Saturday, February 18, 2012

Black History Month: Shelton Benjamin

Shelton Benjamin (WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger

Shelton Benjamin may have been one of the fastest rising stars in the WWE in 2004, and in my opinion one of the most misused wrestlers in the history of the WWE.  I really had high hopes for him.  Benjamin had (has) a ton of potential.

Benjamin's early days in OVW saw him teaming up with fellow Minnesotan, Brock Lesnar, as the Minnesota Stretching Crew.  Together they held the OVW Southern  tag team titles three times.  Then in late 2002, Benjamin was called up to the WWE.

World's Greatest Tag Team
He arrived on the scene with Charlie Haas as the World's Greatest Tag Team.  I liked the gimmick.  They were following in the footsteps of Olympic hero Kurt Angle.  The trio worked well together.  Even after they separated from Kurt, the WGTT impressed me.  Then they got split in the draft, and Benjamin went to Monday Night Raw.  He had a couple of really good matches with Triple H, in which he won.  I thought this was the beginning of something good for him.  And it kinda was, he did capture the Intercontinental title three times and the U.S. title once.  And he and Charlie held the tag team gold twice.  But I always thought Shelton would go all the way and win the WWE or World heavyweight titles.

He certainly deserved the opportunity.  His in ring work speaks for itself.  Granted, he wasn't the best on the mic, but I still don't think that needs to be something that prevents a guy from reaching the top of the mountain.

Shelton and his "momma"
After peaking, Shelton got paired up with actress Thea Vidale.  She was his momma in the angle.  I guess the point was she was there to get her son back on track, and it helped somewhat, as he won another IC title during the angle.  I know they also attempted to reunited the WGTT, but that didn't last long either.  Both Benjamin and Haas got lost in the shuffle.  He also at some point went blond and became the Gold Standard, winning the U.S. title during that stint.  So while his WWE resume looks pretty good, I still feel like there was something (or someone) holding him back.

Shelton and Charlie have found success in Ring of Honor as the company's tag team champions.  Shelton still does work in other indies as well and does pretty well.  I'd personally like to see he and Haas return to the WWE and help jumpstart the tag team division there.  Then after some time have him back in the hunt of the WWE title.  But I have serious doubts that will ever happen.

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