell's name however it is still aware that O'Donnell has something to do with this mysterious fan attacking Riley.
On the November 6th edition of FCW, Riley interrupted O'Donnell for the second week in a row and was finally able to get his hands on O'Donnell attacking him as he had him lined up and ready for the Hell's Revolt when the "fan" interfered and manage to get Ciaran out of harm's way. Riley however would pursuit O'Donnell all the way backstage. Later in the night when O'Donnell was talking with Vickie Guerrero regarding what had happened earlier he was attacked once again by Riley who pummeled the FCW Champion in front of Vickie Guerrero, only for Ciaran to once again get away.
In the main event Riley teamed up with Alexandra the Great to take on O'Donnell and Seraphina Valentine. Throughout the course of the match, Alexandra turned on Riley revealing herself to be the mysterious fan as Ciaran would pick up the win thanks to Alexandra. Following the match the two would attack Riley and leave him laying in the middle of the ring as Ciaran held the title up high above his head to close the show for the second week in a row. On the November 13th, 2011 edition of FCW, Riley finally got his opportunity at the FCW title and after a hard fought battle, Riley came up just short and suffered a loss to his longtime rival, Ciaran O'Donnell ending the feud as O'Donnell would be forced to vacate the title as he would be moved up to SmackDown.
On the November 27th, 2011 edition of FCW, Miles Barrington along with Maverick Wade started a two on one assault on WWE Superstar, Tyler Chandler who had made an appearance on FCW to confront Wade however Riley would run down for the save as both Barrington and Riley went at it thus starting a rivalry between the two. Riley would be placed into a feud with Alexandra the Great who became the new FCW Heavyweight Champion on the November 27th, 2011 edition of FCW. On the December 11th, 2011 edition and last FCW of 2011 despite interference from Miles Barrington Riley defeated Alexandra the Great in a tables match to become the FCW Heavyweight Champion for the first time in his career. Following this the planned feud between Alexandra and Riley was thrown out as Riley continued his rivalry with Barrington.
On the January 22nd, 2012 edition and first FCW of 2012, Riley opened the show talking about him becoming the new FCW Heavyweight Champion only to be interrupted by Miles Barrington who congratulated the new champion before making it known that he wanted to be the first to challenge Riley for the title. This brought out Vickie Guerrero who proceeded to deny Barrington a chance to compete for the title before firing him. Thus ending the rivalry between Barrington and Riley. Michael then started making fun of Vickie saying that every time she comes on the air the show loses ratings and that she is boring. In the main event of the night Cassie Powers was victorious in a Fatal Five Way match that included the champion. On the January 29th, 2012 episode of FCW, Riley was able to gain a victory over Drake Darkness. Later in the night it would be revealed that Riley would defend the title in a Championship Scramble match at the Royal Rumble PPV.
At the 2012 Royal Rumble in a rare FCW appearance Riley lost the FCW Heavyweight Championship in a Championship Scramble match to Rylan Jett. On the February 19, 2012 episode of FCW, Riley made it known that he was cashing in on his rematch clause the following week against Rylan Jett, wanting a No Disqualifications match. Later in the night he suffered a loss to Trenton York. On the February 26th, 2012 episode of FCW, Riley was unsuccessful in his attempts to regain the FCW Championship. After his loss, Riley sent out a very cryptic tweet as it merely read 'Done', Riley also said the same cryptic message on his Facebook page.
Brand switches and departure (2012)
On February 27, 2012 WWE announced that they were severing ties with Florida Championship Wrestling once again and that all members of the current roster were being move up to either RAW or Smackdown much like what had happened back in 2009. With this despite Riley's cryptic tweet and unknown status, he was moved up to Monday Night RAW. Riley made his official debut as a RAW Superstar at the Cyber Sunday PPV on March 4, 2012. Riley ranted about how he has been treated due to his then relationship with actress, Kate Beckinsale and that he was done taking all the crap from his fellow superstars. Riley even singled out Women's Champion, Mar as one of the main contributors to the heat he was receiving. Throughout the promo there were signs shown of a heel turn from Riley as he said things very out of character.
On Twitter, Riley continued to show signs of a heel turn stating: 'And now I'm getting heat for it from my "fans", funny thing is I didn't need you guys in the first place. Only am I in control of my career, not you.' On the March 12th, 2012 episode of Monday Night RAW Riley had a gimmick change which is somewhat based on his personal life, with him being an avid partier and christened himself as the 'Party Starter', Riley once again singled out Mar and also made it clear that his relationship with Kate Beckinsale had tarnished his once great career and that it was time for him to put an end to that, thus the reasons behind the ending of his relationship with her, following this he got major heat from the crowd, thus completing his heel turn and turning heel for the first time in the WWE.
