Lio Rush Is Determined To Become The First Black AEW World Champion

In a new interview with Forbes, AEW's Lio Rush discussed a variety of topics regarding the companies he's working with – NJPW and AEW. In the case of New Japan, Lio says that it's a place he felt destined to arrive at eventually, even before his WWE run.

"New Japan is such an incredible place," said Rush. "The history, and the amount of respect it has from viewers, people who are fans and people who are wrestlers. I feel like New Japan just has that aura about it that everybody wants to be there because it's so respected and the wrestlers that are there for a reason. I'm so glad I'm there. I think I was always supposed to be in New Japan, at least I always wanted to be in New Japan before I was in WWE, but I just so happened to make it to WWE first. When I got released from WWE, and New Japan reached out to me, I was so excited. I was like, 'this is that push that I needed.'

"It has such a real-life sport and competitive aspect to it, and that's where I come from," he continued. "I was a two-time All-American amateur wrestler, I've played football, I've played basketball and baseball, so I just have a very competitive spirit and nature about me so I'm glad that I'm there."

Lio, just recently signing with AEW, has his sights set on his new pairing with Dante Martin of "Top Flight". While Dante's brother is out of action, Lio has committed to backing up the rising star as his tag team partner.

"I've always had my interest in working with Dante," said Rush.

"I actually met his brother [Darius Martin] when I was in Ring of Honor and he went to the show as a fan, as a teenager. We took a picture and everything. So it's pretty cool that it's come full circle and I'm working with Dante in AEW. I've seen so much of myself in him when I was his age and he is even better than I was when I was his age. I had help when I was younger, but I didn't have someone coaching me and taking me step-by-step and telling me what their experience was. I'm glad that I could be that person for Dante as early as he is in his career. Athletically, he's amazing. I kind of can't believe it."

But what will happen when the other half of "Top Flight", Darius Martin, comes back to AEW? Rush is open to the idea of creating a trios group with the brothers if that's what the fans want to see.

"That's definitely an exciting idea," said Rush.

"Something that is a huge possibility whenever Darius comes back and he's all healed up, who knows? Who knows what's going to happen within that time. But if it goes the way that you want it to go—and I'm sure a lot of other people who are watching it currently—I think it would be really cool to have all three of us together, that would be pretty dope."

Rush also wants to make a huge impact in AEW as a singles star, noting that he hopes to represent AEW as the first black AEW World Champion one day. He thinks this representation is important for the progression of AEW as a whole.

"Representation, it changes lives," said Rush.

"I didn't have too many good examples of someone who can set the blueprint for somebody like me. At the time, when I was a wrestling fan, there wasn't a short, Black, tattooed, dread-head guy who likes music from D.C. So the path that I was going, I was creating. I think that has opened up doors for a lot of people, but I want to be a world champion. I think I'm more than capable.

"If I'm not ready for something, I'll say I'm not ready for something. But I'm ready. I've been ready," Rush continued.

"I want to take that step. I want to be that guy that everybody is looking at and say 'Man, he did it. And he did it through the face of adversity.' Because I've had some ups and downs in my career, and I've showed time and time again that I'm not someone who's going to just lay down and give up on my passion and my dreams. I think that's a good role model, just in life. Wrestling aside, to see someone like myself move the way that I move in life and inspire the people who look like me is a beautiful thing.  I want to be that. I want to be that for everybody, and I think that I can be that. I think I have the mic skills, I think that I have the in-ring capability, I think that I'm a pretty personable and likable person. And I think I'm real. I think I'm honest. This is a glass panel right here, I don't hold anything back and I think that's what a champion is and I want to be the first African-American world champion in AEW."