After a months-long absence and widespread rumors of backstage heat with WWE officials, Lio Rush is officially back. However, it looks like he won’t be showing up anytime soon on Monday Night Raw or SmackDown, as the former “hype man” for Raw superstar Bobby Lashley was reintroduced to fans as NXT held its first-ever episode as a live show after years of pre-taped offerings.
As reported by Cageside Seats, Rush’s match on Wednesday was part of NXT‘s live premiere, although his match against Oney Lorcan was included in the portion for WWE Network subscribers. Interestingly, NXT announcer Mauro Ranallo seemed to make references to Rush’s previous revelations of mental health issues – as well as his recently released hip-hop track – when he discussed his return to the ring and talked about why he had been gone for so long.
Wednesday’s contest between Rush and Lorcan was, as further explained, a match to determine the next No. 1 contender for Drew Gulak’s Cruiserweight Championship, just days after Gulak retained his title against Lorcan at Clash of Champions. Contrary to his portrayal as a heel on Raw, Rush was seemingly booked as an underdog babyface as he went on to defeat Lorcan for a chance to fight for the Cruiserweight Championship in the near future.
As further noted by Cageside Seats, the presence of a cruiserweight No. 1 contender match on Wednesday night’s NXT live premiere appears to back up previous comments made by Triple H, as the WWE executive and part-time wrestler dropped hints earlier this month about the cruiserweight division falling under the NXT umbrella. It remains to be seen, however, when Rush will get his chance to face Gulak for the Cruiserweight Championship.
After a promising main roster debut, Rush stopped appearing on Monday Night Raw in April as rumors swirled about his alleged issues with multiple WWE wrestlers and officials. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Rush supposedly rubbed many colleagues the wrong way for — among other reasons — loudly proclaiming that he should be treated as a “top guy” in the company. Not long after, he was also accused by WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry of lying to his face when he was confronted about the then-recent backstage heat rumors.
During his time away from WWE, Rush focused on his burgeoning hip-hop career, releasing the song “Scenic Lullaby” in August and sitting down with Sports Illustrated to discuss his life as a wrestler and musician. In this interview, Rush admitted that he was in a “suicidal state” as a teenager and was hospitalized briefly due to his mental health issues, but has since done what he could “keep pushing forward” in life.