Riley would make his official in-ring debut as a member of the RAW roster in a dark match losing to Wade Barrett. Riley would also join the Nexus along with Wade Barrett and Heath Slater. Riley would also announce his intentions to tag team with Slater and would set their sights on the WWE Tag Team Championships and current champions, The Motor City Machine Guns. On the March 19, 2012 episode of RAW, Riley suffered yet another loss to Shawn Spears. Shortly after Riley joined the Nexus, he was able to recruit fan favourite Travis Kooper who would turn into a villainous character. After this the Nexus began to crumble as Heath Slater would be released from his contract along with Daniel Bryan.
Wade Barrett would be taken out backstage by an unknown assailant and both Riley and Kooper stated they were going to get to the bottom of it. On the March 26, 2012 episode of RAW, Riley failed to qualify for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match losing to Edge. Following this Riley was placed into a rivalry with AJ Styles stemming from when they were both in Ring of Honor where Styles helped train Riley and was a mentor for him. The rivalry got personal when Riley paid a visit to Styles' ex-wife and his three children. Shortly after this Riley would drop the 'Michael' part of his name and began going under his real name after Styles continued to refer to him as 'Daniel'.
On the April 9, 2012 episode of RAW after losing a tag team match to the Motor City Machine Guns Travis Kooper turned on Riley revealing that he had been the one to attack Wade Barrett and that his intentions were to destroy the Nexus from the inside out thus turning back into a fan favourite. Riley would sit Wrestlemania 28 out despite it being his hometown of Miami, Florida, throughout the week prior to Wrestlemania Riley was very vocal about not having a match at Wrestlemania feeling as though he was being disrespected by not being on the card when it was in his hometown and that he deserved to be on the card. The following night on RAW Riley's losing streak continued when he lost to Clark Gabriel.
Following his loss to Clark Gabriel, Riley was quietly moved to Smackdown so he could be closer to his real life girlfriend; Smackdown Diva, Eve Torres. Riley is currently set to replace former rival Ciaran O'Donnell on the SD World Tour who is moving to RAW in his place. Riley made his debut on the May 4th episode of Smackdown interrupting Travis Kooper and proceeded to assault him with a microphone before hitting him with the Final Eclipse. In that same night he made fun of Smackdown diva, Trista Anderson showing signs of a possible feud between the two.
The following week on the May 11th episode of Smackdown Riley suffered his first loss since joining the Smackdown roster to Jon Moxley. That same night Riley once again made fun of Trista Anderson along with her boyfriend, Jimmy Rave. On the May 18th episode of Smackdown Riley teamed up with his girlfriend, Eve Torres to face Travis Kooper and Mickie James however the two were unsuccessful in getting a win after Kooper pinned Riley. That night it was revealed that Riley would face Trista Anderson in a Tables Match at Extreme Rules. At the PPV Riley would lose to Trista which extended his losing streak to 12 dating back to February.
Following the match; Riley would be assaulted by the debuting Aaron Jacobs and would be put through another table. This was used as an injury angle to write Riley off television, as Riley was stretchered away after the match. The next day, WWE acknowledged on their website that Riley had been released from his contract after being unhappy with the direction of his character since February.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling; Independent circuit
On June 28, 2012 Riley, working under the ring name Riley Daniels, made his debut for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), losing to Sonjay Dutt in a TNA X Division Championship tournament qualifying match on Impact Wrestling. On July 8 at Destination X, Riley got another opportunity to earn his way back into the tournament, but was defeated by Mason Andrews in a four-way Last Chance match, which also included Dakota Darsow and Lars Only.
After his brief stint in TNA; Riley made his debut for International Wrestling Association (IWA) based out of Puerto Rico at their annual August PPV, Armagedón defeating current IWA Xtreme Combat Division Champion Havok in a non-title match once again using the ring name Riley Daniels. Riley would unsuccessfully challenge for the IWA Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship at IWA's September PPV, Golpe de Estado losing to Chris Angel.
Return to WWE
Feud with Travis Kooper and injury (2012)
Riley made his return to the WWE after a near 5 month absence as a heel on the October 5, 2012 episode of Smackdown in a backstage segment where he would assault an already injured Aaron Eden. Riley wrestled his first match since returning on the 2012 Japan tour on October 7, 2012 in Tokyo working as a babyface despite his on-screen heel character, defeating Chris Hero. This marked Riley's first time wrestling in Japan since he left NJPW in July 2011. On the October 12, 2012 episode of Smackdown in Nashville, Tennessee Riley would cement his status as a heel and call out Aaron Eden in the middle of the ring, despite knowing he was currently injured and would go on to gloat about how he had ended Eden's career and that he would never be seen again. Later that night Riley would make his television return to the ring in a loss to Michael Noventa after he was distracted by the entrance music of Ted DiBiase allowing Noventa to get the win.
