You need a hearing aide if you can’t hear the crowd every time this man’s music hits. The crowd, or rather the WWE Universe, is really digging LA Knight and has been for quite some time. Yet despite his rise in popularity, he didn’t win the Money In The Bank ladder match and that came as a shock to anyone paying attention and rooting for this epic talent.
Knight, whose real name is Shaun Ricker, and wrestled successfully over at Impact Wrestling as Eli Drake, isn’t at all run-of-the-mill, and he’s been showing that his entire career. He stands out….big time.
About his career, he has also wrestled extensively on the independent circuit and in the NWA as well, and as is important in pro wrestling, he hasn’t only racked in championships, but has come away with many extraordinary moments in the industry…moments being what the general portion of the pro wrestling audience remember—especially WWE fans.
Well, after a successful run on NXT, which started back in 2021 (Knight had had a run with WWE previously during his career before returning to Impact for quite the run), Knight would start on the main roster during the 2022 year, but sadly his character would be revamped to that of Max Dupri, a modeling manager…something that upset his fan base big time, and for very good reason.
First off, he wasn’t wrestling but merely managing a group of wrestlers turned into models (Mace and Mansoor). Many speculated that this was Vince McMahon’s doing , but the minute McMahon retired last year, Knight was brought back in his old form and much to the pleasure of the audience. (Vince would return from retirement and proceed to sell WWE to Endeavor, the company that also owns the UFC).
Knight, a heel, would win over the crowd bit by bit, and really adoration being shown to a heel hasn’t really been seen to this extent since the heyday of stars like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, which is of course promising.
Well, as Money In The Bank (2023) approached, many online were speculating that Knight was guaranteed to win the briefcase and the contract to challenge for a major WWE title or at least any title for that matter, but as the match progressed, it was clear he wouldn’t be talking the briefcase home.
Damian Priest would ultimately win the match and the coveted briefcase and speculation once again was running wild after the event as to why the briefcase wasn’t awarded to the rapidly rising star.
The turning of the tide for Knight—when he noticed the crowds were cheering for him:
“I can tell you exactly. It was back in March. We were in DC and Sheamus and Drew (McIntyre) were in the ring. Then all of a sudden, that music hit, and I walked out, and I remember it just kind of hit me. I was like, that’s different. I was just thinking to myself, I was like, ah, they probably know I’m from up the road…
Hagerstown is like an hour away. Maybe enough of them know. Then we went to Pittsburgh the next week. We went to New York the week after that, and everywhere we went beyond there, it just continued to pick up more and more, and I’m just like, okay, I’m not from New York, not from Pittsburgh, so maybe it’s not that…
Since then, it’s just kind of picked up. L.A. got to a fever pitch, obviously. Hell, Triple H is out there doing a presser in Saudi Arabia and he’s getting interrupted. So something’s happening. I don’t know why, and maybe I don’t even want to know why, but for some reason or another, the people are demanding me.”-via wrestling attitude.com (transcription)
As to his loss at the MITB event, some have even speculated that age is a factor, but that makes little sense as Damian Priest is the same age—in fact is a little over a month older. It can’t be a physicality thing, because Knight is in tip top shape and arguably even more so than many on the roster in WWE right now.
His matches are quick, non jittery and fluid. He tells an epic story and checks all three boxes in the business. If age is a factor, which I don’t think it is, WWE in the past have used stars well into their fifties, and Sting is still kicking you know what and taking names (as is Billy Gunn) over at AEW, so it sure is puzzling.
While he was playing the Max Dupri character, Knight actually thought he was in danger of getting fired, but after a while he was told that they were going in another direction with him. Knight recently told Chris Van Vliet:
“So somehow I had been saved from being thrown off the cliff. At least this is my interpretation of it. Maybe I’m incorrect. I don’t know. So eventually, things kind of worked out. I think that maybe again, maybe some of the testament to why things are working the way they are and the people reacting the way they are is because one of these was not me…
And I didn’t know who it was, and one of these is very much just me, like, I don’t have to think about LA Knight. I don’t really have to dig in like, what is this? Who am I? What am I doing? I just go and do because it’s just me heightened.”-via wrestling attitude.com (link above)
And so what now? Why hasn’t he been given the run he deserves? Triple H stated at the press conference following the MITB event: “Good things come to those who wait…” And we sure hope so.
Booker T had this to say recently on the topic of Knight and his involvement at MITB:
“Do I believe LA Knight can hold that spot? Hell yeah, I believe it. I believe it 100 percent, and I believe not winning the Money in the Bank, he’s gonna prove it even more why he should be in that spot.”-via e-Wrestling News (transcription)
I would definitely agree that Knight can show up and in a big way. Already rumored is a possible feud with none other than Stone Cold Steve Austin down the line, and that he may be turning face sometime soon.
Both are good possibilities for sure, but in the long run, LA Knight is the type of star that deserves to be in the main event, vying for major titles and yeah, on the grandest stage of them all. Time will tell, and if Triple H wants patience, fans are going to have to wait it out.
As for Mr. Knight himself, I think we’re good in the patience department. He’s been at it and climbing the proverbial ladder since 2003…20 years in the business. What’s a couple more years, right?
Better start crossing out those days on the old calendar dear readers…. WWE has a way of making us wait a long time to get what we want, but hopefully his rise and run at the top comes sometime soon.