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Shelton Benjamin

Shelton Benjamin in Toronto on May 10, 2007 for an autograph session. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea
6'2", 245 pounds
BORN: July 9, 1975 in Minneapolis, MN
NICKNAMES: Mr. Benjamin

All of Shelton Benjamin's life, he has been a champion wrestler, from high school up until the present day. He was a standout in the amateur mat game beginning in high school in Orangeburg, S.C., where he went 122-10 and was a two-time State Champion, earning that honour in 1993 and 1994. Moving on to Lessen Community College in Suisunville, CA, where in addition to becoming a Junior College National Track Champion in the 100 metre, he was a Junior College National Wrestling Champion in 1996 after being a National Place-Winner the Year Before.

After graduating from college, Benjamin became an assistant wrestling coach, and also began to train with another outstanding amateur wrestler from Minnesota, Brock Lesnar. Recruited by the University of Minnesota in 1997, Benjamin went 36-6 with 12 pins and placed 6th in the 1997 Big Ten Championship. There was talk that Benjamin might try to qualify for the 2000 Olympics. Instead, he decided to begin a pro career, Benjamin was signed to a developmental contract by the WWE and began wrestling in Ohio Valley Wrestling where he would re-team with Lesnar as the Minnesota Stretching Crew.

The team of Lesnar and Benjamin quickly rose to the top of the ranks in Ohio Valley, winning the OVW Tag Team titles twice between February and July, 2001, defeating the Disciples of Synn (BJ Payne and Damian) both times. On July 14th, 2001, the Minnesota Stretching Crew were forced to forfeit those titles when Benjamin went down to an injury. A third championship reign would begin on October 29th, 2001 when Lesnar and Benjamin defeated Rico Constantino and the Prototype (John Cena) to fill the very vacancy caused when Benjamin went down to injury.

The final reign of the Minnesota Stretching Crew would last only a week, due in part to the fact that in November, Lesnar was called up to the WWE. Benjamin would team with Redd Dogg Begnaud (Rodney Mack). The two would be dubbed "the Dogg Pound" and would win one more OVW Tag Team Championship on July 17, 2002, with a defeat of Flash Flanagan and Trailer Park Trash.

In the summer of 2002, Benjamin made a couple of appearances on WWE Sunday Night Heat, defeating Justin Credible and Shawn Stasiak. During OVW's "Fall Brawl" in September, Benjamin was offered a WWE contract, but was torn as to whether he could leave his partner Redd Dogg. Redd Dogg became jealous and attacked Benjamin after a title defence against Nick Dinsmore (Eugene) and Rob Conway. Redd Dogg would also defeat Benjamin in a match to determine who would gain control of the OVW Tag Team belts. On December 26th, Benjamin would appear on Smackdown, teaming with Charlie Haas as part of Team Angle, led, of course, by then-WWE Champion Kurt Angle.

Less than a month later, Team Angle defeated Los Guerreros to become the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Champions, a title they successfully defended at Wrestlemania XIX in a Triple Threat match against Los Guerreros and Chris Benoit/Rhyno.

After Wrestlemania, Team Angle continued to battle Los Guerreros, although it would be the team of Tajiri and Eddie Guerrero that would defeat Benjamin and Haas in a ladder match at Judgment Day. Having lost both the tag titles and Angle's gold medals, the team faced the ire of their returning leader, eventually feuding with Angle.

Renamed "the World's Greatest Tag Team", Benjamin and Haas regained the Smackdown Tag titles and soon lived up to their name, defending against all comers for several months, until September 18th, when they were defeated by Los Guerreros. During the match, Benjamin suffered an knee injury, putting him on the sidelines for approximately a month.

After an unsuccessful campaign to regain the titles from Los Guerreros, Benjamin and Haas began to feud with the APA, beginning with a loss during Smackdown's Christmas in Iraq episode and continuing until Wrestlemania XX. The end of the World's Greatest Tag Team came during the draft lottery, when Eric Bischoff picked Benjamin to join his Raw roster.

Benjamin's singles career got a big push with several victories over Triple H, Ric Flair and Randy Orton in his first few months on Raw. However, he fractured his hand during a match against Garrison Cade and was forced out for several months.

When he returned in September, it was to help Orton and Chris Benoit in their battle against Evolution. As well, he was voted to receive an Intercontinental title shot at Taboo Tuesday. Benjamin made the most of it, defeating Chris Jericho for the title.

Benjamin would retain the title against Jericho, Christian, Maven and Gene Snitsky while also helping Benoit, Orton and others battle Evolution. But instead of defending the Intercontinental title at Wrestlemania XXI, Benjamin was involved in the 6-Man "Money In the Bank" ladder match, won by Edge.

In the weeks following Wrestlemania, Benjamin found himself challenged by the man he had defeated for the title: Chris Jericho. Benjamin retained the title against Jericho at Backlash only to team with Y2J against Muhammad Hassan & Khosrow Daivari. The team was short-lived however when Jericho failed to show up for a scheduled tag match.

The expected feud between Benjamin and Jericho failed to materialize and Benjamin lost the Intercontinental title not to Jericho but to new draftee Carlito Cool, who defeated Benjamin on Raw and retained the belt in several rematches, including one at Vengeance.

After teaming with the Big Show to battle Chris Masters and Gene Snitsky for a couple of weeks, Benjamin found himself reduced to feuding with Chavo Guerrero, Jr, then known as Kerwin White.

