Since being released by WWE as part of their April coronavirus budget cuts, Lio Rush has been discussing his future on social media and in interviews. His new hip-hop album dropped on May 11, and he’s been thinking out loud about if his wrestling days are over.
Talking about his wrestling career led Rush to revisit the issues he had during his WWE run. The now 25 year old was sidelined for several months in 2019 after reports of backstage heat surfaced in April of that year. Lio revealed the issues largely stemmed from his bristling against wrestling’s unwritten rules whereby younger talents cater to veterans, especially while he was traveling with the main roster while on an entry-level contract.
WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry was one of the most prominent voices to address Rush’s issues. He did so from his position as one of the hosts of Sirius XM’s Busted Open, claiming he tried to counsel Lio personally, and insinuating the younger wrestler was letting his ego get in his way and had his financial priorities in the wrong order.
Last week, their issues came to a head again after Rush tweeted about Henry’s comments from a year ago.
Woke up remembering the time Mark Henry said I lied to him to his face & then continued to bury me on his podcast while telling me i need to learn how to spend my money better. Shit was crazy. Sorry man, i didn’t mean to have a wife and two kids on top of other responsibilities.— Ever After OUT NOW! (@itsLioRush) May 14, 2020
A back-and-forth followed where Rush claimed he tried to call in to Busted Open to discuss the situation, but was unable to because the provided number didn’t work. Their Thurs., May 14 exchange ended with these:
Sorry guys, but I’ve been holding my breathe for way too long. People like this need to get called out. It’s sickening, it’s disappointing and extremely discouraging. I love my fans and i pray that one day in the future the state of this kind of matter progresses.— Ever After OUT NOW! (@itsLioRush) May 14, 2020
And this is why African American talent on the biggest platform will continue to not have equal opportunity because people like you constantly tear your own people down. A damn shame honestly.— Ever After OUT NOW! (@itsLioRush) May 14, 2020
Yesterday (May 17), TMZ Sports posted an interview with Henry where, among other things, said that last tweet has him considering a lawsuit against Rush.
“If you go down to the performance center at NXT, probably 25 I think, people of color in the facility, probably about 80 plus percent of them I helped get them there. I mean, it’s completely opposite.
“And, you can’t question my blackness. Like nobody can question my blackness, pull my black card. No, not allowed. Nobody.
“My lawyer went to Harvard. I don’t know what kinda lawyers he’s dealing with, but I got those Ivy League people around me, and they’re pissed!”
The World’s Strongest Man also says that if Rush had reached out privately, he would have worked with him to turn their beef into an angle. He believes Lio only brought the issue up again now in order get publicity for his new album.
After TMZ’s story went up (which Rush says he was never contacted about), the following - and as of this writing final - exchange occurred.
Couldn’t i just do the same for publicly de framing my name on national radio? @TheMarkHenry come on man, your going out sad. You deserve to be remembered for the greatest heel turn ever, not for threatening to sue a 25 yr old in the middle of a pandemic.— Ever After OUT NOW! (@itsLioRush) May 17, 2020
You probably mean(Defame)you have done that to yourself. Just own it and move on. This is the last time we communicate unless it’s for a apology. And by the way you’re welcome for me asking the company not to fire you a year ago. Tell your fans!@TheMarkHenry https://t.co/iPbuuP9U6T— TheMarkHenry (@TheMarkHenry) May 17, 2020
That god damn auto correct. Silly me. Listen MARK.... you went on your “Worldwide” podcast with your 1.3 million followers and called me a liar DEFAMING my name. It’s clear that your chasing clout hear. You told on yourself in that TMZ video. This is sad. Real sad. BIG SAD. https://t.co/1GIQmtybfV— Ever After OUT NOW! (@itsLioRush) May 17, 2020
And by the way @TheMarkHenry , if you saved my job back then, THANKS. You were my first wrestling toy back in the day. Luckily it didn’t talk.— Ever After OUT NOW! (@itsLioRush) May 17, 2020
One more thing if you don’t mind @TheMarkHenry , good for you for getting that 80% hired. I wasn’t one of them though, so i owe you NOTHING. You weren’t signing my checks, nor did I work for you. I DONT EVEN KNOW YOU. Stop being weird. I was taught not to talk to strangers.— Ever After OUT NOW! (@itsLioRush) May 17, 2020
There are some interesting and important issues at the core of this about wrestling culture and race and generational differences in perception of similar experiences. It seems doubtful those will be addressed in any meaningful way as long as this remains a Twitter and potentially courtroom beef instead of an actual dialogue, though.
We shall see.