Pro Wrestling
Pro Wrestling

Shaun Ricker (November 1, 1982) is an American professional wrestler currently signed to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) on the SmackDown brand under the ring name LA Knight. In the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) he is a former NWA World Tag Team Champion with James Storm. In Impact Wrestling he was a one-time Impact Global Champion, a one-time Impact Wrestling King of the Mountain Champion and three-time Impact Wrestling Feast or Fired Briefcase Winner. In 2013 he appeared on the TNT reality television show "The Hero", which is hosted by semi-retired WWE star The Rock.

Professional wrestling career

Eli made his debut in 2002, working matches for NWA Wildside during the months of February 2002, January 2003 and April 2003.

Independent circuit (2003-2020)

Heartland Wrestling Association (2003-2009)

Eli began working regularly for the Ohio-based promotion Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA) in 2003 under the ring-name of Deuce. He competed in various matches that included singles and tag-team action before challenging unsuccessfully for the HWA Heavyweight Championship against Chad Collyer in a Title vs. Career match held on October 31, 2006. Ricker would not return to HWA until late 2007 returning under the name of Dick Rick at HWA Reborn in a losing title match against Brian Jennings for the HWA Heavyweight Championship on November 9. During 2008, Dick Rick competed in numerous tournament-styled matches for the Number One Contender status for the HWA Heavyweight Championship. He won a three-way match against Deja Vu and JT Stahr on November 5 for the Number One Contender spot. On November 12 Rick lost to Champion Jake Christ in the title match for the Heavyweight Championship. After wrestling in an unsuccessful four-way elimination match for Number One Contender status on March 18, 2009, Rick went on to compete in several more tournament-styled matches before wrestling his last HWA match on June 3, losing to JT Stahr.

Mach One Pro Wrestling (2009-2011)

After HWA, Eli started working for Mach One Pro Wrestling (M1W) in late 2009. His first match was at M1W Fight Night, losing to Tommy Wilson on October 16. He then won two consecutive matches in singles action against Andrew Hellman during M1W Fight Night on October 23 and again on October 30. Eli went on to team with Willie Mack defeating Andrew Hellman and Sonny Samson. He faced and lost to Brian Cage in singles and tag-team action during the months of November and December. Cage would be the man Ricker would later form the team known as Natural Selection. Finding initial success as a tag team, Ricker and Cage went on during the January month in 2010, competing in a tag team tournament, winning all of their matches including the final match for the M1W Tag Team Championships on January 29 from the team of The RockNES Monsters (Johnny Goodtime and Johnny Yuma). However, Champions lost the titles to the same team they defeated to first win them at the M1W event on April 16. Eli's last match for M1W was on October 29, 2011, defeating Nick Madrid at M1W Wrath Of Con III.

Future Stars Of Wrestling (2011)

Eli debuted on August 28 at FSW No Risk No Reward 2 where he and Mempho Mofo wrestled a tag match won by The Sons Of Texas (Brandon Gatson & Jody Kristofferson).

Championship Wrestling From Hollywood (2011-2016)

During December 2011, Ricker moved to work for the promotion Championship Wrestling From Hollywood (CWFH). He rejoined forces with Brian Cage, reforming The Natural Selection tag team and won the NWA Heritage Tag Team Championships on December 8, from The RockNES Monsters.

2012 was highlighted with Ricker's participation in the Percy Pringle III Cup Tournament, during which he was eliminated in the match final by Ryan Taylor. On December 2, 2012, Ricker wrestled in a Ten Man Gauntlet won by Brian Cage for the Number One Contendership right to challenge for the United Wrestling Network Television Championship.

Ricker found success in singles and tournament-based matches, by winning the CWFH 30-Man Red Carpet Rumble to win the CWFH Heritage Heavyweight Championship on May 5, 2013 and successfully defended it that same night. Ricker however, lost the title later that night to Scorpio Sky in a Loser Leaves CWFH match. Ricker returned the following month on June 9 to defeat Ryan Taylor, leading his succession of victories over Christian Cole and Big Duke in two separate matches on that date.

