He’d actually been in the company’s developmental system for a couple years before he and Charlie Haas made their SmackDown debut as allies of Kurt Angle’s. He also spent about seven years working for Ring of Honor, New Japan & various independent promotions following his 2010 release. But December of 2002 is as good a time as any to mark the start of Shelton Benjamin’s WWE run, and that was 20 years ago, so...
It means WWE can celebrate Benjamin along with the other members of his Ohio Valley Wrestling (then WWE’s developmental promotion) class who had anniversaries this year, names like Brock Lesnar, John Cena & Batista. That group’s promotion to the main roster established WWE’s post-Monday Night War and Attitude Era identity.
Shelton’s resume isn’t filled with as many titles and big matches as those guys, but fans who were watching in the aughts know he’s a special in-ring performer. By all accounts he’s also a great person to have in your locker room — which is probably why he was brought back in 2017, and why he’s remained on the roster ever since through waves of releases and despite a diminishing role on television.
The video WWE released today (Dec. 26) covers a lot of that ground, and gives several of his co-workers a chance to talk about what Benjamin means to them...
The two things that stand out about that video are (1) how Mia Yim breaks her & Shelty’s personal kayfabe to praise the big brother figure she usually just trades insults with, and (2) WWE’s Senior Vice President of Talent Development Creative Shawn Michaels guaranteeing Benjamin will join him in the company’s Hall of Fame one day.
Considering some of the other names in WWE’s Hall, it’s hard to imagine too many would have an issue with a Shelton joining their ranks. If you don’t think he’s done enough over his years in the business to earn a spot, it’s probably worth learning more about how important capable midcarders and carpenters are to putting on a good wrestling show.
And if you wonder why HBK would push for Benjamin’s inclusion (or even if you don’t), you should definitely watch their Gold Rush Tournament quarterfinal match from the May 5, 2005 Raw.
Thanks for 20(ish) years of memories, Shelton. See you in the Hall of Fame someday.