Shelton's losing streak continued and Benjamin even shoved aside the advice of Shawn Michaels. However, that streak ended when his Momma arrived on the scene. Although Benjamin lost to Shawn Michaels, he defeated the likes of Viscera and Val Venis.

After defeating Eugene to become the number one contender, Benjamin followed it up by defeating Ric Flairto regain the Intercontinental Championship on February 20th.

In addition to defending the Intercontinental Championship, Benjamin competed in the Money in the Bank match at Wrestlemania 22, only to lose to Rob Van Dam who, at Backlash defeated Benjamin for the I-C title.

Benjamin regained the title in a Texas Tornado match om May 15th, when he teamed with Triple H and Chris Masters to defeat John Cena and Van Dam. Because Benjamin took the winning fall over Van Dam, he won RVD's Intercontinental title.

Next up was a three-way feud with Carlito Cool and Johnny Nitro which saw Nitro win the title at Vengeance.

Benjamin regained the title in a Texas Tornado match on May 15th, when he teamed with Triple H and Chris Masters to defeat John Cena and Van Dam. Because Benjamin took the winning fall over Van Dam, he won RVD's Intercontinental title.

Next up was a three-way feud with Carlito Cool and Johnny Nitro which saw Nitro win the title at Vengeance to end Benjamin's third and final run with the belt. Over the next two years, he would not be successful in winning any other championship, making this timespan the longest title-less stint in his WWE career. After his altercations with Nitro and Carlito, Shelton went on to reunite the "World's Greatest Tag Team" alongside Charlie Haas. The duo went on to feud with Cryme Tyme and several other tag teams in the promotion but were unable to achieve another title win.

In his singles run at the same time, Benjamin was, for the first time, not part of the annual Money in the Bank ladder match at Wrestlemania 23, marking it the only instance in his WWE career. He would return to concentrate more on singles competition in November of 2007, after being brought into ECW, now with the nickname "the Gold Standard". Sporting a good record in the brand, he would once again qualify for the signature Wrestlemania ladder match for the 4th installment, this time falling to CM Punk. Shortly thereafter, Shelton was drafted to Smackdown as part of the 2008 WWE Draft and, less than a month later, was able to secure another and to date final run as champion by defeating Matt Hardy for the US title.

While defending his new crown against contenders the likes of Jeff Hardy and R-Truth among others, Shelton would go on to be part of the WWE title Scramble match at Unforgiven, though in a losing effort. Benjamin was the only participant to neither pin be pinned successfully throughout the bout. He was also part of "Team Orton" in the signature tag team elimination match at the 2008 installment of Survivor Series. He pinned title challenger R-Truth in the process before getting eliminated by opposite team leader Batista who fell to aforementioned Orton to ultimately lose the bout.

After having minor altercations throughout several episodes with the Undertaker, Benjamin wound up being eliminated by the same in the 2009 Royal Rumble after entering the match at number 20. As there was a Wrestlemania match built up between the Deadman and Shawn Michaels, the feud was ended through this and Shelton instead tried to become part of the Elimination Chamber match but ultimately fell to Nemesis MVP who would go on to defeat him for his US championship at Smackdown's 500th installment, ending the reign at 243 days. The Gold standard made his fourth appearance in the Money in the Bank ladder match at Wrestlemania 25 in a losing effort after CM Punk claimed the briefcase for a back-to-back win before being drafted back to his former home ECW in June of 2009. He went on to feud with debuting superstar Yoshi Tatsu, Zack Ryder and future-world-champion Sheamus over the next months, falling to the latter in the process. Shelton once again took part in the Survivor Series match, this time as part of "Team Morrison", again falling to the opposing team's leader, this time The Miz.

Benjamin challenged Christian for the ECW championship at the first-ever TLC event in a losing effort. He went to the Smackdown brand after the aforementioned ECW brand closed and was, for the fifth time, part of the annual Money in the Bank ladder match at Wrestlemania 26, this time falling to Jack Swagger. Shelton was part of a mass-firing in April of 2010 containing names like Mickie James and Jimmie Wang Yang and subsequently returned to the independent circuit.

The Gold standard quickly made strides outside of the majors, winning the WWC and MWF heavyweight titles in the following year after leaving the WWE. He also reunited once again with former tag team partner Charlie Haas to reform the "World's Greatest Tag Team" on the indie circuit. They became regulars for Ring of Honor and were able to pick up wins over the "Briscoes" and the "Allnight Express" before claiming the promotion's tag team titles against the "Kings of Wrestling" on April 1st of 2011. The duo went on to retain the championship against former belt-holders the "Briscoes" and the "American Wolves" among others as well as the team of world and television champions Davey Richards and Jay Lethal.

Benjamin and Haas fell to the Briscoes in December for their seventh title reign but were able to reclaim the belts in May of the following year. They wound up losing the titles to the "Allnight Express" in their second defense. Shelton simultaneously made a singles run in NJPW, even challenging for multiple titles in the promotion in losing efforts.

--- compiled by John Milner & Frederik Heinen

SHELTON BENJAMIN STORIES

  • Feb. 24, 2011: Haas & Benjamin reborn in Ring of Honor
  • Apr. 22, 2010: Seven released from WWE
  • May 11, 2007: Shelton Benjamin hard to faze
  • Photo gallery of Shelton Benjamin in Toronto