In the 205 Live episode of January 24th, Lio Rush was defeated by Tony Nese by count-out. In the 205 Live episode of February 7th, Rush participated in an untitled Triple Threat match which also included the NXT Cruiserweight Champion Jordan Devlin and Tony Nese but the match was won by the champion.
In the NXT episode of February 12nd, Rush defeated Angel Garza, becoming the new No. 1 contender for Jordan Devlin's NXT Cruiserweight Championship. In the February 19th NXT episode, Rush faced Jordan Devlin for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship but was defeated.
In the episode of 205 Live on February 28th, Rush defeated Tony Nese by disqualification due to the intervention of Mike Kanellis. Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated praised Rush's ring work saying, he was "highly talented in the ring" and delivered "a combination of athleticism and flexibility few others possess."
During his early days in WWE, Rush became a heel manager for Bobby Lashley, a role he was praised for due to his promos. In a long interview with Sports Illustrated, he commented on beating Drew Gulak for the Cruiserweight title: “That moment was pretty special.
My first run in NXT was so short, I only had a few matches. Some people were surprised I am a wrestler after they were only used to seeing me beside Bobby Lashley as a manager on Monday Night Raw. People know I can talk on the mic, but I want to show the world I can do it all.
It’s special to be back wrestling, and I want to show I am one of the best wrestlers in the world”. Rush also talked about his music video: “This music video is my escape, it’s me escaping. People will hold you down in life if you let them.
I’m passionate, I care, I’m outspoken. There are a lot of people who feel the same way, but not a lot are willing to speak up. I don’t want to steal CM Punk’s catchphrase, but I am willing to stand up and be a voice for the voiceless. I speak up when I feel like something is wrong”.