LA Knight’s transformation in the last year, becoming one of the biggest and most popular WWE superstars is not one that happens often.
Usually, WWE superstars have to be built up for years at a time before they get the sort of crowd reactions and mainstream crossover appeal that LA Knight has managed to amass in such a small time period.
Speaking to The Inner Sanctum as part of a promotional tour of the Elimination Chamber Premium Live Event taking place in Australia, the Megastar said it was a point in his career he was unsure of ever reaching.
“Yes and no. Kind of in my head, I always knew like I had something here. I was just always frustrated I could never find that window of opportunity,” Knight said.
“But there was a point during the pandemic for sure because the world was thrown a whirlwind, you didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know if wrestling was ever going to come back the way it was.
“And so I’m just thinking my career, quite frankly, is probably over at this point and then I just decided ‘well, we’ll give it one more overture’ and things just happened to roll into place and I rolled into NXT in February, 2021.”
Knight was then elevated to the main roster after his time in NXT, but not as LA Knight. He was portrayed as ‘Max Dupri’, a leader of a modelling agency and it was almost five months until he would revert back to his original persona from the developmental brand.
He describes the change, and rise in popularity as one of WWE’s biggest stars as ‘vindicating’.
“A lot of vindication in that because again, you’re talking about a long climb, you’re talking about years and years of being on the outside, knocking the door, ‘hey guys, you’re missing something right now. I’m out here, you could use me’,” Knight said.
“For some reason, being looked over, whatever the deal was, it just didn’t happen.
“And so finally, whether it was just the right stars aligning, the right dominos falling in place, finally I got that window of opportunity and every single time I got a chance to strike, I was striking with the most fierce damn vengeance you could.”
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Knight is scheduled to compete at the Royal Rumble next Sunday in a fatal-4-way match for the Undisputed WWE Universal Title against AJ Styles, Randy Orton, and defending champion Roman Reigns.
While the Megastar would not make a prediction, he has a specific goal in mind.
“You’ve got three big stars in the business in AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, and you’ve got the best in the damn business, LA Knight,” he said.
“I’m not one to make big time predictions, but the only thing I can say is my goal is to walk out of Royal Rumble [as] WWE Champion.”
It is a stark change from his Royal Rumble appearance 12 months earlier, where he wrestled Bray Wyatt in what would be Wyatt’s final match before his death last August.
“At the time, I wasn’t aware it was going to be that, as I’m sure he wasn’t either,” Knight said.
“In a weird way, people bring it up and I’m like, ‘well I guess it’s kind of cool and an honour’, but at the same time, I’d really prefer it wasn’t his last match. Obviously that’s out of everyone’s control.
“I guess in some weird way that enshrines me in some way, but the main focus that I have on that, is that whole buildup to that match was what ended up putting me on the map.”
“It was the buildup and me taking advantage of those little windows of opportunity I was talking about, because if they gave me 30 seconds to go out there and do what I can do, well you bet your a** I’m going to go and pound this pavement.
“You’re going to give me two minutes? Okay, cool, I’m going to go out and do that.
“You’re going to be out there with The Undertaker. Alright, cool, well then he’s going to hear every bit of trash talk I can give him and that’s what ended up happening.
“So at this point now, I made myself, as cliche as it sounds, undeniable, and there’s really nothing anyone can do about it once the audience started demanding LA Knight.”
Following the Royal Rumble, the next Premium Live Event on WWE’s calendar is Elimination Chamber: Perth, which will take place at Optus Stadium on February 24.
Knight is unsure if he is scheduled to be in the traditional Elimination Chamber match, which is one of the most harrowing structures in WWE.
While the Megastar is aware of the risks participating in that type of match poses, he will not fear what may happen.
“Nobody wants to beat their body up, but that’s kind of what we signed up for doing this job as a living,” he said.
“Is there a little bit of trepidation in that, is there a little bit of consideration in the fact that I’m going to come out of this maybe a little differently than I went in? Sure there is.
“But if you go in and you’re scared or you have fear going into any of these types of matches, you’re already dead on arrival.”
WWE Elimination Chamber: Perth takes place at Optus Stadium on Saturday, February 24 and tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.