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ANOTHER TOP WWE NXT STAR BACKSTAGE AT SMACKDOWN

By Mike Johnson on 2022-01-21 15:27:00

WWE NXT star LA Knight is also backstage at today's WWE Friday Night Smackdown taping, PWInsider.com has confirmed.  Knight joins Roderick Strong, who PWInsider.com reported was at the taping earlier today.

Knight, 39, signed a WWE deal to join WWE's NXT brand in February 2021. 

Originally trained by Cody Hawk, Knight first began to make waves as Shawn Ricker working on the West Coast, including a run for Dave Marquez's Championship Wrestling from Hollywood where he was managed by the late Percy Pringle.   He broke through on The Rock's TNT reality series Hero, which led to being signed to the WWE developmental system.  He worked under the NXT banner from October 2013 through May 2014.

After being released from WWE, Knight debuted for Impact Wrestling in February 2015 as Eli Drake.   Over the course of the Impact run, he held the Impact World Title as well as the Impact Tag Team title with Scott Steiner and the now-defunct King of the Mountain Championship.  With a great gift for gab, Knight was a strong performer for Impact over the course of his run. 

Impact announced in April 2019 that they were terminating Knight from his contract two months before it was slated to expire.  At the time, PWInsider.com reported, "Sources tell PWInsider.com Impact management was upset with comments Drake had made about the company on recent interviews and had already been unhappy with him after he refused to wrestle Tessa Blanchard at the United We Stand event that took place this last Thursday in Rahway, NJ.  Drake had been very vocal online about not wanting to do it, so much that it appeared to be a storyline explaining the change to Joey Ryan replacing him.  Instead, it was very much a real situation."

While there were concerns at the time this could lead to a legal battle between the two sides, by June 2019, Knight issued a statement thanking Impact for his time there and moved on, later becoming the first person announced as signing an exclusive deal with the NWA under Billy Corgan's ownership.  He and James Storm would go on to win the NWA Tag Team Titles.  While the NWA paused production once the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Drake remained under an exclusive deal until late 2020, signing with WWE after that deal expired.

During his WWE NXT run, Knight feuded with Cameron Grimes over the Million Dollar Championship with WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase involved.  He recently returned to NXT TV to feud with Grayson Waller:

Knight is currently scheduled to wrestle on tonight's taping.

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