Lio Rush On Why Vince McMahon Paired Him With Bobby Lashley

In an appearance on Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette, AEW star Lio Rush talked about his three year run in the WWE. For Rush, it was a time marred by the backstage politics of the WWE, though he recalls being comfortable around two wrestlers – one he worked closely with and one he didn't.


"I remember, and I could be slightly wrong, the two instances that I remember, one was Bobby because I was working with him every week and we would talk all the time," Rush said. "And he knew me better than anybody did. He knew what kind of person I was, he knew my values, my morals, and everything like that. But one person I didn't really talk to all that much but saw me from afar, and he expressed he was a fan of me, was Xavier Woods. I remember he pulled me into a room and he was just talking to me. He wanted to know what I was thinking, how I was as a person and how I can maybe better assist people warming up to me in a way.

"That's so cool that he did that, because it was real. It was genuine. We didn't talk about wrestling. It was just like 'how are you?' But I think the overall aura of backstage WWE is just a little, it's a little difficult. For me at least, especially when you just want to do your absolute best every week and you just want to work, you want to make a name for yourself."


Rush's time in WWE was best known for his run as Bobby Lashley's manager/hype man, a role he held from the fall of 2018 till spring of 2019. He took Paquette through his journey of how he got the job managing Lashley and how his promo skills proved to be a valuable tool in doing so.

"That was pretty surreal," Rush said. "I mean, just my whole journey in WWE was pretty surreal to me. From the point of getting signed to me being in NXT for only two matches before I got put up to 205 (Live), and then I was only in 205 for about four months before I got put up on RAW. And I was doing 205 and RAW at the same time. That came about, that stemmed from me being in the PC and just wanting to be so ready for TV. And asking, I believe his name Joe Castro, I remember one day asking him to watch my promo from promo class. And he said that he would. He was kind of texting while my promo was going on and I saw it in the corner of my eye, so I asked him if he watched my promo and he had said 'yeah, it was great.' And I was just like 'you didn't watch it!' It just lit such a fire underneath me.

"I was just asking for some tips and he had told me I wasn't ready for TV and I wasn't going to be ready for awhile. There was just so much going through my head. I was thinking 'why am I even signed?' But I took that moment to say 'you know what? I think I am ready for TV. And I'm going to show you that I'm ready for TV.' So I started cutting promos on my phone every day, and I would release a promo every day on my Instagram or my Twitter. And they started really catching fire. I was really doing it every day, all the way to me getting signed with 205.


"I got a call from when I flew back home from 205 saying I was needed to Monday Night RAW, and to send my flight detail. I was like 'what? I'm needed for RAW?' They wouldn't tell me what I was doing, so I'm backstage when I get their and I'm panicking. I don't know what's going on. Paul Heyman walked up to me and said 'Vince saw one of your promos that one of the writers had shown him from your social media. He thought you were great and he wanted to pair you up with Bobby.' I was like 'oh man, that's so cool.' I just couldn't believe that me taking that initiative to put out promos essentially landed me a job on RAW. And it was said by Vince.

"Vince had pulled me into his office and said that I was going to be working with Bobby. And I didn't know what it was going to be, and he kept saying like a hype man. I'm a WWE fan, so I never heard of a hype man. I was like 'what is a hype man?' He said 'Paul will talk to you about it.' We went into the weight room and he was saying that I was essentially going to be Bobby's manager, but in a way of kind of like Jimmy Hart. I was going to be loud, and I was going to wear obnoxious suits and I was going to be that mouthpiece for Bobby. That was the most surreal day of my life. That original promo, that was Paul's voice. That was all Paul."


Looking back, Rush is torn on how his main roster run went with WWE. While he is grateful to have been paired with Lashley and says it didn't get better than that, he also wished he had been able to show off his wrestling schools more on such a big stage.

"I was just super grateful for the opportunity to even be on RAW," Rush said. "And then let alone to be paired up with Bobby? I mean, for me, it didn't get any better than that. And all the while I was nervous, I was scared. I was thrown to the wolves in a sense. That was a lot. It taught me so much and it forced me to really hone in on my promos and be considered a promo guy, which I never thought was going to be. My whole life, I was just so focused on my athletics. Getting to WWE and signing there, of course that's my goal that I'd dreamt of since I was a kid, was being a professional wrestling. I don't think a lot of people say that they want to be a manager.

"That was hard for me to swallow, just because I have friends that I saw get signed that went in there and ended up doing a job that they didn't want to do. But it's stuck with them throughout their entire career. I was a little nervous that I was going to do it so good that I would trap myself and put myself in a position of just being a manager forever. And that was a lot, that was a lot. But at the same time, I wanted to do my best. I couldn't help it. Of course I would've liked to done a lot more wrestling. I think I would've put on some really good matches and I think I would've been talked about even more than I was talked about if I was wrestling. Yeah, I would've liked to have wrestled a little more."


If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription