Shelton Benjamin in Toronto on May 10, 2007 for an autograph session. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea
6'2", 245 pounds
July 9, 1975 in Minneapolis, MN
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.
--- compiled by John Milner
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
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