It took LA Knight exactly half of his life to experience the height of his career. Twenty years after starting his professional wrestling journey, Knight gets the biggest opportunity of his career to date at WWE Fastlane when he teams up with all-time great John Cena.
"I have been at this for so long..." Knight, 40, told CBS Sports ahead of WWE Fastlane on Saturday. "That's the craziest part about this. In a weird way, it's like an overnight success, but it was also 20 years in the making to get to an overnight success. It's such a juxtaposition in a strange way. I still have a habit of looking over my shoulder and waiting for somebody to pull the rug out from under me.
"I'm used to, 'No, no, no' and me having to push, 'Yeah, yeah!' It's me having to create my own opportunities. Even when I'm now put into bigger opportunities, it's still not a point where I can relax."
Check out the full interview with LA Knight below.
Knight's role in one of Saturday's big matches is particularly unique. He will team with Cena, the shared record holder for most recognized world championship reigns in WWE history and a legitimate Hollywood star, as part of Cena's brief two-month return to action. They battle Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso representing The Bloodline, one of the most significant stables in WWE history. Knight's relentless dedication has carried him here, but self-belief can wane at times after such an arduous path.
"In a weird way, I've got no business being here," Knight said. "Looking just a year ago at where I was and what I was doing, what a hell of a turnaround. It's damn near unheard of.
"I'm not the best at letting myself really feel that. Maybe 10 years down the road when I look back. But right now in this situation, I'm just so -- I don't know if you'd say -- maniacally focused on making sure that everything hits the mark and that everything is the way I want it to be. It's tough for me to step back and be like, 'Wow, this is great!' Occasionally, I might have that thought but it's very fleeting."
Knight's success was the prophecy of late WWE Hall of Famer William Alvin Moody, better known to fans as Paul Bearer, the legendary manager of The Undertaker and Kane. Moody's last television appearance was managing Knight in an independent wrestling promotion called Championship Wrestling from Florida. According to Knight, Moody left him a letter of encouragement in his final moments. Knight said it feels "pretty incredible" to live up to his deceased friend's expectations.
"Part of the message was that he loved me and he knew I was going to go on to do big things," Knight said. "That was insane that he was thinking of me at that moment.
"The fact that this guy that I watched growing up was thinking about me at that time, that was crazy. That was an enormous thing to consider and an enormous thing to think about. I feel like I'm bastardizing it to make it about myself, but in a weird way, it's like my work had paid off in a certain sense that I'd garnered that kind of respect and friendship from somebody in the business."
It's evident that Knight operates with a chip on his shoulder, one formed from relentless passion and constant rejection. Knight headlining Fastlane is galaxies ahead of the guy released from his WWE NXT contract in 2014 or the male modeling manager gimmick he was saddled with in early 2022. Despite newfound heights, Knight's hunger is far from satiated.
"I don't know that with my personality I'll ever be satisfied," Knight said. "I have such a habit of nitpicking everything and getting down to nitty-gritty details... Obviously, for me, I want to be at the top of the mountain. There are a lot of hurdles to get there but I always wanted to be there.
"If you're not aiming to be the WWE champion, if you're not aiming to be that top guy, the face of the company and in the conversation as far as some of the greats, that would be at least close to that goal line. Maybe it would get me there. Maybe it wouldn't."