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Unfortunately, Max Dupri is back on WWE’s SmackDown

WWE, Max Dupri, LA Knight, Maximum Male Models, SmackDown, Triple H, Vince McMahon, Maxxine Dupri

LA Knight is one of the most talented talkers in the WWE Universe.

Though he’s never pulled an Eddie Kingston and cut a compelling promo on a cookie – at least not on camera – he got himself over in no time on NXT with his LA Knight persona, even if it’s a sort of strange moniker for a performer born in Hagerstown, Maryland, who just cut his teeth with NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood. Whether working with Ted DiBiase against Cameron Grimes, wrestling with the NXT Gold and Black team in WarGames, or his long-standing feud with Grayson Waller – who, apparently couldn’t get the job done – Knight showed up, and showed out in a fantastic way.

From there, he was elevated to the main roster but unfortunately, it was Knight who couldn’t get the job done, at least in the eyes of Vince McMahon, as he was rapidly moved over to the manager side of the roster and, after a few weird weeks of doing Dark matches working with Mace and Mansoor, he was repackaged as Max Dupri and thrust into a series of vignettes hyping up the arrival of his new talent agency, the “Maximum Male Models.”

Now, for long-time fans of Dupri/Knight/Eli Drake, these segments were weirdly endearing, as Dupri played the character very tongue and cheek and brought a sort of unhinged energy that made Adam Pearce uncomfortable in a very fun way, but when Claudio Castagnoli debuted at Forbidden Door despite Dupri’s declarations that a European performer was headed to the team, the group ultimately proved to be Mace and Mansoor, now known as “ma.çé” and “mån.sôör,” and they were booed to the nth degree in a way that looked genuinely surprising to a performer like Knight who was used to getting himself over whether as a heel or a face. While some suggested that this could be the end of the line for Dupri the character, as its originator, Vince McMahon, reportedly found Knight’s performance unsettling and opted to replace him with his sister Maxxine – aka NXT’s Sofia Crawford (more on her here) – fans, non-fans, and the performer himself alike all watched on in surprise as a fourth member of the Maximum Male Models joined the group in their SmackDown vignette.

Friends, Max Durpi is back, at least for now.

Poor LA Knight is stuck with his zombie character in the WWE.

Normally, when a slew of reports come out suggesting that a performer is done with their character, it’s not a good sign for their future. Very rarely can a performer turn around a persona in a week or two, and if some random employee is leaking that a change could be forthcoming, it usually means that that particular piece of knowledge is commonly held within the organization.

Could Max Durpi be the rare exception to the rule? Eh, maybe a little bit, but unfortunately, LA Knight probably wishes he wasn’t.

You see, in those reports, LA Knight’s ambivalent nature to the character he was given, with some suggesting that being a polarizing manager might not be his preferred presentation at this point in his career; if given a choice, Knight would probably return to the ring in his old, “badass” presentation style from NXT, or at least the Eli Drake aesthetic he went with in TNA/Impact, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. No, after a week away, Dupri was back in his suit alongside Mace and Mansoor and cheesed at the camera alongside his Kayfabe sister from behind dead eyes that even a pair of sunglasses couldn’t hide.

Poor Knight, that just looks painful.

Now granted, we haven’t seen the MMM’s in a wrestling ring on a proper episode of SmackDown just yet; maybe there’s something planned where Knight is the secret wrestling savant who covers for his wards while they pose in the ring, or maybe the plan is to book Knight to eat losses to cover for the newly re-configured Mace and Mansoor, but at this point, it’s hard to see this partnership as anything but a confusing was to get a good talker in the ring without actually wrestling.

Very weird indeed.

Who knows, maybe Triple H sees something in Max Dupri that Vince McMahon didn’t and opted to bring him back in the hopes of doing something more authentic down the line. Maybe Dupri will get kicked out of the group by his sister and have to fight his way back to the top of the male management world. Or maybe the company simply wants to find the right way to write him off before LA Knight mysteriously returns to the promotion after an extended break. Either way, it’s hard to argue that anyone is less excited to have Max Durpi back on television screens than the man playing the role.