Ricker returned on December 20, 2014 and defeated Eric Cross in a singles match. The following year, Ricker returned on January 20]], 2015 to compete in a Number Contender Gauntlet Battle Royal won by Willie Mack. During 2016, Ricker appeared during the January 24 CWFH TV Taping where he defeated Douglas James. On April 10 at CWFH Coastline Clash, Ricker defeated Big Duke in a Best Two-Out-Of-Three Falls Match.

World Wrestling Entertainment (2008, 2013-2014)

Ricker made his first appearance in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in 2008 in a dark match on the ECW program, teaming with Gene Snitsky in a losing effort against Cryme Tyme.

NXT (2013-2014)

Ricker returned to WWE in October 2013, being assigned to its training roster NXT. His NXT debut was on October 23rd, in a dark match, defeating Yoshi Tatsu. From there, Ricker went on to wrestle a total of 13 matches. He was later released from his contract on August 1, 2014.

Return to Independent circuit (2014-2016)

Full Impact Pro (2014)

At FIP: Fallout 2014, on September 5, Ricker teamed with WWE NXT alumni Mason Ryan and Michael Tarver, in a losing six-man tag team tournament semi final match against Dos Ben Dejos (Jay Cruz & Jay Rios) & Lince Dorado. On that same date, Ricker, Ryan and Tarver defeated All Business (Blake Edwards Belakus, Jesus De Leon & The American Viking) during the first round of the tournament match.

Future Stars Of Wrestling (2014-2018)

Ricker made his Future Stars Of Wrestling debut on November 21, 2014 at FSW Luck Of The Draw where he defeated Kenny King. He became the FSW Heavyweight Champion beginning on November 19, 2016 after Kevin Kross.

The following year, Ricker returned to the ring on March 12, 2017 during FSW When Stars Collide, in a singles match lost against Matt Hardy. He wrestled his final match on March 11, 2018 at FSW MECCA II, teaming with Disco Inferno in a tag match lost to ECW legends Raven and Tommy Dreamer.

Pro Wrestling Revolution (2015-2017)

Ricker made his Pro Wrestling Revolution (PWR) debut under the ring name El Hijo de Trump on the May 17, 2015 edition of PWR, teaming with Oliver John as team La Migra in a tag match won by Blue Demon Jr. & El Mariachi. On October 11 at PWR, Ricker debuted as El Hijo de Trump and defeated El Mariachi. Six days later on October 17, he won a victory against El Campesino II.

On July 9, 2016 at PWR, El Hijo de Trump defeated the reigning champion Blue Demon Jr. to win the PWR Heavyweight Championship. On October 15, El Hijo de Trump retained the title by disqualification in a rematch against Blue Demon Jr.

El Hijo de Trump wrestled his final matches both on April 15, 2017 at PWR Revolution X, where he retained the PWR Heavyweight Title in singles matches against Juventud Guerrera and Ultimo Panda.

Asistencia Asesoria y Administracion (2016)

Beginning on June 3, Ricker was a part of the Asistencia Asesoria y Administracion (AAA) Lucha Libre World Cup 2016. His first night match against Dr. Wagner Jr. ended in a time limit draw. Later that same night, he and Tyrus as Team TNA and their opponents Team Internacional (Dr. Wagner Jr., Dragon Azteca Jr. & Rey Mysterio Jr.) wrestled to a time limit draw also. On the third night of the tour, Drake, Ethan Carter III & Tyrus as Team TNA wrestled in a four-team battle royal match won by Team Resto del Mundo (Apolo, Mil Muertes & Rockstar Spud), against Team Royal Road/ZERO1 (Akebono, Ikuto Hidaka & Masato Tanaka), Team Leyendas (Blue Demon Jr., El Canek & La Parka II) and Drake's team.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling / Impact Wrestling (2015-2019)

The Rising and various feuds (2015–2016)

On February 16, 2015, Ricker participated in TNA One Night Only's TNA Gut Check tournament, where he defeated Crazzy Steve to qualify for the final match of the night which was a five-way elimination match which was won by Tevita Fifita. On March 14, 2015, Ricker, under the name of Eli Drake, participated in the Impact Wrestling tapings. Drake joined Drew Galloway and Micah to form The Rising, defeating The Beat Down Clan. On the July 1 episode of Impact Wrestling, The Beat Down Clan defeated The Rising in a 4-on-3 Handicap match, forcing The Rising to dissolve. On July 15 episode of Impact Wrestling, Drake turned heel when he cost Galloway a match against the TNA World Heavyweight Champion Ethan Carter III. On the August 5 episode of Impact Wrestling, Drake defeated Drew Galloway. On the August 19 episode of Impact Wrestling, Drake faced Galloway in a No Disqualifications Match but lost the match. On the September 9 episode of Impact Wrestling, Drake, Jessie Godderz and Kenny King faced Robbie E, Tigre Uno & Micah in a losing effort.

