Lio Rush Shared His Original Complaint Letter About Hostile Conditions At WWE

Last year, Lio Rush was the subject of a whole slew of rumors about having heat backstage in WWE for complaining and being “disrespectful” to veterans. This was when he was taken off TV after a well-received run as Bobby Lashley’s manager. After than he returned to NXT for a run as Cruiserweight Champion last fall, and he stopped appearing in March of this year, making clear that he didn’t want to wrestle during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After all that, nobody was particularly surprised when he was one of the many WWE Superstars released from the company in April. Naturally that left him even more free to speak his mind. For one thing, Lio has made it clear that he doesn’t care for the NXT storyline about Drake Maverick, who was also released in April, earning his job back. And as of today, Lio has brought even more of his own problems with the company to light. On his social media, he posted screenshots of an email, with the names removed, that he wrote to WWE management about what he calls a “hostile work environment” in WWE.

Here’s the full text, including Lio’s introduction and the text of the email:

For too long now I’ve dealt with a lot of bad publicity, rumours and stories on the internet that attack, not just me as a wrestler, but attack my integrity. The attacks on my character have gone on too long without my side being heard.
With everything going on in the world and a lot of social issues being brought to the forefront, I have to empower others by empowering myself. How can we expect change without sharing the experiences that illustrate the insensitivities that divide us?

Please be clear, I am in no way insinuating that the WWE is a racist company, nor am I commenting on the racial attitudes of any of the companies individuals. However, this email shows that I expressed concerns of racial insensitivity and my feelings as a young African American male to the WWE office during the incidents that have brought so much negativity to my name.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter – Martin Luther King

Dear [redacted]

The situation started with a fairly mellow conversation with [redacted] after a bus ride he pulled me to the side and explained how it’s expected as a gesture of respect for the new wrestlers to offer beers and drinks to the guys who’ve been here longer and ask that I also help carry coolers off the bus.

I didn’t think much of this until another conversation was brought to me by one of the [redacted] who re enforced what [redacted] had said and advised me that it was in my best interest to comply as well as telling me that new wrestlers are expected to help carry the older guys bags off from underneath the bus.

The situation took a more negative turn when [redacted] approached me about the same subject during my personal time, and added the warning that other wrestlers are talking negatively behind my back because of my unwillingness to hand out alcohol and carry other wrestlers bags.

The situation drastically escalated at the bologna live event 20 mins before I was scheduled to perform. Once again, [redacted] pulled me to the side in gorilla telling me that other wrestlers are continuing to talk negatively about me and advised that I comply with the demands of the other wrestlers. Further more he told me that a female wrestler had a accused my fiancé of entering the female locker room.

The negative gossip surrounding my name has escalated to out right lies in order to damage my professional reputation. At no point did my fiancé enter the female locker room or any locker room for that matter. WWE security were witness to myself and my fiancé waiting in the stands pre show for 4 hours.

As for the continued harassment to serve other wrestlers with beer and to carry their luggage, I fundamentally disagree with this type of hazing. It is not within my job description or contract to perform duties of this kind. I would like it to be noted that I don’t consider myself above any particular type of task, when breaking down rings was a part of my duties, I performed all duties happy and professionally. However what I am being told to do here is degrading and unprofessional. I don’t believe that any of us are above or below each other, no would should be asked to serve another person or carry their belongings, but I feel very strongly about his matter being a young African American male. I find these demands to be racially insensitive.

I feel that my non compliance has resulted in a escalating harassment that I find to be unacceptable.

I would like to discuss this matter with you in person as soon as possible.

I appreciate your time.

Some might disagree, but I would argue that if WWE wants to be considered a legitimate entertainment company, rather than an old-fashioned brotherhood of carnies, there’s no place for the kind of “frat rush” behavior that Lio describes. And he’s not wrong that it’s a particularly weird look for white wrestlers, regardless of their seniority, to treat a young black coworker like a caddie.

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