Who is the most over Superstar in the WWE Universe? Is it Roman Reigns? Seth Rollins? Cody Rhodes? How about the “Megastar” LA Knight, a performer that Paul “Triple H” Levesque, Vince McMahon, and company seemingly have no intention to push at all but continue to get more and more over with each passing week?
On paper, LA Knight has it all, multiple catchphrases, dynamite mic skills, and enough talent in the ring to keep himself in the game against nearly any foe. And yet, if you ask the ever-exciting WWE Superstar about his path to becoming a fan favorite, I'd note that it almost didn't happen, as, after effectively rejecting the Max Dupri gimmick that never quite worked on SmackDown, he thought he was going to be handed his walking papers, as he noted in an interview with Chris Van Vliet in the lead-up to Money in the Bank.
“Well, let me just go ahead and say this, I’m pretty sure I was fired, and it just hadn’t officially happened yet,” LA Knight said via Fightful. “But without getting into too many details, some things happened, I don’t remember what it was, but some things happened, and I had gotten a FaceTime, ‘Hey, we wanna keep you around, we wanna do this, that, whatever,’ 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. Eventually, things just kind of worked out, and I think maybe again, maybe some of the testament of why things are working the way they are and why people are reacting the way are is because one of these [characters] is not me, and I didn’t know who it was and one of these was very much me and I didn’t have to think about LA Knight.”
Ask how he was able to get the LA Knight gimmick over almost immediately after it was brought back, Knight noted that the character you see on screen is more or less himself, just heightened up to a dynamic degree.
“I don’t have to dig in and [ask myself] who is this, who am I, what am I doing… I just go in and do it, it’s just me heightened,” Knight said. “To me, my personality on TV, it’s an amalgamation of me at a party and me in an argument. When you stick those two together, you got LA Knight.”
A 21-year vet of the game who, by his own admission, didn't start making money until well into his 30s, LA Knight has put more effort into crafting the character fans knew on the indies as Eli Drake than some of his co-workers have spent in the ring period. Needless to say, when the LA Knight character was unleashed on the WWE Universe once more, it didn't take long for fans to fall in love with the performer who was a top star in Impact and NWA too.
LA Knight explains when he knew he was over with the audience.
Elsewhere in his interview with Chris Van Vliet, LA Knight discussed the reactions he received from the crowd after finally being freed from the Max Dupri character and when he knew he was really going to be something special on the main roster. For the “Megastar,” that moment came back in March, a few weeks following his MTN Dew Pitch Black match with Bray Wyatt at the Royal Rumble.
“It was back in March, we were in DC, Sheamus and Drew [McIntyre] were in the ring, and then all of sudden that music hit, and I walked out, and I remember it just kind of hit me, and I was like, ‘That's different.' But 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,'” LA Knight said via Wrestling Inc.
“Then we went to Pittsburgh the next week, and we went to New York the week after that, and everywhere we went beyond there just continued to pick up more and more, and I was just like, ‘Okay, well, I guess it's not. I'm not from New York, I'm not from Pittsburgh, so maybe it's not that.' And since then, it's just kind of picked up.
“LA got to a fever pitch, obviously. H*ll, Triple H was 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 wanna know why, but for some reason or another, the people are demanding it.”
In WWE, there's a time-honored tradition of fans picking a performer they like and getting behind them, even if the creative team isn't looking to push that performer for one reason or another. While LA Knight isn't quite in Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson territory just yet, if Triple H is smart, he'll give the people what they want and put some creative wind in the sails of the “Megastar” so he can become the main event-caliber star he was born – read: spent 20 years developing – to become.