LA Knight is one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWE today, but this wasn’t always the case. Despite having the highest-selling merchandise in the company today, the company saw fit to fire LA Knight from the company in 2014, when he was just starting out on his journey toward the main event.
At that time, LA Knight was known on the indies by his real name, “Shaun Ricker”. However, when he signed for NXT in 2013, he was renamed “Slate Randall” and made a part of a star-studded roster that included PAC, Sami Zayn and Tyson Kidd. Being in such a talented group, he failed to stand out and lasted less than a year before being fired from the WWE.
LA Knight (wrestling as Slate Randell) only wrestled in enhancement matches in NXT. He was never featured on NXT TV, but wrestled against wrestlers like Mason Ryan, Jason Jordan and Angelo Dawkins, losing every single of his bouts. Before WWE fired LA Knight, he lost to Baron Corbin at an NXT live event in Florida, seven years before returning to the company under his brand-new name.
Despite his fantastic backstage promos, WWE fired LA Knight in August 2014. While there were multiple releases due to the yearly budget cuts during this time (with wrestlers like The Great Khali and Brodus Clay being let go), LA Knight’s release was different. He was released with cause, with the WWE office being unhappy with some of his online activity.
WWE officials were reportedly “unhappy” with some social media posts that LA Knight posted at this time. While it was not mentioned exactly what he said, reports from Dave Meltzer claimed that Knight insulted multiple other NXT talents, which ruffled feathers backstage.
He is also reported to have sent an email which was enough to “bury” him in the eyes of the company. However, what this email was, who he sent it to and what it was about, was not mentioned and has been kept a secret until today. Unfortunately, it was enough to get LA Knight released from the WWE, which led him to sign for TNA as “Eli Drake” in the years following.
However, LA Knight claims that the reason he was fired by the WWE was because he did not get on with then-NXT Head Coach, Bill DeMott. Demott was known as being hard to work with, and resigned in 2016 after years of allegations of bullying and abusive practices, which were corroborated by talents like Ryan Nemeth and Enzo Amore.
“When I got let go the first time, it wasn’t because of a talent issue,” Knight explained. “That was made very clear to me. It was very much a professional issue. Me and the head coach at the time, the way that things were going was not good. I was poking the bear because of things that were happening.”
LA Knight also spoke to X-Pac on his podcast to talk about his relationship with DeMott, accusing him of never liking him and talking bad about to him to Triple H, which contributed to his firing.
Thankfully WWE brought LA Knight back in 2021, following his fantastic work with both TNA and the NWA. He has gone from Max Dupree to LA Knight, and got himself over enough to main event a pay per view against Roman Reigns in 2023.
Some have also claimed that LA Knight is related to Elias, which you can learn about by clicking the link.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.