By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Insight With Chris Van Vliet with guest Lio Rush
Host: Chris Van Vliet
Podcast available via Podcasts.Apple.com
Video available at Chris Van Vliet’s YouTube Page
On a possible WWE return: “Um, I think that it potentially could. I think yeah, I think it potentially could lead me back to WWE. I think at a certain point, it would ultimately be up to me whether I want to go that route again or not. I realized that nothing is forever. So being presented certain opportunities, I truly want to make the most out of them, and I want to do my absolute best to make sure there’s no, you know, wasted time, no wasted movement, no wasted effort. And every little thing that I do needs to be a building block to, you know, a bigger legacy or a bigger whatever the case may be to continue to do the things that I want and to continue to create opportunities for my kids to be able to do what they truly want.
“So if you know spending another 3, 5, 10 years in WWE to build something bigger than me, then I’ll take that. And I feel like me going through that process and me already knowing what that system is like and how things are ran. I mean, who knows if it’s ran the same? I have no idea. But I think already having that experience and having that, that showing on their television network could work out in my favor. I mean, I see it all the time. I think a great example of that, and obviously he’s not the only one, but I definitely, I mean, I’ve seen in real time, you know, Drew McIntyre getting released, coming back. I wrestled him when he was on the Indies. And I think if I’m not mistaken, I think I was his very last match on the Indies or second to last match before he ended up going back.”
On being Bobby Lashley’s manager: “When I got put in that role, it was very confusing for me. It was very confusing and very frustrating. I think it was confusing for me, I didn’t really know how to wrap my head around what was actually happening, things were just moving so quickly, I feel like I didn’t really have a chance to think to myself or just have a grasp on, you know, why I feel so upset. And I think getting older and not being in that environment anymore. Just realizing, you know, I just got signed to WWE, I’m 21, 22 years old. I was able to get signed here without like, really a try out or, or anything, but I got noticed because of my wrestling in Ring of Honor. And then when you get told to be in a speaking role, and mainly just like a speaking role.
“Yeah, I’m still so, I feel like I’m still so hungry, athletically, and I feel like I just got to this place where, you know, I’ve always wanted to be. I grew up an athlete, my entire life feels like I should be an athlete and feels like I should be doing something physical. And I made it somewhere, you know, at the top of this mountain, doing something physical and being the best at doing something physical. So when that physicality kind of got, like, chopped from underneath me, at 21, 22 years old, you know, I didn’t grow up, like 4, 5, 6, years old, saying that I wanted to be a manager in WWE. So I feel like I also got a little scared and nervous that, okay, this is gonna be my legacy and WWE, like I worked so hard, so many years to try to be a professional wrestler in WWE, and then that stamp of like, okay, you’re a manager. And I didn’t really know how to sit with that. Now, I was making decent money. I was out there with Bobby Lashley, a guy that I grew up watching and admired, still to this day.”
On coming out of retirement: “Yeah, I was going through a lot in that time period. I think personally, I was going through a lot on top of the physical injuries that I had, and it kind of just made me put a lot of things in perspective. Just wanted to figure out what I needed to, like, prioritize in my life. I definitely feel like I grew up with a lot of responsibility that someone my age isn’t really, I wouldn’t say supposed to go through, but it’s definitely an interesting situation with me being currently 28 years old.”
On Lio Rush’s relationship with Tony Khan: “Um, probably a little bit [of animosity]. I mean, how can there not be? But I think Tony, I like Tony a lot. I really, I really, really like Tony. I think that’s the first time I’m saying that out loud. Yeah, I can’t take it back now. But I do like Tony and I, like, I was, one thing that made me so willing to give AEW, a chance because I feel like I was scarred from my WWE run. I feel like I was, you know, traumatized a little bit. Tony liked me a lot. I feel like we connected pretty quickly. And I feel like that’s why things probably, there was a lot of emotion involved with. And I probably shouldn’t have brought it, brought the emotion out, but I’m glad again, I’m glad. I’m glad that I did.
“I’m glad that I show people that I stand for something. I’m glad that I show people that I care about myself, I care about others. It’s not always about a pay check to me. Yeah, I am, I’m sorry, I’m kind of, I mean, this is huge. For me, like really, because this is the first time that I’m really, really speaking on it. Like, you know, I’ve talked about it, but I haven’t really, really talked about it in that sense, like with my actual like relationship with Tony and stuff like that.
Whether he’s talked to Tony Khan since he left AEW “Uh, yeah. Yeah. I’ve talked to him a few times. Yeah. I’ve, we’ve talked to a number of times. And it’s always great. It’s always, you know, how you been good to hear from you. You know, if the show was on the air, yeah, I try to like pop out and see and stuff like that. So the love is still there. The support is still there.
“Yeah, I think there’s just other factors into me actually being there. I mean, I’m doing so much right now. I’m happy with what I’m doing. It’s not really like I’m trying to force something to happen. You know if it happens, it happens. But I love the direction that I’m going in right now. I love what I’m doing, I’m glad that I feel like I don’t really have any true like bad blood within wrestling, I feel like with me being so active right now. And being in front of people. It’s a lot different when you’re in front of somebody, you can see them, you can kind of feel their energy, you can see why they’re doing what they’re doing and stuff like that.
“So I think a lot of people with me popping up back up like this so consistently and so kind of like making a pretty big splash with, you know, any show that I that I do, I feel like people are starting to see me and see my characteristics more and you know, who I am as a person, as a performer. Maybe respected my work a little bit more realizing that I’m 28, but I’ve been doing this for almost a decade now. I think people are just kind of coming to terms and, and just really starting to see me. Yeah, it’s a nice feeling.”
He has a problem with WWE. He has a problem with AEW.
And can’t see what the common denominator is.