In 2019, Lio Rush was a featured superstar on WWE Raw as the manager of Bobby Lashley. But after WrestleMania 35, Rush was off television until September.
During his time away, reports circulated that Rush had backstage heat over his attitude and allegedly disrespecting veterans. One report stated Rush refused to "pay his dues" so to speak by providing water to veterans on a European tour.
Rush spoke to Fightful in May 2019 and said, "It’s not about race and it has never been, but public perception is important to me and when we have fans that travel all over the globe and watch us get off of buses and into hotels, the LOOK of a black kid carrying waters and bags for other wrestlers is just not a good look, especially when I’m trying to portray myself as a superstar as well."
On Friday, he offered more insight into the issues from last year and shared an email he sent to WWE outlining his concerns and the way he had been treated.
For too long now I’ve dealt with a lot of bad publicity, rumours and stories on the internet that attack, not just me as a wrestler, but attack my integrity. The attacks on my character have gone on too long without my side being heard. With everything going on in the world and a lot of social issues being brought to the forefront, I have to empower others by empowering myself. How can we expect change without sharing the experiences that illustrate the insensitivities that divide us? Please be clear, I am in no way insinuating that the WWE is a racist company, nor am I commenting on the racial attitudes of any of the companies individuals. However, this email shows that I expressed concerns of racial insensitivity and my feelings as a young African American male to the WWE office during the incidents that have brought so much negativity to my name. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter - Martin Luther King
It was reported at the time that Finn Balor was one of the superstars Lio had heat with, but he denied that to Fightful in last year's interview, saying, "Me and Finn are cool, and my wife has never been an issue. There is someone who works for WWE who has hated me since the day I’ve worked for ROH and now that they work for WWE they’re leaking false information to get me released. At a certain point, I have to defend myself so that’s what I decided to do. We’re all human, and we’re all grown ass adults. The kind of shit the flies backstage is ridiculous and I’m surprised more people aren’t speaking up."
Lio has not revealed any names in the matter. He was released on April 15 as part of the company-wide cutbacks due to the coronavirus.
Vince McMahon reportedly sent an email to WWE staff this past week that addressed diversity. The email reportedly including a specific email address for anyone who works for the company to directly address diversity concerns and bring them to the company's attention.