WWE Is Making A Mistake With LA Knight At Crown Jewel

LA Knight is, without question, the hottest talent in WWE at the moment. His rise to becoming one of the most popular Superstars in the company has often been described as "meteoric" but, perhaps more importantly, it has been completely organic. Let's not forget that at the start of the year, the "Mega-Star" was engaged in a feud with the late Bray Wyatt that culminated in the very forgettable Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match. He hardly seemed destined for the main event of anything then and there. 

But Knight has put in the work and found his own magical connection with the WWE Universe. Built almost entirely on charisma, personality, and all the interactivity a wrestling fan could dream of, Knight has strapped the proverbial rocket to himself these last few months and, as a result, finds himself with a prime opportunity this Saturday at Crown Jewel — in the main event challenging Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. And creatively, that is a massive mistake for WWE to make with a guy that absolutely screams "Money!" (and "Yeah!") right now. LA Knight does not belong in that position this weekend — not if WWE is legitimately trying to make the most of this rising star it has lucked into. That doesn't mean he can't get there eventually, or that there won't be a better time. It's just not now. 

The Organic Rise Of LA Knight

WWE has long been criticized for having a very narrow focus on who is considered a main eventer. Very few check all the boxes in what the creative decision-makers see as the type of talent capable of carrying the company forward. And, in most cases, you either have what they're looking for or you don't. Some — like Cody Rhodes, for example — have been able to shatter the limitations put upon them and break through their ceilings, but it took a lot of time, an obscene amount of work, and a complete overhaul elsewhere to change those perceptions and force himself into those conversation.

It's fair to say that LA Knight wasn't a factor in WWE's major plans — until he also forced such an issue. Knight's organic groundswell of popularity has been picking up steam, and it would have been foolish for WWE to just ignore it and pretend like it didn't exist. After all, that tactic was tried before in the past, and it did not go well for the company. (Remember the Yes Movement?) But a title match at this point against a champion on a historic tear would seem to indicate that this is seen as the height of LA Knight. Otherwise, why rush into such spot with him? But if Knight's trajectory is still heading upward, and he hasn't even come close to peaking yet, then why put him in a position where it's all downhill from here?

Something To The Stone Cold Comparisons

There definitely is something to the comparisons between Knight and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin — at least in terms of how their rises in WWE have come together. Austin was saddled with the D.O.A. gimmick of "The Ringmaster" on his arrival; Knight experienced something similar as Max Dupri. But once both were able to find their footings in developing personas that fit better for them, they took off. 

But Austin wasn't immediately thrust into the title picture, going head-to-head with the champ. Yes, there were injuries that came into play, but "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was slow-played for the fan base as they became more and more invested in what he was doing. They wanted to see more of that S.O.B. wreaking havoc on WWE television, marching to the beat of his own drum, playing by his own set of rules, and refusing to conform even in the slightest to what might have been expected of him. And WWE took its time in making the most of that, so that when Austin finally ascended to the position of WWE Champion, it was because there was nowhere else for him to go. His time had finally come. And he was not only the hottest thing in wrestling at the time — but arguably in the history of the business. 

Knight has not been afforded the same benefits of patience. His match at Crown Jewel feels like an instant gratification approach to get while the getting's good because no one knows if this will last. You'd be hard-pressed to name any meaningful feuds, rivalries, or programs that Knight has been involved in along the way to make this moment as meaningful as it could be. And while I'd be the first to admit that I personally don't quite get his appeal, it's impossible to look at all those fans chanting loudly along with him and say they're wrong about what they like. But that also seems to be all there is to him right now — surface-level excitement. 

What's The Plan For LA Knight?

Knight lacks a true emotional connection to what he does in the ring, and that's where the real difference between him and Austin or anyone else who has seen such a rapid rise in the business. I'm not quite sold on the fact that people care about what he does in the ring, or in matches, or in championships he might win. They want to see him come to the ring, so they can have a good time — but the rest of it doesn't carry the same weight. Now, that can be fixed — but it takes time, something WWE doesn't seem all that interested in giving to him as he's pushed into the Crown Jewel main event. 

After all, what's the plan for this weekend anyway? Is he really going to dethrone Roman Reigns? It'd sure be an unexpected wrinkle, but Knight as champion is along the lines of a dog catching the car it's been chasing. Once that lovable mutt finally reaches its prize, it has no idea what to do with it. So, while the idea of Knight as champ is fresh and new, it doesn't seem like anyone would know what the hell to do at that point — a recipe for dulling any of the shine Knight is continuing to grow. 

But the flip side is what happens when he loses on Saturday in Saudi Arabia, because that's where the real danger comes in for LA Knight. We've seen Superstars in the past climb the ranks quickly and be thrust into a title opportunity because they were white-hot. And when they walked away from those opportunities defeated, a certain degree of disappointment set in for hopeful fans. Does the name Braun Strowman ring a bell? His loss to Brock Lesnar at No Mercy in 2017 — when fans were clamoring for WWE to pull the trigger on a Strowman reign — killed any momentum he had, and he never quite recovered. WWE should be learning from those mistakes, not actively repeating them.

The Fallen Mega-Star

WWE has plans for what it wants to do with Roman Reigns and his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. It may include Cody Rhodes or The Rock in the grand scheme of things. But at least at this moment, LA Knight is not a legitimate part of it, so using him here in such a throwaway fashion could create some long-lasting damage that he never recovers from — and that's not good for him, the company, or the fans. 

I have enjoyed Knight's interactions with Reigns during the match's build, which have shown me the true potential in what Knight is capable of — especially if he can put his money where his mouth is repeatedly in matches that help build his credibility as a competitor. There is more to do with Knight and more for him to give. He is only scratching the surface of his popularity right now, and the sky is truly the limit if WWE commits to sticking with him. 

But, to everything, there is a season — and right now isn't LA Knight's. So I'd advise WWE to tread very carefully in Saudi Arabia with how LA Knight is treated — because it'd be a real shame to waste his mega-stardom just as he's getting started.