Former WWE Superstar Lio Rush Is Up to MTV's 'The Challenge: Double Agents'
One door closed for Lio Rush when he was released from WWE in April, but another opened days later. It was MTV, approaching the pro wrestler about joining The Challenge: Double Agents, which premieres December 9.
Rush, real name Lionel Green, was among the 30 veterans and rookies who ventured to frigid Iceland for the physically and mentally demanding game, with $ 1 million hanging in the balance. Here, the 26-year-old talks about the experience, as well as how he's continuing his career in the ring.
What did you know about The Challenge going in?
Lio Rush: I watched prior seasons. I used to watch with my sisters and parents when I was younger. I also knew there were wrestlers who were part of the show, like The Miz and CM Punk. This wasn’t the first time these two worlds have met.
How did your background help you in the competition?
The physicality of the game definitely helped. Being a smaller guy, you don’t look at me and say, “Well, he's a threat.” I’m so used to picking up and throwing guys who are 200 or 300 pounds. Mentally, the overall WWE experience drains you mentally — that helped from the psychology standpoint. The brain has been conditioned to handle stressful situations.
Being a “Rookie,” how do you feel the veterans looked at you?
People who currently watch wrestling I think know I can be a potential threat. [Given I'm] 5-foot-six and 160 pounds, if you have a person who brings up wrestling and thinks of Hulk Hogan or The Rock, they'll underestimate me for sure.
So Iceland can be unforgivingly cold. How'd that go?
The weather was kind of hell, especially living in Orlando for the past four or five years. That was the first time I had seen snow like that. But not only was it a beautiful scene, but just being in Iceland felt like a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I was just blown away to be there.
In the trailer you punch the wall in frustration. Was the game harder than you anticipated?
I typically do things that are hard. It was frustrating, though. Especially the amount of different personalities.
Is there anyone you leaned on for support?
I feel like each and every person had a very unique story, certain things that may have been traumatizing in their lives. I’m a very empathetic person and gelled with a lot of people because I think we all got very discouraged at some point, or depressed or frustrated. At the end of the day, we were all we had. I feel everyone was each other’s support system.
Major League Wrestling has been promoting your upcoming debut. What is it about MLW that made you want to join the promotion?
I always thought MLW was the dark horse in the wrestling business. You saw them. You knew they existed. You knew it was successful, but it felt like a special group where only special people could be a part of it. That they weren’t just bringing in everyone. When I saw that they were doing a restart, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to put my name back out there in the wrestling world. There are some pretty cool people behind the scenes. I know [rapper and collaborator] Wale has a huge hand in everything. We had a mutual friend with Wale. I also loved the product and what I saw. I had a couple of buddies that currently wrestle for them. I thought it would be a really cool fit.
Would you do The Challenge again?
This is an emotional season, especially with what's happening in the world right now. It’s been a rough year for everyone. When I first got back home to my family and came down from the high I said to myself, “There is no way I can do this again.” It was nuts. But looking back on it now, I would definitely do it again. One-hundred percent.
The Challenge: Double Agents premieres December 9, 8/7c, MTV