On the October 19, 2012 episode of Smackdown Riley suffered a loss to rival, Travis Kooper and following the match interim General Manager — William Regal announced that Kooper and Riley would face in a Best of Three Series. This stemmed from their two matches while on tour in Japan that impressed both officials and management. On the November 2, 2012 episode of Smackdown Kooper was able to defeat Riley again thus winning the first match of the Best of Three Series. Riley would pull even the following week on the November 9, 2012 episode of Smackdown with a victory over Kooper in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
The third and final match of the series took place on November 25, 2012 at the Survivor Series PPV where Kooper would emerge victorious in a brutal and bloody Hell in a Cell match. Midway through the match Riley would end up suffering a legitimate injury, and would force On the following episode of Smackdown Riley called Kooper out to the ring to try and bury the hatchet after their match, however it was a set-up as Riley suckered Kooper out only to have him attacked from behind by Jack Evans. AJ Styles however would come to the aid of Kooper and would run off both Evans and Riley.
NXT; Return to SmackDown (2013–present)
Riley would then be sidelined for the next four months due to a herniated disc in his back and would take some time off. Riley would make his in-ring return on February 28, 2013; once again under his Michael Riley ring name, in their developmental territory, NXT Wrestling. Riley made a successful return with a victory over Conor O'Brian. On March 2, 2013 at the tapings for the March 28 episode Riley defeated both Big E. Langston and Bo Dallas to win the NXT Championship for the first time.
On the May 2, 2013 episode of NXT Riley was scheduled to defend the NXT Championship against Big E. Langston and Leo Kruger, however the match ended in a no contest when Xavier Woods interfered and attacked all three men. On May 30, 2013 at the tapings for the June 6, episode of NXT, Riley lost the NXT Championship back to Big E. Langston in a Fatal Four Way that also included Leo Kruger and Xavier Woods with Kruger being pinned by Langston.
After this Riley would make his return to the main roster on the June 14, episode of SmackDown as a face.
Riley has an older brother, Thomas Riley who is a singer-songwriter who's collaborated with such artists as Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull. Riley has remained close friends with former FCW Superstars Anton Taylor and Gabriel Walker and his currently good friends with fellow Smackdown Superstar Travis Kooper.
Riley was previously in a relationship with model Danielle Higgins, but the two have since broken up. Riley previously dated British actress Kate Beckinsale. They began dating in mid October 2011. On December 6, 2011 Riley was involved in an altercation with Kate Beckinsale's ex-husband, Len Wiseman which lead Riley ending up punching Wiseman in the jaw. Wiseman intended to file a lawsuit against Riley however it was later dropped. The couple would later split in March 2012. Riley briefly dated fellow wrestler, Layla El in October 2012.
- Final Eclipse - (Rolling cutter) – (2012–present)
- Pelé Kick (Backflip Kick) – (adopted from AJ Styles)
- Touched by an Angel – (Reverse STO followed into a Koji Clutch)
- Saving Grace – (STO backbreaker followed by a Downward Spiral)
- Phenomenon – (Standing moonsault side slam)
- Kutajihami – (Standing shiranui into a Dragon sleeper)
- Hell's Revolt – (Fireman's carry dropped into a knee lift) - used as a tribute to CM Punk.
- No Fear (Springboard flying forearm smash)
- Multiple kick variations
- Multiple DDT variations
- Written in Blood – (Swinging reverse STO)
- Hurricanrana, sometimes while springboarding
- Falling clothesline
- Snap Suplex
- Snap scoop powerslam
- Cobra Clutch
- Superman – (Fosbury Flop)
- Double Jump Moonsault
- Osore shirazu
- Mister Miami 305
- The Highlight of the Night
- The Human Highlight Reel
- "Overcome" by Creed (FCW; October 16, 2011–March 4, 2012)
- "Figure 0.9" by Linkin Park (March 19, 2012–April 30, 2012)
- "Hostage" by Digital Summer (May 4, 2012–May 27, 2012; June 28, 2012–July 8, 2012)
- "Hear Me Now" by Hollywood Undead (October 12, 2012–November 30, 2012)
- "New Divide (Rock Remix)" by Linkin Park (NXT; February 28, 2013–May 30, 2013)
- "Seven Nation Army (Glitch Mob Remix)" by The White Stripes (June 2013–present)
Championships and accomplishments
- Florida Championship Wrestling / NXT Wrestling
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- World Wrestling Entertainment