Lio Rush discusses his WWE release, clashing with Triple H & Ever After [EXCLUSIVE]

We recently caught up with Lio Rush!
We recently caught up with Lio Rush!

Lio Rush sparked a frenzy following his recent release from WWE when he hinted that he may never wrestle again. The 25-year-old took WWE by storm during his time in the company, from appearing on WWE RAW to his recent run as Cruiserweight Champion but now looks to be concentrating on his music career.

Well, I was fortunate enough to speak with the former NXT Cruiserweight Champion to find out if Rush really is retiring from in-ring action, as well as talking about his interactions with Triple H and Vince McMahon, and so much more.

Sportskeeda meets Lio Rush

You can watch a clip below, or read on for the entire interview.


Last time we spoke it was about Scenic Lullaby and you did say more music was coming. How did we get from that song to a new album?

Yeah, man. You know, first starting out and doing Scenic Lullaby, I was really excited, really excited because this was my first single, like you said, something new and I wanted to dip my toes into and luckily the fans, they enjoyed it, they liked it, they respected the fact that I stepped out of my comfort zone, out of my comfort zone to other people but this is something I always wanted to do.


Now, you know, the comparison to Ever After, you know, back then, Scenic Lullaby was my first single and now I'm about to release my first album and it's such a cool feeling seeing where I came from with Scenic Lullaby all the way until now, my very first album. Not only my first album but my first major project since my WWE release, so I'm really excited about it.

Your music has been very versatile thus far. How would you explain Ever After?

I think the same way. I'm inspired and influenced by so many different styles and genres, and stuff like that, and different artists, and I tried to tie all of my inspirations into the style that I like doing. I think Ever After is pretty special because I definitely do think it touches on different styles, different genres, and Ever After is a concept album, so there is going to be a similar theme and story that follows throughout the album but, yeah, I feel like Ever After is going to be a new side of me, a layer of, a vulnerable layout that people haven't heard or seen yet, so I'm excited.

If you could duet with one wrestler, who would it be?

With another wrestler? I guess there's not many. There's not many out there but I mean the one that comes to mind that seems like he's pretty hot as far as people liking and respecting what he's doing as far as music is R-Truth, Ron Killings. That's the only one that I can think of because he's really active, you know, and I would count Josiah Williams, Wrestle, and Flow, but he's not a wrestler. Yeah.

Next: Lio Rush reveals how he returned to WWE after six months away

Lio Rush took RAW by storm before his hiatus
Lio Rush took RAW by storm before his hiatus

You recently put out a tweet to say you may never wrestle again. Could you clarify that?

I think it was both. I knew that this album was coming out, I knew I was going to continue to pursue music so, in that sense, I'm thinking, 'Man, I'm doing so much with music, this is a passion of mine, I just might not step into the ring again.'

There's also another layer of that tweet where it is a pretty real situation because, before the release, I always told myself and I would talk to my family members and friends, inside and outside of the business and say, 'I have a gut feeling that I'm not going to be in the world of wrestling anymore.' Obviously the memories and the mark that I left on wrestling will stay there but me physically being a part of the wrestling business might disappear sooner than later.

Yeah, I don't know what it was but, even after the release, it just made me think about it even more. There's just a lot of things that I've gone through in the wrestling business that I feel like have traumatized me in a way and that has just been pretty disappointing.


Looking at me as a kid and wanting to do this, and just seeing the bright lights and the action, and daredevil stunts and stuff like that, to me, becoming one of the people in the business and being part of the action but, you know, I didn't realize all the stuff that came with that, backstage, like the politics and all of the... Excuse my language but the bull**** that goes on in wrestling and I took a lot of time out of my personal life to invest into wrestling - and I feel like it definitely caught up with me - and now that I have this opportunity to be home with my family and focus on myself and my relationships, and my music.

I'm just happy right now, and why would I put myself back in a position where I didn't have control over a lot of things, and I was frustrated, angry, confused? Why put myself back in that position when I can be over here and be happy, and stay happy?


Last time we spoke, you were taking some time away from WWE. You did end up back and winning gold. How did that happen?

