Lio Rush was ready to move on from WWE well before his April 2020 release.
Rush was taken off WWE Raw after WWE WrestleMania 35, and didn't return for months. He was sent home where he worked on various other projects. During his extended period away, he tells Fightful he outright didn't hear from WWE at all while he was at home.
"Yeah, they didn’t say anything," Rush clarified. "They didn’t say a single thing to me about it. Actually during that entire time period of me away from the company I didn’t hear a single thing. I was told to sit back for a few and Vince was gonna get back to me soon. It ended up being seven months. I had moved on. I accepted the situation for what it was. I moved on with my life. I was actually in California looking at property. Me and my family were going to move to California. I’ll never forget it, I was in California and I ended up getting a phone call from Hunter [Hearst Helmsley]."
Lio hadn't wrestled in six months, with many wondering if he'd ever return to the company. As it turns out, his brief run on WWE Raw played to his advantage, and Triple H saw it as an opportunity to bring back an undeniable talent to the NXT brand. Lio Rush recalled the conversation he had with Triple H that led to the return to NXT.
"He asked how I was doing, asked how my family was doing and he got me up to speed on the new relationship that NXT has with USA Network and that we’re going to rebrand and relaunch NXT and they thought I that would be a good fit for it because I already kinda had that USA Network exposure from Monday Night RAW. So, he wanted me to be a part of NXT. Then we just started having some conversations. It wasn’t like a done deal right away. Of course, there some things needed to be talked about that I didn’t agree with or certain things that I needed in order to move forward. Because, like I said, I was planning out my life for seven months. I didn’t hear anything from anybody, so I’m thinking that this is it. I need to move on. I need to do something else. Once he said that [I] just ended up staying in Orlando a good, less than 20 minute drive every day to work. So, can’t be mad at that. That’s pretty much it. I didn’t hear anything from them," said Rush.
Lio would go on to become NXT Cruiserweight Champion, helping elevate the title to appointment viewing on NXT programming.
Lio also opened up about his future, his music career, and much more in the exclusive interview with Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp which you can view above. We'll have much more from this interview over the next couple of weeks. Make sure to check out Lio's music and other upcoming projects at his website.