Newly-signed AEW Star Lio Rush recently appeared on the “Excuse Me: The Vickie Guerrero Show” podcast and spoke about his AEW debut at Double Or Nothing, if his announcement to AEW President and CEO Tony Khan was true that he was retiring and how he struggled with retiring or signing a contract.
Below are the highlights:
On his AEW debut at Double Or Nothing:
“The opportunity alone was amazing. I was at a point in my career where I was looking for an opportunity. I was looking for the right platform that showcased what I can do. It was amazing that Tony Khan reached out to me and wanted me to be the surprise Joker because I don’t think a lot of people were expecting me to be the Joker at all. It was cool. I was nervous in ways I haven’t been nervous in so long. I had no idea what people would think. I had no idea if people would be excited or disappointed. I know there were a lot of names being thrown around with all the WWE releases. I was shaking in my boots a little bit until my music hit which I made myself which is even crazier. It was an exciting moment for me.”
On if his announcement to AEW President and CEO Tony Khan was true that he was retiring:
“Yeh. That is 100% true. It was such a real moment that never in a million years that I thought I was going to be in that position. I went into that night with the intention of having a good match, coming out of that match, and hopefully getting some praise from Tony Khan, and him wanting to sign me, and that was the case regardless of what happened in the match. When I came back in gorilla, he offered me a deal right there. Of course, he let me have some time to think on it with the terms and all that, but he did offer me a deal that night. It was incredible. I didn’t know exactly what happened to me in the match. I just knew that there was something really wrong. I was freaking out. It’s crazy because this kind of the first time I’m kind of talking about this. I had a lot of time to think about it, but I ended up separating my AC during the match. It wasn’t at the beginning of the match. It was at mid point, so when it happened, I was still wrestling. I was still doing my thing in the match. It wasn’t until I got eliminated. I already knew I was going to lay there and soak in the moment, try to be there, and realize what I just did. I did that, but when I tried to get up, my arm wasn’t moving at all. It was like something was broken from whatever happened to my brain to my arm, it was such a crazy feeling that I will never forget. I was an athlete my entire life. I’ve had injuries before. I’ve broken bones. My pain tolerance is pretty high. But it was such a weird thing not being able to get up. I remember calling somebody to me and said that I couldn’t move my arm. They helped me get up and walked me to the back. That’s when I was actually talking to Tony. Nothing physically happened in the match that would have made you think that I would have gotten hurt. I was trying to focus on Tony. I wasn’t even telling him about my arm. I thought I was going to put some ice on it, I was going to be fine, and that was going to be it. I thought I just hurt my arm a little bit. When I went to the trainer’s room, they were doing some tests on me, I literally couldn’t lift my arm, and they said I needed to get an MRI. I waited, flew back to L.A. and got the MRI. They showed me the X-Ray and MRI. They showed me the separation and the possibility that I might need to get surgery. All of that going through my head, I’m like, man, ‘I might have to get surgery? I just debuted on AEW’ It was such a real thing that I didn’t think was going to happen. It was a lot to deal with at that moment.”
On how he struggled with retiring or signing a contract:
“During that time of me debuting in AEW, at the time, my wrestling career viewed by the casual fan or anybody following my career was up and up. I was all over the country with independent promotions. I was with New Japan. I just finished up with MLW and AAA. It was a lot, but I was also going through a lot of personal things during that time too. A big part of that was financial because it was a huge hit that me and my family took with me being released from WWE. Trying to find consistent work without being under contract, I have kids, I’m married, I was having a baby, my wife was pregnant, there were a lot of things going through my mind. Me being me and just believing in myself so much, I’ve also been doing music for some time now. It was me taken aback on me moving in a direction that I thought I was capable of moving in the music industry and letting that be a source of income while also allowing me the time to be with my family, be with my wife, be with my newborn. For me, I never really got that opportunity to be the dad that I always wanted to be because I got pushed into the wrestling world pretty quickly. That was around the time I had my first son. Then when I had my second son, I was with WWE, so I definitely wasn’t home enough that I wanted to be. With being released from WWE and having to work during the pandemic, I now had to work twice as hard, twice as much to try to make up for the money that I need to make for me and my family, so I definitely wasn’t home. It was a lot. I saw where my life was going and I didn’t want it to be like that. It was a hard choice between signing a contract with AEW along with the frustrations that I’ve had from the wrestling business in general. It was a lot of everything. It was a lot of me kind of giving it up. It was a lot of me believing in myself with other ventures that I had in mind. It was a lot of me putting my family first. It was a lot of being selfish. It was a lot I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting to think this way in that short amount of time. I had to think about a lot. It was such a split decision. It was a decision that if I would have taken that contract during that time in my life, I feel like it would have affected me and my family a lot. It came down to, do I want to try and work on being the family man that I want to be and saving my family relationship and stuff like that, or do I hurt my personal life even more and take this contract, but it might work out in the end financially, but by the time it works out financially, what does the personal life look like? There was a lot weighing on me so I decided to walk away. I decided to not take the contract. I’ve decided to do things on my time and my way, and hopefully have that work out. During that time, I’ve found out a lot about myself. I learned a lot about myself. I started to get a grasp of how much of an influence that I’ve had on the wrestling world in a way that I just didn’t realize. Starting off at 18 years old and just being so focused and I need to move forward. I’ve never really had that time to sit down and think about anything. I think this injury forced me to sit down, forced me to think, and forced me to stop and figure out where I want to go, what I want to try to do, and who I’m doing it for. There’s a bigger picture here than just wrestling and that’s why I’m back.”