On October 4, 2015, at Bound for Glory, Drake competed in a twelve-man Bound For Gold Gauntlet match which was won by Tyrus. Drake participated in the TNA World Title Series as a member of group Future 4, along with Jessie Godderz, Micah and Crimson advancing the round of 16 along with Godderz where he would be losing in the round of 16 to Mahabali Shera, thus failing to advance to the quarterfinals and being eliminated from the tournament. On the January 5, 2016, the first live edition of Impact Wrestling episode on Pop Eli Drake and Jessie Godderz started feuding with Kurt Angle and Drew Galloway which led to a match at TNA One Night Only Live, which was won by The Wolves. On January 26, 2016, Drake won the Feast or Fired match and the briefcase that contained a title shot for the future TNA King Of The Mountain Championship. On the February 9 episode Of Impact Wrestling, Drake was attacked by Grado who had been fired after his Feast or Fired briefcase contained the pink slip. Later that night Drake interrupted him backstage and told him "he better shut up about whatever he thinks he knows" and then attacked Grado again and had him escorted out of the building through the tunnel. Drake feuded with Grado once again who was masked as Odarg the Great feuding him backstage with Jessie Godderz and telling him he was going to be facing against him. This led the match on the February 16 episode of Impact Wrestling, which he lost, and led to the rematch at TNA Lockdown special episode of Impact Wrestling in the Six Sides of Steel match, in which he's unsuccessful due to interference from the returning Mahabali Shera who went on to team with Odarg the Great and pulling his mask off from his face. On the March 15 live edition of Impact Wrestling he received another rematch against Grado in a Ladder match, the career of Grado on the line, however he was defeated by Grado to end the feud.

Fact of Life and Namer of Dummies (2016–2019)

On the May 31 episode of Impact on Pop (taped April 23), Drake cashed in his Feast or Fired briefcase for his shot at the TNA King of the Mountain Championship, defeating Bram who was just viciously attacked by Lashley, winning his first title in TNA. On June 12 at Slammiversary, Drake defeated Bram to retain the championship. On the June 28 episode of Impact Wrestling, Drake hosted a Fact of Life segment, inviting James Storm as his guest, where he proceeded to insult him; Storm eventually hit Drake with the Last Call, igniting a feud between the two. The next week on the July 5 episode of Impact Wrestling, Drake defended the King of the Mountain Championship against Storm, but intentionally disqualified himself to save the title. However, on the August 4 episode of Impact Wrestling, Drake lost the King of the Mountain Championship to James Storm. Drake entered in the Impact Grand Championship tournament on the September 8 episode of Impact Wrestling, defeating Jessie Godderz in the first round. However, he was defeated by Aron Rex on the September 22 episode of Impact Wrestling in the semi final. At Bound for Glory Drake won the Bound for Gold. On the October 6 episode of Impact Wrestling, Drake started a feud against Ethan Carter III, after his Fact of Life segment. On the October 27 episode of Impact Wrestling, Eli Drake and Aron Rex defeated Ethan Carter III and Jessie Godderz in a tag-team match. On the November 10 episode of Impact Wrestling, Drake cashed is Bound for Gold opportunity but failed to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against Eddie Edwards. On the November 24 episode of Impact Wrestling, Drake faced EC3 in a title shot vs. voice match where if Ethan lost, he would lose his Heavyweight title shot and if Drake lost, he would not be able to talk for the rest of 2016. EC3 won the match by submission.

