Though he was never officially announced for the card, the 80,000 fans packed into SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California waited with bated breath to see if their namesake hometown hero, LA Knight, would make his surprise debut at WWE's biggest show of the year, and provide the sort of pop that only the “Megastar” can provide to an already stacked WrestleMania 39 card.
Would Knight answer The Miz's open challenge on Night 1? Nope, that honor went to Pat McAfee, who did a fine job with some help from George Kittle. How about on Night 2, when Snoop Dogg offered up another open challenge for the “A-Lister?” No again, that honor went to Shane McMahon, and that did not go nearly as well both from a crowd standpoint and from Shane-O-Mac literally tearing his quad on a botched leapfrog attempt. Factor out an LA Knight-“Stone Cold” Steve Austin war of words that would have been incredible but failed to materialize, and the “Megastar” was left a bridesmaid on the outside looking in for not one but two nights.
But why? While LA Knight doesn't know specifically, he admitted on BT Sport that the omission hurt and clearly looks like a mistake in hindsight.
“No. I kind of let that one just stay where it was because I had let out all my anger and frustration that night before because I felt vindicated by the reaction that LA had given me [at] SmackDown the night before. It was big, it was huge. It kind of made me even more pissed off that I didn’t have something going on the next day,” Knight said via Fightful. “At that point, though, I just had to be like, ‘Alright, well, jt is what it is.’ Bye, and kind of just left it in the rearview mirror. So no, I haven’t really thought about it, reflected on it, whatever. Glaring omission, you say? Yeah. Maybe even a stumble or a fumble, I don’t know. But here we are, and we’re going to make up for it.”
Unfortunately for LA Knight, WWE probably won't be heading back to LA any time soon, but needless to say, if another Premium Live Event comes to town, it's safe to assume the “Megastar” will be featured prominently, especially if he wins Money in the Bank in London this weekend.
"The reaction in LA made me more p***** off I didn't have something going on the next day."
— WWE on BT Sport (@btsportwwe) June 28, 2023
LA Knight admits he made mistakes on his path to the WWE.
Elsewhere in his interview with BT Sport, Knight discussed his 20-year path to the WWE and explained that, while he feels he should have earned the opportunity a long time ago, some of his decisions may have impacted getting to WWE earlier.
“I’m 20 years deep at this point, so I didn’t really leave myself a plan B, I didn’t leave myself any backup plan,” LA Knight noted. “But there’s so many times where, even if you think about it now, in a weird way, I shouldn’t even be here. But at the same time, I should’ve been here a long time ago. That’s the other thing, where it’s like there’s so much frustration, there’s a lot of anger always festering around in this head because of the fact that this all should have been happening a long time ago. It didn’t for various reasons. Sometimes it was my own thing happening. Maybe I shot myself in the foot, maybe I decided to take money elsewhere. Sometimes it was politics, sometimes it was this, that, whatever. But here I am now, and it’s happening. So I can appreciate the journey, at least. I can at least appreciate the path that I’ve taken. I’ve got a h*ll of a lot of skin in the game. So that’s why, you talk about an opportunity like this, and I’m gonna make the damnedest of it. So I’m gonna come out with that case, and then where do we go from there? Well, we’ll find out.”
After bouncing around the wrestling world for the first decade of his career, wrestling for NWA and Championship Wrestling from Hollywood before landing in WWE as an NXT talent named Slate Randall, LA Knight found his first real success in TNA/Impact, where he mastered his Eli Drake character and became a three-time champion. Would LA Knight be where he is today had he not spent those years in Impact and even NWA? It's impossible to know, but thankfully, WWE fans are getting the full LA Knight experience now, which, frankly, is all that really matters. At Money in the Bank, Paul “Triple H” Levesque has the potential to create his next great star, but will he pull the trigger? Hopefully, the answer is a resounding “yeah!”
"In a weird way I shouldn't even be here, but at the same time I should've been here a long time ago!"@RealLAKnight is ready to prove everyone who's doubted him wrong when he leaves London with the briefcase 🤑#MITB pic.twitter.com/w1rJPj9ZIL
— WWE on BT Sport (@btsportwwe) June 28, 2023