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1 Jul 2023

WWE Backlash With Bad Bunny

Damian Priest is WWE's new Mr. Money in the Bank. (Credit: Gladys Vega/ Getty Images)

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WWE Money in the Bank 2023 was a chance for LA Knight to reach the pinnacle of his career, but instead, it was Damian Priest who won the men’s Money in the Bank briefcase and a guaranteed future world title shot.

In 2023, no WWE star has grown more popular more quickly than Knight, a former Impact Wrestling star and WWE developmental talent who was actually released by the company in 2014. Nearly a decade later, Knight should have accomplished something that—with a few exceptions—virtually guarantees a future world title reign.

Would that have been the obvious outcome? Well, yes. But sometimes, the obvious outcome is also the best one, and Knight—not Priest—winning the men’s MITB match was one of those times.

Entering Money in the Bank, numerous WWE officials reportedly pushed for Knight to win the coveted briefcase, despite both Priest and social media sensation Logan Paul also being considered as potential winners. Paul would have been the likely winner if Triple H wasn’t a part of WWE’s creative process, as “The Game” reportedly didn’t want Paul to win the match.

With Paul potentially slated for a feud with Sheamus and Priest not yet solidified as a headliner even though WWE officials viewing him as one, Knight became not just the overwhelming logical favorite but the sentimenal favorite as well. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Priest’s victory as he’s a very good talent, but it was Knight’s time to shine.

After all, despite technically being booked as a heel during his main roster stint and getting absolutely squashed by Bray Wyatt at Royal Rumble in January, Knight’s popularity has been exploding at a rapid rate.

Last month, Knight himself explained on WWE’s The Bump (h/t Sportskeeda) why he thinks he caught on with fans: “I didn't get shoved down anybody's throat. I wasn't anybody's guy. I came in and I did my thing, and the whole world, whether you take me to Saudi Arabia, whether you take me to London, whether you take me to Puerto Rico, you can take me to Mobile, Alabama. And every place is going to make a whole lot of noise for LA Knight. You know why that is? Because they can see that I stand head and shoulders above everybody walking.”

In other words, Knight became popular in an organic fashion.

Naturally skyrocketing popularity, especially in pro wrestling, is a rarity, and yet, WWE just struck gold with Sami Zayn over the past few years. Knight isn’t quite at that level, but even though WWE has oddly stuck him in a heel role, the unexpected groundswell of support has left WWE with no choice: Knight has to be elevated to the top of the card, or fan resentment will be a major issue.

At Money in the Bank, WWE’s creative team had the perfect opportunity to propel Knight toward the world title with one giant leap. Instead, backstage favorite Priest got the career-defining victory, and in the long run, it may work out for Priest and WWE.

But Knight is hotter than any other WWE star right now, and WWE’s decision not to strike at Money in the Bank remains a massive head-scratcher.