On the January 5 episode of Impact Wrestling, Eli Drake have a confrontation against The Broken Hardys during his returning Fact of Life segment, which led to a tag team match for their TNA World Tag Team Championship at One Night Only: Live, teaming with Tyrus, in a losing effort. However, his association with Tyrus continued, Tyrus helping him to take the red case during the Race for the Case on the January 19 episode of Impact Wrestling. On the February 2 episode of Impact Wrestling, Drake cashed is Race for the Case briefcase for a match against Ethan Carter III, but was defeated. After the match, Tyrus and him attacked EC3, but they were assaulted by the Death Crew Council. On the February 9 episode of Impact Wrestling, Eli Drake and Tyrus were defeated by The Death Crew Council a handicap match. During the match, Drake abandoned Tyrus and leaving him alone. A match was scheduled between Drake and Tyrus two weeks later, who ended by a victory of Tyrus by disqualification. After the match, Drake proposed more money to Tyrus for keeping him as a bodyguard, which Tyrus accepted. On the March 16 episode of Impact Wrestling, Drake and Tyrus were defeated by Garza Jr. and Laredo Kid. During the match, Drake unintentionally hit Tyrus, causing the loss.

On April 7, 2019 Impact Wrestling announced they had ended their business relationship with Drake.

Second return to independent circuit (2019–2020)

After his release from Impact Wrestling Drake wrestled his first match on May 11 at Maverick Pro Wrestling's MPW Revolution event. There, he lost a four-way match for the vacant MPW Revolution Championship against Brandon Cutler, Chris Bey and JT Dunn. On July 10, Drake debuted in Bar Wrestling during the Brian Cage's Bachelor Party event, teaming with Chris Dickinson and Mike Verna in a tag match lost against Joey Ryan, Luchasaurus & Scorpio Sky. On August 17, Drake debuted in World Wrestling Council during the second show of the WWC Aniversario 46 event, losing to Carlito. During the third show of the WWC Aniversario 46 event, Drake lost a title match against the reigning WWC Universal Champion Orlando Colon. The following week, on August 24, Drake debuted in Viral Pro Wrestling at the Mikey Gulino's Summer Of Quack event, losing a match to Sean Legacy.

Ring Of Honor (2019)

Drake made his televised debut on June 28 at the 2019 pay-per-view event Best In The World. There he teamed with the reigning NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis in a tag match against The Briscoe Brothers. The following night he wrestled a dark match for the June 29 taping of ROH, defeating Grizzly Redwood.

National Wrestling Alliance (2019-2020)

Drake made his debut in 2019 during the September 30 NWA Power Television Taping, where he wrestled two matches including a successful singles match defeating Caleb Konley. His second match included teaming with NWA wrestling star Tim Storm in a tag match against Dave Dawson & Zane Dawson. The following night on the October 1 NWA Power Television Taping, Drake competed in a three-way match to decide the new Number One Contender for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. In this match, Drake wrestled against fellow Impact Wrestling alumnus James Storm and Mr. Anderson.

In 2020 Drake teamed with James Storm on January 24 at NWA Hard Times. There they won a three-way tag match defeating The Wild Cards members Royce Isaacs & Thomas Latimer and champion team The Rock 'n' Roll Express to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship.

Return to WWE (2021-present)

At the NXT Takeover: Vengeance Day pre-show, Eli Drake would make a return under the new name, LA Knight. It was later confirmed that Knight had signed a new contract with WWE. Knight made his in-ring return on the March 17 episode of NXT, defeating newcomer August Grey. On the March 24 episode of NXT, Knight lost to Bronson Reed. On the March 31 episode of NXT, Knight won a battle royal to enter a Number One Contender match held at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, but was eliminated by Bronson Reed. During the April 20 and May 4 episodes of NXT, Knight won singles matches defeating Dexter Lumis and Jake Atlas respectively.

Million Dollar Championship Reign (2021)

LA Knight then began a feud with Cameron Grimes after Knight interrupted Ted DiBiase and Grimes during their Million Dollar Faceoff on the May 25, 2021 episode of NXT. Knight demanded that he receive DiBiase's fortunes and, after clocking Grimes, left with the Million Dollar Man. On the June 1, 2021 episode of NXT, Knight faced Jake Atlas, who defeated Cameron Grimes on the May 18, 2021 episode of NXT, promising to show why he deserved the Million Dollar legacy. However, after both Grimes and DiBiase came down to ringside, Knight was defeated after a distraction from Grimes. On the June 8, 2021 episode of NXT, Ted DiBiase announced that he would bring back the Million Dollar Championship, which would be contested in a Ladder Match at NXT TakeOver: In Your House 2021. At TakeOver: In Your House 2021, Knight defeated Grimes to win the Million Dollar Championship.

