…Okay, maybe that wasn’t the biggest question occupying the WWE Universe, as Vince McMahon did announce his retirement earlier in the day, with the new-old dynamic duo of Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan taking his place, and Paul “Triple-H” Levesque returning to an EVP of Talent Relations role, but after being advertised for the show as part of the debut of his sister, Maxxine, Max Dupri was noticeably absent from the show.
What gives? Did Max have issues getting to the venue? Did he have to call out sick? Or did creative, freed from the clutches of Vinny Mac, decide to take things in another direction entirely?
Well, as it turns out, fans got their answer on Saturday night, as, during Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor, Wade Keller reported that WWE was taking the Maximum Male Models in another direction, with Maxxine, aka NXT’s Sofia Cromwell, now taking over the duties of managing Mace and Mansoor – or ma.ce, and man.soor, – as they are called now. The performer himself was reportedly not-too-high on the idea, and while Vince McMahon initially loved it and was heavily involved in Dupri’s presentation, he eventually soured on how the angle was being received and decided to bring a female presence into the group.
So what gives? Is Dupri done done with the promotion? Or will he kick it back down to NXT or even just to RAW in a new gimmick entirely?
So, what did I miss??
— Max Dupri (@MaxDupri) July 23, 2022
Let’s take a look at LA Knight’s post-Max Dupri options with the WWE.
3. Return to NXT
The easiest thing the greater WWE company could do for Max Dupri is simply kick him back to NXT and allow him to continue on as LA Knight.
While giving consistent TV time to a performer who is almost 40 didn’t quite fit into the vibe of NXT 2.0’s business plan, which is largely why he was called up to the Main Roster alongside Tommaso Ciampa after OGs like Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole left the company, the retirement of Mr. McMahon could allow for more of the NXT of years passed to make a triumphant return, with performers like Rodrick Strong and Knight potentially needed to serve as measuring sticks for younger talents like Von Wagner.
Would it be weird to see Knight back in NXT? Maybe a little. Does he want to play out his current contract as effectively a mid-game boss who stands between younger talents like Bron Breakker and the Main Roster? Eh, probably not, but hey, at least he’d be able to perform in the ring and actually wrestle, which he is almost as good at as working the mic.
2. Give Knight a new gimmick in RAW and/or SmackDown
On paper, LA Knight has a unique ability to pretty much fit into any promotion, faction, or really gimmick. Say what you will about Max Dupri, but he certainly made it work, where a lesser performer would have collapsed under the pressure of being booed out of the building by crowds ill-equipped to have their “juices titillated.”
Now imagine if Knight was given, like, any other gimmick at all, especially one where he can actually wrestle? He can wrestle face or heel, form a tag team, go solo, or even be the third man in a trio, with an NXT team like, say, Chase University landing the man born Shaun Ricker as their mouthpiece. Even if creative doesn’t see Knight as a main eventer, or even in the same performer realm as Cody Rhodes, Riddle, Theory, and even Ezekiel, he could still more than hold his own in the mid-card and serve as a good setup man for bigger matches against the likes of Gunther and Bobby Lashley.
1. Release him
If WWE doesn’t have anything for Knight on the main roster and doesn’t want to send him back down to NXT, the best thing they could do is release him outright and let another promotion see what they can do with his talents. At 39, Knight isn’t getting any younger, and after being in pretty big demand when his contract with NWA expired, with Tony Khan initially reaching out about his services, it isn’t hard to imagine his talents still being in demand after a 90-day non-compete clause comes to an end.
Could you imagine Knight, back in his Eli Drake character, using his very weird return to the WWE as fodder for a run in AEW, serving as a hybrid between 2020 Matt Cardona, 2019 Cody Rhodes, and 2022 Cody Rhodes, back in The Fed? If AEW is going to embrace Ari Daivari filling the role of a trust fund kid who is trying to buy his own wrestling faction, I’m sure they could find something for Eli Drake, one of the best talkers in the business, at the TNT Championship level at the bare minimum.