Last week, I took Kevin Nash to task over his comments about LA Knight, where he called the WWE Superstar a ripoff of The Rock. Since then, and for those who missed it, Nash took time to address my article on his Kliq This podcast, where he was quick to discredit my take because of my lack of in-ring experience.
Since then, ring veterans such as Booker T and Jeff Jarrett, and even Conrad Thompson, the man whose podcast network hosts Nash’s show, have all pretty much said the same thing I said: everyone from wrestling is either inspired by or borrows from someone else, and it’s okay so long as it’s getting over, which it is in Knight’s case.
But another assessment from a former pro wrestler mirrored my take on Knight and surmised what I believe matters most in being a pro wrestler.
On the Keepin’ It 100 with Konnan podcast, Disco Inferno compared Knight to most modern pro wrestlers who place in-ring work ahead of mic skills and character, saying:
“I’m going to read two tweets, okay, and I tweeted this and said, ‘Ninety-nine percent of wrestlers pattern their act to today off Japanese wrestling, and they aren’t over. They’re identical. One guy patterns his act after The Rock, and he’s getting over huge.’
“All right, then I tweeted, ‘LA Knight is over. He followed a simple formula: copy the things that the most over wrestlers in the history of the business did as opposed to doing the things that Dave Meltzer likes. It’s a perfect case study.’ And I’m like, look, you can knock LA Knight, but you want to punish the guy for getting over by doing the things that the most over wrestlers did like twenty years ago during our time when they drew the greatest numbers?”
Like him or not, Disco Inferno isn’t wrong here. With the rise of the dirt sheets, thanks to the internet, there has been a significant shift in attitude from fans, current wrestlers, and aspiring pros, where a great emphasis is on match quality. In some cases, getting a five-star match from a particular observer is a dream come true.
But what it is, is limiting. That desire for best match honors only focuses on what entertains a subset of fans. Now that’s not to say that wrestlers shouldn’t give their best when wrestling. But where they place their efforts is misguided.
Today, almost any wrestler can do a dive or cut their head open. But what many of them can’t do is cut a promo. Regardless of how anyone feels about LA Knight’s style and cadence, Knight knows how to talk. His burst in popularity is thanks to his words, not his moves. His mannerisms and histrionics make him stand out, not his 360-Insert Spanish Word For a Flying Bug-Splash.
Currently, WWE is enjoying its best run in years, thanks to the growing number of characters on its roster like Knight and another crowd favorite, Dominik Mysterio. Mysterio, who can perform many eye-popping lucha moves, is WWE’s most hated bad guy because of his absurd character as a spineless weasel who is quick to jump into the arms of his female protector, Rhea Ripley. And the fans eat it up more than anything else he does in the ring.
With Knight, fans aren’t likely to see any titillating offense that leaves their mouths agape, which isn’t a knock on Knight’s in-ring talent. He is a solid performer who tells good physical stories. But where he stands out is as an entertainer.
And because of his ability to delight the fans, Knight is building an emotional connection that is likely to have crowds rushing to buy tickets to see him perform because it’s what most people do. They come to see stars.
Or, in Knight’s case, a megastar.