On the June 15, 2021 episode of NXT, Ted DiBiase presented Knight with the Million Dollar Championship, however, Knight turned on DiBiase, leading to Grimes coming out to save the Million Dollar Man. On the June 29, 2021 episode of NXT, Knight interrupted Grimes after his victory over Ari Sterling, with Grimes challenging Knight to a match for the Million Dollar Championship. Knight agreed, but only with the stipulation that Grimes would become his butler if he lost. At the NXT Great American Bash 2021, Knight defeated Grimes to retain the Million Dollar Championship and force Grimes to become his butler.

With Cameron Grimes now Knight's butler, the Million Dollar Champion put him to work. Grimes, however, took it on the chin, finding his way out of the work and knocking Knight into a pool. On the July 20, 2021 episode of NXT, Knight challenged Drake Maverick after Maverick attempted to help Grimes carry the Million Dollar Champion's bags. Knight's arrogance got the better of him in his match against Maverick, causing Knight to lose after he was knocked into his own championship belt. After the match, Knight forced his butler to punch Maverick. On the August 3, 2021 episode of NXT, Knight and Grimes, who was forced to wrestle in his butler outfit, faced the Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake & Zack Gibson). Knight and Grimes were defeated after the Million Dollar Champion left, refusing Grimes the tag, and leaving him to fend for himself.

After Knight quickly defeated Andre Chase on the August 10, 2021 episode of NXT, DiBiase arranged a match where Knight would defend his Million Dollar Championship against Grimes, but if Grimes lost, DiBiase would become the champion's butler. On the August 17, 2021 episode of NXT, Knight employed Josh Briggs to take out Cameron Grimes before their match at NXT TakeOver 36, but Briggs was unsuccessful. At NXT TakeOver 36, Grimes defeated LA Knight after Ted DiBiase locked in the Million Dollar Dream, which was followed by a Cave In from Grimes to win the Million Dollar Championship.

NXT (2021-2022)

In his first match since losing the Million Dollar Championship, LA Knight defeated Johnny Gargano on the August 31, 2021 episode of NXT. On the September 14, 2021 of the rebranded NXT 2.0, Knight was scheduled to compete in a Fatal Four Way for the vacant NXT Championship, however, Bron Breakker challenged Knight to a match at the beginning of the show. Knight was defeated by Breakker and was unsuccessful in winning the NXT Championship in the main event. On the September 28, 2021 episode of NXT, Knight attacked Odyssey Jones after Andre Chase distracted him, setting up a match for next week, which Knight won after Chase distracted Jones.

Knight kicked off a feud with Grayson Waller on the October 19, 2021 episode of NXT after Knight defeated Waller to be the host of NXT Halloween Havoc 2021. On the November 2, 2021 episode of NXT, Knight distracted Waller to cost him his match against Boa. On the November 9, 2021 episode of NXT, Knight was unsuccessful in winning a Triple Threat with Waller and Solo Sikoa. Knight promised to take out Grayson Waller so that he could get his shot at the NXT Championship on the November 16, 2021 episode of NXT. The feud between Knight and Waller continued after Waller attacked Knight before his match with Joe Gacy on the November 23, 2021 episode of NXT. At NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2021, LA Knight fought alongside Johnny Gargano, Pete Dunne, and Tommaso Ciampa as Team Black And Gold in a losing effort to Team 2.0 (Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Grayson Waller, and Tony D'Angelo).

