Lio Rush seemed really optimistic about his future, whether or not that involved pro wrestling. His music career is doing well and he just released an album, which he doesn't think would have occurred if not for that extended time off in 2019. He was preparing himself to be let go from the company during that time, and was very surprised when Triple H called him to return to NXT. With his previous exposure on the USA Network, Triple H felt like Lio would be a good fit for NXT for what they were doing. Lio noted there were some things that he didn't necessarily agree with that they worked out ahead of time. He hadn't heard from WWE whatsoever during his time away from the company.
Vince McMahon was responsible for bringing Lio Rush up to Raw. Lio says that he got absolutely no feedback on the promos, skits or music he was releasing on Youtube, and didn't ask permission before doing so. However, Vince McMahon saw some of his early promos online and decided that he wanted to put Lio and Lashley together. Lio had no clue what he'd be doing on Raw until he showed up and Bobby Lashley clued him in on it. A dejected Lio recalled showing some of those promos to a coach/producer in NXT, and the producer lied about watching it while he was on his phone the entire time.
He doesn't see himself as arrogant or cocky, instead as confident. He thinks that the way he was brought up, he had to be confident in order to make it. The same for wrestling. Lio believes he's confident because he's proven he can adapt to situations. He claims that Bobby Lashley is the only person he spoke to about that, although Dash Wilder (Cash Wheeler) let it be known that there was a little bit of an issue. Since then, he says the two developed a professional courtesy and rivalry a bit.
He said that WWE didn't ask him to cut his hair, he did it to differentiate himself from his indie run. His hair was starting to fall out anyway.
Johnny Swinger has a wealth of knowledge, and experience in WWF/E, NWA/TNA, ECW, WCW, and many other places. We spoke about the IMPACT tapings requiring a much bigger setup and preparation than anyone would ever realize, and said that he's never seen a hiccup working for IMPACT over the past several months. We talked about ECW's influence and working on a budget, which was a culture shock after WCW. He says the cutaways that you see when an error happens is something that Heyman and ECW used to do a lot back in the day, that he sees done now.
He's very thankful to be back on the national scene after 13 years, and he has a lot of faith in Scott D'Amore and thinks he knows how to use Johnny Swinger better than anyone. He actually made it clear almost a year ago he wanted to return to IMPACT Wrestling, and doesn't know how to get in touch with anyone in WWE. He's interested in possibly getting involved in agenting when his career is over, but has dabbled in it on the independent circuit.
Gronk, WWE, Vince
In another update on the Gronkowski dive that Vince McMahon had to do to prove to him it was safe, it didn't end there. We're told even after that, Gronkowski required more goading. Ultimately, the delay put WrestleMania 36 filming hours behind schedule. We spoke to multiple people involved since the story dropped that weren't happy with the delays that were caused.
WWE has been much more relaxed in recent years as it pertains to social media. We've seen tons of wrestlers and producers start and continue their podcasts and shows, and even contracted wrestlers contacting us personally for interviews. WWE talent have also told us the company has a very relaxed policy for Cameo, CelebVM and the like, and they never seem to get any heat for doing those, interviews, or projects on their own. Bruce Prichard, Curt Hawkins, Zack Ryder, EC3, Braun Strowman, Drake Maverick, Shane Helms and tons of others had shows of their own while with WWE.
During our interview with Lio Rush, he said that WWE never contacted him about his music, promos or anything he put on Youtube -- except for one skit. It featured he and Noam Dar at urinals and Lio leaning over and laughing at Dar. Outside of that, he mentioned that he had complete creative freedom over that.
Roman Reigns Update
Fightful spoke to a source high up in WWE who told us that Roman Reigns "does not seem in any rush to return, and nobody here faults him for it." The person would note that right now no indication if or when a return could happen has been given, saying he could head back in two weeks, two months, or be out indefinitely. Reigns is not figured into plans creatively at this point.
Another person in WWE we spoke to said "Roman is going to make over a thousand dollars on Cameo every day, so even if they stopped paying him, it wouldn't matter." We've not been given any indication that Reigns has been pressured to return, and several high up in the company were not told as to why he was edited out of the Seth Rollins cash-in video package that aired recently. " I have no idea. I can see it as "yes (you should read more into it)" and I can see it as "the point was Rollins and Drew are on similar paths." I really don't know," one source said. Another said it was an "out of sight, out of mind," situation.
As we mentioned on Fightful Select weeks ago, the former Revival team were not to be named "The Revolt" or "Fear the Revolt," instead, being known as FTR with various acronyms for the team. As for the claims that Caleb Konley and Zane Riley in the cease and desist tried to reach out to Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler to no avail, Fightful can confirm that contact was made as far back as April 21, where it was indicated that "FTR" would be the name used, not "The Revolt"
Fightful has learned since the release of Drew Gulak, that there were rumors among backstage talent that Gulak's deal was coming due soon, and he'd yet to re-sign with the company. Several in the talent pool had known about Gulak's departure as of Saturday morning, so the tweets he'd sent to Daniel Bryan were after it was known internally and personally that he was gone. The two sides were apparently too far apart on money and the deal ended up lapsing. He is not subject to a non-compete, and we've been told "the door is open."