Lio Rush made his WWE main roster debut in the middle of last year and was paired with Bobby Lashley a short time later. It was a natural pairing of a slick-talking manager being matched with a monstrous heel and Rush talked about how it all came about on Lilian Garcia's podcast.
"Everything was moving so fast, and honestly I was excited and so fortunate and honored to be paired with Bobby Lashley," said Rush. "I don't want to make him feel old but I was watching him when I was younger and it's so crazy when I found out that was going to happen.
"I was so ready. I didn't even know what I was going to do, but whatever it was I was just ready to tackle it full force. At the same time everything was moving so quickly because I had been signed by WWE/NXT and within 6-7 months I got moved to 205 Live and then within another 5 months I got the call for WWE Raw, I was like, oh my goodness. I had a lot going on."
Rush had earned a bit of a reputation as being immature after he made a controversial tweet following Emma's WWE release. But he says that Lashley has helped him adjust to the WWE locker room and to grow as a Superstar.
"Bobby Lashley has been a huge help as far as making me feel welcomed and comfortable in the locker room and with the company in general," stated Rush. "Helping me with learning the business inside and outside the ring, especially coming from the independent circuit and working out for guys that are in for themselves because everybody is trying to get signed. So, people are trying to go out there and do what will favor them the most so you don't really get to have that interaction with people backstage asking for advice. You do, but it is from an ex-WWE Superstar, so it is very rare so coming from the independent circuit and then working with the 205 Live guys and being shot up straight to the main roster on Raw and working with Bobby Lashley; someone who has been at this for so long and been a top guy for so long and is hungry and passionate, it is pretty cool."
Pro wrestling, and especially WWE, is the land of giants so Rush's stature doesn't fit the bill of what the promotion normally looks for in its Superstars. But being an underdog and being counted out due to his size is nothing new for Rush and he says that's the motivation for the Napoleon Complex that some think he has.
"That has been literally the story of my life," Rush said of his size. "Ever since I started wrestling professionally and on the independent scene, I have always had to stick up for myself. I am such a passionate person about what I am doing and what I believe in and I have always been so outspoken and having to stick up for myself. In a sense I almost have to. I am 22 years old, well, 24 now, but that is such a sensitive topic for me because I feel like me being the person that I am and how I carry myself and the way that I think it has definitely lead to people thinking that I am arrogant or cocky.
"But I feel like I have to be this way or I will just be ran over and stepped on, not only for my age, but because I am shorter than people which is a real thing. Also, being a young African-American male I am always going to be fighting an uphill battle so I always kind of have to have that chip on my shoulder like, hey, I know that I am shorter than you but I am a grown man so you have to take me seriously."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.