Yeah, I think so, just because, when I took that hiatus from the company, I thought that they were done with me. During that entire time period when I was home, which was the six months, I didn't hear a single word from the company. There was no urge to reach out to me to see how I was doing and how my family was doing, there was no urge to keep me updated on what my wrestling career was going to be.

So I moved on with life. I moved on with everything. I came to the conclusion, or better yet, I realized and I accepted the situation for what it was, and I just told myself and told my family that it was time to move on, and then I was in California because I was looking at some property there because I was going to move to California.


While I was out there, I got a call from Hunter [Triple H] saying that he wanted to bring me back but, this time, for NXT because they were going to relaunch the whole brand on USA Network and they thought my past exposure on USA Network could help NXT with their exposure on the USA Network.

So, it definitely came as a surprise to me. I think the thing that came as a surprise to me was me being called back to NXT but, once I was there, I don't think that was a surprise to me that I won a Championship because I feel like I've worked my ass off to earn it.

I feel like I earned the spot of being the face of the Cruiserweight Division, just because of everything that I've done and sacrificed, the time, effort and hard work I put in to invest in myself, to show people that not only am I the best, or think or believe that I'm the best in the world at this but that I can be a face of a division and of a brand.

So, yeah, I don't think me winning the Championship came as a surprise to me because I knew that I was going to work my *** off to get there.


Next: Lio Rush discusses his release

Lio Rush won the Cruiserweight Championship following his return
Lio Rush won the Cruiserweight Championship following his return

Of course, you were recently released - but the thing that struck me was your maturity when you put out a really heartfelt message on that day ahead of the releases. What was the thinking behind that?

Yeah, I think I just... I heard what was going to happen that day, you know, via different media outlets, and I knew that it had to be true. It had to be true. If it was being covered this much by mainstream news sites, then it had to be true, so, in my head, I just... I knew that, regardless of if I was going to be a part of it or not, it was going to be a very sh***y situation and I knew it was going to be messed up and it was going to be disappointing for a lot of people.


So, I just figured that I would put out something to let everybody know that, "All I know is a lot of us are going through a hard time at the moment with the pandemic and everything but, at the end of the day, if you end up losing your job, just know that the wrestling world as an entire family and that you're going to be okay. We are all going to be okay because we are all looking out for each other," so I was just trying to lighten up the mood a little bit to tell people that, I know something bad is going to happen but just know at the end of the day, me included, I've got your back.

Did you know you were going to be one of the people released when you put out that statement?

I had a feeling that I was going to be one of the people just because of the lack of communication between me and WWE management weeks before. Once I saw the news, I ended up calling the head of talent relations, which is Mark Carano, and I just asked him straight up.

I said, "I'm seeing a whole bunch of stuff online about people are going to be released today and I know it's true so before I hear about it online, can you just tell me if I'm going to be one of these people released today?" And he said he was going to call me in a few minutes but, "Yes, you're one of those people who are going to be released today," and I didn't even question it, I didn't ask why, I didn't really say anything, I just said, "Okay, thank you," and I just kept it moving. A couple of hours later, the news broke and I was a part of that first group of people who got released.

Next: Lio Rush discusses his relationships with Triple H and Vince McMahon

Lio Rush spent three years in WWE
Lio Rush spent three years in WWE

Before we lift the mood again, one last thing I need to ask. You mentioned Triple H being the one to bring you back after the hiatus. How did the relationship end between you and Triple H, or you and Vince McMahon? Did it end on good terms?

I really don't know. I have no idea. I mean, that first hiatus that I had from the company, I was dealing with Vince and, yeah, he had said that he was going to reach out to me at some point during my time at home but I just never got a call from anybody or heard anything from anybody so I was dealing with Vince at that point but then, once I came back to the company, and I started to wrestle for 205 Live again, being at the same tapings as Friday Night SmackDown on FOX, I saw Vince, I would see Vince all the time and he would just... He would say, you know, "Hey, good to see you hope you're doing okay," and stuff like that, so it felt like... Even though he didn't really reach back out to me after the initial hiatus, it felt like he still acknowledged me, he still acknowledged the fact that I was away and now I'm back, so that was a good feeling to have from the boss.


