With every passing episode of SmackDown, with every WWE Premium Live Event, the crowd reactions that greet even the merest mention of LA Knight’s name generate enough energy to power a decent sized island for a year.
Which makes it all the more incredible that the man who can make entire arenas bark out his name, syllable by syllable, with just three points of his right index finger, was almost reduced to a lower card managerial role just last year.
Despite not having a major one-on-one programme to speak of since his ill fated feud with Bray Wyatt in the new year, LA Knight has not only gained momentum, he has seen it snowball into a seemingly unstoppable boulder, one of the size usually reserved for pursuing Indiana Jones, hurtling towards the rest of WWE’s main event scene, dwarfing everybody else’s crowd reactions in its path.
It is vindication for a superstar who was almost completely lost to baffling booking. His WWE career rescued from the jaws of lower-mid card mouthpiece and elevated to potential main event superstardom.
And while the defining main event moment is yet to arrive for LA Knight, there was an acknowledgement of his undeniable popularity from WWE’s Chief Content Officer Triple H during Money In The Bank weekend in London, recently.
The Trigger Is Waiting To Be Pulled On LA Knight
But while Knight may have come up short in his efforts to become Mr. Money In The Bank, if the crowd reactions persist, Triple H isn’t going to be able to merely pay him lip service much longer. The trigger will need to be pulled.
But what of the man himself? After a successful jaunt in NXT, where he would win the re-introduced Million Dollar Championship in a wildly entertaining feud with Cameron Grimes, the 40-year-old Knight seemed tailor made for a likewise prominent push on Raw or SmackDown.
Instead, Vince McMahon repackaged the former Eli Drake as Max Dupri. Managing Maximum Male Models, many fans were left wondering what the hell was going on. There was, it turned out, no need to panic. When Triple H assumed control of creative last summer, order was restored and LA Knight was off to the races.
When you order LA Knight on Wish. Credit: WWE
Speaking exclusively to SPORF during Money In The Bank weekend in London last month, Knight revealed just what he thought of the Max Dupri gimmick.
“Let me just say it wasn’t my cup of tea,” Knight revealed with a wry smile on his face.
Capturing The Audience
“But not to dwell on the past, you look at what we’re doing now and people are saying ‘he needs the push. He needs the rocket’ and stuff and I’ve been making this stuff happen now for the last few months. Why? Because I’m able to be me, do me, go out and do my thing and be the guy that has resonated with everybody.”
When it comes to resonating with the audience, it is a skill that is a lot easier said than done in terms of mastering and remaining over to the degree that Knight has done. So how he does Knight manage to maintain his aforementioned momentum?
“I dunno man, it’s nothing where I’ve said ‘I’m gonna go out there and do this and do that’. That stuff is just on the fly, man. A lot of the stuff is just ‘what am I feeling? What’s happening?’ and I think the people can feel that I’m not just out there regurgitating lines or anything like that. It’s just me doing me.”
Is the top of the WWE ladder in LA Knight’s future? Credit: WWE
The Second Half Of 2023 Is LA Knight’s
And as for how different things might have been under Vince McMahon’s creative stewardship, Knight disclosed that he didn’t have much to offer on the differences between McMahon’s creative process and the one preferred by Triple H.
“I don’t know enough about the inner workings of that. I just kinda show up and do my thing. At that point, it’s just somebody is running the show and this is what I’m doing for the day so I don’t know cos I don’t dig into that.”
While SummerSlam’s card appears to be shaping up without LA Knight’s involvement, with crowd reactions from WrestleMania and Money In The Bank weekends so loud they’re still ringing in everybody’s ears, the autumn and winter months could be career defining for the former Impact Wrestling star. So when the clocks go back, expect to see a lot more Knight.
WWE SummerSlam will be live on Peacock and the WWE Network on 5th August from Ford Field, Detroit
Featured Image Credit: WWE