Over the last few days, there have been a variety of stories posted about Lio Rush and his apparent backstage heat in WWE. Accounts of him blowing off veterans and their advice, shirking duties that are normally done by rookies to show respect to the business, bragging about being a bigger star than he really is and bringing family and friends backstage without the proper credentials, have all been listed as reasons he’s not got a ton of friends in the locker room these days. The same issues are speculated as the cause of him being pulled off the road and off WWE programming.
On the other hand, there are also reports he’s simply taking a stand. Like many stars, perhaps Rush isn’t being paid enough. He’s said he’s traveling at his own expense, not being paid for merchandise that have his catchphrases on them, being told to stay away from meet and greets that should be he and Bobby Lashley and being a young black man asked to carry around another wrestler’s bags when they hop off a bus is a bad look these days. He may have a point.
Depending on who you ask, this is a situation that isn’t even close to black and white. Rush admits he stands up for what he believes in and isn’t shy about voicing his opinion. He also says this isn’t about race, working with Bobby Lashley, or even a rumored beef with Finn Balor. This is about a misunderstanding and someone backstage trying to spread false rumors and see him get fired.
Of course, there was also a report Rush turned down a new deal and told WWE to let him out of his contract so he could prove his value outside their walls. It’s hard to know what to believe.
While all this is happening, the question becomes, ‘True or not, is the damage being done here irreparable?”
Shades of Enzo Amore
This whole situation is starting to feel an awful lot like how things felt as Enzo was building a fairly negative reputation for himself. Enzo was rumored to be kicked off a bus, but then spoke to Corey Graves and said, “How’s that going to happen when WWE has to get me from Point A to Point B?” He didn’t deny that he was disliked or removed from the bus, but he rephrased the question.
There were rumors Enzo wasn’t allowed to share a locker room with the other guys, that he was alienated and disrespected, but also that most of that was due to his own behavior.
Today, Enzo is gone from WWE and often labeled one of the most despised people in wrestling. He’s seen as a man with no integrity, zero respect for the business and someone who believes he’s better than the company who was employing him. He’s still out there, he’s still making some money but the chances he ever really bounces back as a big name in wrestling is slim to none.
The latest rumors are that Enzo is so disliked, a Ring of Honor angle was squashed because of the negative reaction fans and the locker room had to he and Big Cass showing up at one of their big shows just over a month ago.
The Other Wrestlers
Mark Henry said he likes Rush but doesn’t agree with what’s going on here. If Rush is complaining that he’s walking around broke, maybe he needs to take some responsibility for how he’s spending his money. If he’s got an issue with doing things all rookies do, maybe he should rethink the business he’s in and the way things have worked for years.
Chris Jericho echoed some of that sentiment when he said in response to a Twitter user saying WWE was asking Rush to do things he shouldn’t have to do:
Key statement there is “if I was a big Star in the WWE”. You’re not, so u don’t know the respect and dedication you need to make it in WWE. I never once “made” a young guy carry my bags. But I was shown respect every day. To disrespect the vets in any way is taboo in our biz.
Chances are, Rush isn’t going to get much sympathy from most of his fellow wrestlers. Enzo didn’t either. They’ve all been asked to do this at some point and they expect Rush to take his lumps and grow from it. These guys don’t like what can be perceived as big egos, they don’t like the bucking of tradition and they don’t expect WWE to grant Rush any special favors, regardless of who might be out to get him or the color of his skin.
It might be wrong, it might be outdated but that’s probably their way of thinking.
The WWE Fan Base
The WWE Universe is polarized on the issue. Some believe that Rush is well within his right to stand up for what he believes and not take any sh-t from anyone. They believe more wrestlers and performers should be like him. If they were, maybe this whole John Oliver idea of independent contractors going broke wouldn’t be a thing because guys like Rush changed the industry.
Others see Rush as a troublemaker. They look back at his comments when Emma was fired, watch as he turns down multi-year deals at $300K per year and says, ‘How can you be broke? You’re just being selfish.’
I’m making a comparison to Enzo, but a similar one can be made to Sasha Banks who is going through her own drama with WWE.
To each their own and everyone is entitled to take a side on the issue.
I don’t know enough to agree with Rush or disagree. All I know is, the longer this goes on, the more and more Rush can’t win here. And, before you know it, fans will see him as the Enzo Amore of 2019. Potentially, the only real difference here is that race may or may not be a factor now. That too is a shame.
Am I suggesting Rush just do what he doesn’t believe in? No. If he really feels that strongly about his right to being respected, good for him. But, if he feels like he’s entitled to special treatment, I’m of the belief that no matter how talented he thinks he is, he hasn’t earned it yet.
Before it’s too late, he should really make sure he’s ready to die on the hill he’s chosen to take a stand on.