Has WWE Already Failed With LA Knight?

Missed opportunity? Yeah!

LA Knight
Source: WWE

In the ever-evolving landscape of professional wrestling, capturing lightning in a bottle with a breakout star is both a rare and highly valuable opportunity. The year 2024 has seen WWE stumble significantly in this regard with LA Knight, a charismatic and talented performer whose organic rise in popularity has been met with bafflingly tepid booking decisions.

LA Knight, known outside WWE as Eli Drake, is not new to the wrestling scene. His journey through various wrestling promotions honed his in-ring skills and sharpened his promo abilities, making him one of the most well-rounded performers in WWE today. His debut in WWE’s NXT brand was marked by standout performances and engaging mic work, quickly establishing him as a fan favourite.

When LA Knight transitioned to the main roster, following his awful rebranding as Max Dupri of course, the WWE Universe welcomed him with open arms. His blend of old-school bravado and modern-day charisma resonated with audiences, leading to significant crowd reactions at live events and a strong presence on social media. By mid-2024, LA Knight’s popularity had soared, positioning him as a potential main event star who could inject new energy into WWE programming.

Despite his appeal, WWE’s booking of LA Knight has been puzzling and inconsistent. Instead of leveraging his momentum to elevate him to the top echelons of the card, WWE has often relegated Knight to mid-card feuds that do little to showcase his full potential. The lack of a sustained push has caused frustration among fans who see Knight as a natural fit for the main event scene.

One glaring example of WWE’s mismanagement was Knight’s role at major pay-per-view events. While fans rallied for him to be included in high-stakes matches, he was often left out of marquee events or given short, inconsequential bouts that failed to highlight his strengths. His WrestleMania feud with AJ Styles seemed to be acting as more of a vehicle to re-establish ‘The Phenomenal One’ rather than showcasing a potential new headlining act.

LA Knight
Source: WWE

In an era where fan engagement and social media presence are crucial to a superstar’s success, ignoring the groundswell of support for LA Knight seems like a strategic misstep. The WWE Universe has proven time and again that it can elevate a performer to superstardom, as seen with the likes of Daniel Bryan and Becky Lynch. LA Knight’s trajectory could have followed a similar path if WWE had capitalized on his organic popularity.

As 2024 progresses, the question remains whether WWE will recognize and rectify its handling of LA Knight. There are still opportunities to course-correct and give Knight the platform he deserves. Integrating him into meaningful storylines, positioning him in title pictures, and allowing him to showcase his promo skills in significant segments could rejuvenate his career and satisfy the fans’ demands. It does seem that WWE are going in the direction of pitting LA Knight against United States Champion, Logan Paul, for SummerSlam. This originally was what WWE fans had pencilled for LA Knight at WrestleMania this year, however that wasn’t to be.

Moreover, WWE’s track record of turning underutilized talent into major stars is not unheard of. However, it requires a willingness to listen to the audience and adapt accordingly. LA Knight has all the tools necessary to become a top star in WWE; it’s a matter of whether the company will allow him to shine.

LA Knight’s journey in WWE throughout 2024 serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of capitalizing on fan-favoured momentum. While WWE’s booking decisions have so far failed to harness his popularity effectively, the support from the WWE Universe underscores the potential that LA Knight holds. It remains to be seen if WWE will pivot and embrace the opportunity to elevate LA Knight to the heights he is capable of reaching or if he will become another example of a missed opportunity in professional wrestling history.

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