Triple H... I don't know if it ended on good terms or not because I feel like me and Hunter, we clashed heads a lot. We were always in disagreement as far as what the plan was for me and how he saw me as a character or how he saw me as an asset to the brand.

I feel like we were just always disagreeing all the time and it s****d because obviously I looked up to Triple H when I was a kid and stuff like that, so it was weird trying to break that separation from being an admirer of his but now, at the same time, I'm an employee of his and he is my boss, so it was hard for me to separate the two and it was kind of disappointing every time I had a conversation with him - but the lack of communication leading up to the initial release was with Hunter.

You know, I was having some back-and-forth conversations with him, and then, out of nowhere, it just kind of stopped four weeks. It just stopped. That's how I knew that something was weird, something wasn't right, and I felt like it was coming, my release was coming.

Triple H welcomes Lio Rush to WWE
Triple H welcomes Lio Rush to WWE

One man who I’ve interviewed since who spoke very highly of you is Bobby Lashley. what do you think of Bobby and what he’s doing just now?

I think he's incredible, and he's a living legend. Living legend. Everything I say about him in my promos is true, dude. He's awesome. Maybe not the "smells like money" part. Because he was always sweaty from the matches but it was pretty funny. Yeah, he's awesome, man. He taught me a lot while I was with him, with that run on Monday Night RAW. And just overall a good dude, a family man.


A lot of respect, a lot of mutual respect between the two of us just because we both went into a situation where we didn't know the direction, we didn't know the creative for it and we went out there every week on a limb and kind of did everything on the fly, just to see what stuck, and it was really cool. A lot of people reacted very positively towards all the stuff that we were doing and that's because me and Bobby would sit down and talk, and brainstorm ideas and, yeah, really good dude.


I'm not sure what he's doing now because obviously, since the release, I haven't really been involved in WWE or wanted to see the product itself but I'm sure whatever he's doing right now, he's giving it his all, 100% and he's going to land on his feet. If he's not on his feet now, he will be.

Next: What's next for Lio Rush?

Lio Rush did it all in WWE!
Lio Rush did it all in WWE!

Your recent run with WWE I think allowed everyone to see your in-ring work properly showcased. How do you look back on it - with fondness or regret?

No, man. No regret. No regrets whatsoever. You know, I feel, through it all, I stayed true to myself and I've been honest, I showed people the real me off-screen. I did my job on screen, which was awesome. I did my job. I can truly say that I did my job and I tried my best, and my best was enough... Enough to get me over but not enough to keep me in the company, obviously!


But, yeah, I feel good about the whole thing, man. I feel like I accomplished so much in the short three years that I'd been there. A lot of things that are things that people 10-15+ years in the company haven't even reached yet so I feel like I did my job, I feel like I accomplished something. I feel like I've carved my name in the WWE history books and it's never coming out, so I feel good about it, man.

I honestly... I got to win my Championship. I got to be a manager, I got to be on commentary, I got to be at the Royal Rumble, got to be at WrestleMania, NXT, 205 Live, Mixed Match Challenge, Monday Night RAW. I got to invade Friday Night SmackDown on a D-X tank. I got to have the first NXT victory at the first point in the Survivor Series stand-off. Man, I did everything and I'm glad. I'm glad.


What's the aim for Ever After? If you look back in two or three years, what do you want this album to represent?

Like, I touched on the subject before but I really tried to focus on my vulnerability with this album and it doesn't get any more vulnerable than now with the position that I'm in, the story that I'm telling with the album, with my love life and stuff like that, so I definitely think that this is something that's going to be really special.

Now, we know you have a new album on the way, and I’m sure music will be something you’ll concentrate on, but will we see you in the ring again? If so, where would be the ideal place for you?

Yeah, that's a really tough question. I think that just goes back to my tweet. It's going to take a lot for me to just put myself back in that situation, not even just financially. I think I'm just going to have to cross that bridge when I get to it.

You can follow Lio Rush on Twitter here, and listen to Lio's new album 'Ever After' here.

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Edited by Zaid Khan
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