‘The Challenge 36’: Lio Rush Clarifies Why He Chose To Leave the Competition

Professional wrestler Lio Rush debuted on The Challenge 36 but left following a few episodes because he found the living situations “triggering” for his mental health. Rush clarified his decision a couple of times after the episode.

Lio Rush (L) and Wale attend Wale's 5th Annual WaleMania
Lio Rush (L) and Wale attend Wale’s 5th Annual WaleMania | Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Lio Rush previously wrestled for the WWE

Born Lionel Gerard Green in Maryland, the 26-year-old noted he knew he wanted to become a professional wrestler from the age of five. In 2014, at 20-years-old, he debuted in the independent circuit as “LI Green,” before changing it to “Lennon Duffy.”

He also appeared in Combat Zone Wrestling for three years, where he settled on Lio Rush and decided to become a heel or villain. The wrestler debuted in Ring of Honor in 2016 before joining the WWE in 2018, where he won several consecutive matches.

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Following Apr. 15 Raw (2019), Rush took a break due to mental health he’s struggled with since a child. However, the company released him from his contract due to budget cuts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since leaving the WWE, Rush has wrestled with NXT, returned to the independent circuit, and began releasing music.

Rush competed in ‘The Challenge 36’

During the premiere episode, the competitors immediately faced off, separated by gender, in their first daily challenge.

Aneesa Ferreira clocked the fastest time, giving her the power to select any partner unilaterally. She picked a reluctant Fessy Shafaat, leaving the rest of the players to team up.

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After the dust settled, Rush ended up paired with UK rookie Gabby Allen. Due to their smaller stature and rookie status, a few other players secretly voted them into elimination, believing they would serve as a layup to get their gold skull.

Additionally, some of the other competitors threw their vote on them because they wanted to maintain good relationships in the house. However, they managed to avoid landing in elimination.

Rush clarifies why he left the competition

At the beginning of the Jan. 20 episode, the wrestler admitted living in the house “triggered” him because he previously stayed in a group home. Therefore, waking up next to unfamiliar faces in the Challenge house made him experience the same feelings he felt as a teenager.

Rush also had a pregnant wife at home and thought his leaving served his family best. Even though host T.J. Lavin usually hates when competitors quit, he applauded the wrestler for putting his mental health first. Following the episode, Rush further clarified his decision to leave on social media.

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He explained MTV approached him with the opportunity to compete for the million-dollar prize and was “excited,” especially since WWE let him go only a few weeks prior. Therefore, quitting wasn’t easy for him. However, he noted he didn’t realize how “vulnerable” he was until living in the house and is thankful the experience allowed him to open up about his past.

Rush also spoke on his decision to leave during the official aftershow, noting he “let the game get to me” but wants to return and prove himself. The Challenge 36 airs Wednesdays at 8/7 Central on MTV.