Knight returned to NXT on the January 11, 2022 episode, attacking Waller after he was defeated by AJ Styles. On the January 18, 2022 episode of NXT, Waller presented a restraining order against LA Knight, however, Knight said that Waller could fight Dexter Lumis instead. Waller emerged victorious after an unknown man, or "insurance policy" as Waller called him, attacked Lumis. Knight wrestled his first main roster match in a winning effort over Cedric Alexander on the January 27, 2022 episode of Main Event. On the February 1, 2022 episode of NXT, Knight faced Joe Gacy but was defeated after Sanga, Waller's "insurance policy", distracted Knight. After the match, Sanga brought down Knight with a chokeslam, with Waller tempting to lift the restraining order, but only if Knight defeated Sanga.

Next week on the February 8, 2022 episode of NXT, Knight defeated Sanga after sending him into an exposed turnbuckle and hitting him with a neckbreaker. However, instead of Waller lifting the restraining order, he threatened that Knight would be arrested for breaking it. On the February 22 episode of NXT, Knight lost to Waller. After the match, Knight attacked Sanga and Waller before calling himself the "Last Man Standing". This led to a Last Man Standing match between Waller and Knight at NXT Roadblock 2022 on March 8 where Knight lost. The following week, Knight challenged Dolph Ziggler for the NXT Championship in a losing effort. On the March 22 episode of NXT, Knight confronted Gunther after the latter's match, setting up a match between the two at NXT Stand & Deliver 2022 where Knight lost. This was Knight's final NXT match.

Main roster (2022-present)

Knight made his televised main roster debut on the May 20 episode of Smackdown, under the new ring name Max Dupri. On the July 8 episode of Smackdown, he introduced Mace and Mansoor as part of a new faction called Maximum Male Models. The relationship ended on the September 30 episode of Smackdown, where Mace and Mansoor tried to set the record for the longest Canadian pose, which angered Dupri. He told them that he could no longer move forward with the group. The following week, Dupri officially reverted back to his LA Knight moniker.

Knight would soon feud with Bray Wyatt. On the November 11 episode of Smackdown Knight was being interviewed backstage about his anger at not being included in the SmackDown World Cup Tournament when Wyatt arrived and introduced himself. Wyatt said they can be friends because he understands Knight's anger. Wyatt asked Knight how far he is willing to go with his anger to which Knight insulted Wyatt resulting in Wyatt headbutting Knight and walking away. On the November 18 episode of Smackdown, Wyatt offered an apology to Knight but Knight slapped Wyatt, saying he accepts the apology and now they are even. Wyatt agrees they are now even and offers a handshake to Knight but Knight strikes him again. Later that night, Knight was found trapped underneath rubble backstage after appearing to be attacked. Over the coming weeks, Knight continues to be attacked while each time Wyatt denied attacking him. On the December 9 episode of Smackdown, Knight provided evidence that Wyatt was the attacker given that Bray's mask was present when Knight was attacked. The following week a mysterious figure appearing to be Wyatt tied up Knight in footage received via a QR code. Later that night, Knight attacked Wyatt before being chased away by the appearance of Uncle Howdy. On the December 30 episode of Smackdown Knight again confronted Wyatt, only this time Howdy arrived and attacked Wyatt. This led to a Pitch Black match between the two being made official for Royal Rumble 2023.

In wrestling

  • Nicknames
    • "The Defiant One"
    • "The Namer of Dummies"
    • "The Perpetual Motion Machine of Badassery"
    • "The Prince of Eternia"
  • Entrance music
    • "Fame" by David Bowie (M1WCWFH)
    • "Wish It Away" by Psyko Dalek (TNA; used as a member of The Rising)
    • "The Ghost in Us" by Dale Oliver (TNA; used as a member of The Rising)
    • "Eli Drake" by Dale Oliver (TNA / GFW / IMPACT)
    • "Eli Drake" (Remix) by Dale Oliver (IMPACT)
    • "Rollin' Deep" by def rebel (NXT/WWE)
    • "How Ya Like Me Now" by def rebel (WWE; used while a part of Maximum Male Models)
    • "Knight Vision" by def rebel (WWE)
    • "Welcome To LA" by def rebel (WWE)

Championships and accomplishments

  • Championship Pro Wrestling
    • CPW Tag Team Championship (1 time)  –  with Jackpot
  • Mach One Pro Wrestling
    • M1W Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Brian Cage as The Natural Selection
    • M1W Tag Team Championship Tournament (2010) – with Brian Cage

External links

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