Lio Rush: Is He a Hero or a Villain?

In addition to following the world of comics and popular culture, I also follow the world of professional wrestling. I watch a lot of WWE, some of Impact Wrestling and some of the Indies. I am looking forward to seeing All Elite Wrestling. Overall, I enjoy pro-wrestling and have done so ever since I was 11-years old.

And since I am a wrestling fan, there is one story that has caught my interest and one that I felt I needed to write about. The story involves a wrestler name Lio Rush, who was viewed by many in the wrestling community to be a prodigy and a WWE hopeful with a promising future. At 22-years old, Rush was signed to a full-time WWE contract on July 2017.

However, as Rush transitioned into the WWE, his troubles began. Around October 2017, tweeted a joke on his Twitter account about Tennile Dashwood (formerly known as Emma) getting fired from the WWE because she was not ready for Asuka. The tweet ended with a clown emoji which got several WWE wrestlers incensed. Many wrestlers called Rush out on social media for his conduct and the newcomer quickly apologize but the damage had been done. Lio Rush had a black spot in his WWE career that would follow him up to this day.

Despite being called up to the 205 Live roster and becoming the mouthpiece to the quiet and Bobby Lashley, Rush’s troubles did not end after that infamous tweet he posted.

Rush was reported to have rubbed people in a narcissistic manner. Several reports viewed Rush in an arrogant light by saying that he and his wife were going to have a reality show about their lives on the road and that he was this huge megastar. Other reports had shown Rush being argumentative with wrestlers like Finn Balor who reportedly tried to advised him on the ramifications of bringing loved ones to WWE meetings. One report even went into detail how he disrespected WWE veterans by not doing the tasks asked of him as a junior member of the roster; such tasks range from offering veterans water after a match or helping to set up the WWE rings. As a result, Rush was apparently blacklisted from appearing on Raw this past Monday or future shows going forward. Not so surprising, the segment between The Miz and Bobby Lashley had no mention of Lio Rush.

One thing is clear from all this, Rush’s career with the WWE  seems to be in serious jeopardy.

But is it really? It depends on who you really ask. After all, the only people who could answer that question is the WWE brass and Lio Rush himself. The real question here since it involves Lio Rush, both the man and wrestler, is is he a hero or a villain?

Here’s my answer that only as a fan I can give: in some respects, he is a hero…in other respects, he is a villain.

First off, here’s why I say that Lio Rush is a hero.

The intrepid Lio Rush has been seen in various independent promotions showcasing his repertoire of wrestling skills and breathtaking stunts. To me, the young star is the epitome of the American Dream having to come from very little only to work hard and make a name for himself in something that some portray as choreographed fighting. As Rush showcased his amazing talent in Maryland Championship Wrestling, Combat Zone Wrestling and Ring of Honor, the WWE began to take notice and eventually hired the young talent. In my view, Lio Rush stuck to his goal of wanting to be a WWE superstar and made it. In the WWE, he had stellar matches against his real life buddy, Patrick Clark better known as the flamboyant Velveteen Dream. Things were looking promising until the Emma-Asuka tweet came out and that was when I began to see a more cocky and sinister side to Rush which brings me to my second argument of why I view him as a villain.

Knowing that the WWE has rules and procedures on how to go about things, Rush should have known better than to break those rules. As stringent as they are, there is a reason behind those rules. WWE is a publicly owned company known world wide. They have a brand. If anyone were to get out of line, it would be a mark on the WWE. And if the reports of Rush’s behavior are true, it would mean big trouble for not only Rush but Vince McMahon’s empire. Let’s play devil’s advocate and let’s say that Lio Rush does become a big megastar that he had foreseen. Rush is maybe a four time WWE Champion or Universal Champion. One day, the news breaks of him doing something that could damage not only his reputation but ruin the WWE’s image which is now considered a family friendly product.

How would that look to a billion dollar company? Just ask Bill DeMont, formerly Hugh Morris, who was once a former wrestler and trainer in the WWE Performance Center. News of his bullying his trainees got so viral that he had to resign in fear of casting WWE in a bad light. Or what about Eric Arndt better known as Enzo Amore? Amore, known for being a menace backstage was eventually fired for allegedly sexually assaulting a young woman battling mental health issues. Or how about Hulk Hogan? The legendary wrestler was recorded muttering the N-word to the point where the WWE had no choice but to fire him. A year ago, Hogan has been reinstated back into the WWE Hall of Fame and appeared on some WWE shows with strong applause.

With these examples, it is no wonder that WWE is always so quick to put out a small fire before it gets big. Rush’s behavior, regardless of his position in the company, is a liability and this is what would make him a villain in the eyes of his fellow wrestlers, the WWE brass, and the WWE Universe.

In conclusion, I am no fan of Lio Rush but I don’t want him to fail either. If what is being said in the news wires is true, then Rush has two choices he can make. In my opinion, he should quit the WWE and go back to the Indies where he probably would feel more comfortable and less restricted. Or he can get his act together and learn to follow the WWE’s rules and policies. Mike “The Miz” Mizanin was in a similar predicament and he decided to get his act together. Today, he is one of the WWE’s biggest stars and more respected in the locker room than he was when he started out.

As for the fans, I would not be so quick to say awful things about someone we do not know personally. For all we know, Lio Rush could have went through something in his childhood or some period in his life to act the way he does. I understand that there is no excuse for bad behavior but, their should also be some understanding. I feel that if someone were to understand Rush, that person could get him the help that he needs. Maybe that person was Finn Balor or maybe it might be someone outside the wrestling business.

Finn-Balor-Lio-Rush
Lio Rush taking on Finn Balor. Credit: WWE

Either way, to see someone fail in what they love or have a passion for is heart breaking. I’ve been there and it is not a good feeling.  This essay is not aimed at knocking down Rush but it is just a fan’s understanding of how conducting yourself a certain way can predicate certain reactions from peers. In short, Rush is not an evil person. He may need to meditate on what is working for him and what he can improve on. I think we as the WWE Universe of pro-wrestling fans owe him that.

What are your thoughts? Please comment on what you think about the whole situation and remember constant readers, stay ever so awesome.


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