Shelton Benjamin's Release Marks The End of an Era

Mike SalvatoreCorrespondent IIIApril 23, 2010

Well it finally happened.

Shelton Benjamin was future endeavored by the WWE earlier today.

I have been a wrestling fan for a long time now, I have had my favorites, but Benjamin was special.

The man was a perfect mix of speed, strength, athleticism, and most importantly fearlessness.

Benjamin first arrived in the WWE in late 2002 along with long time friend and tag team partner Charlie Haas as a member of Team Angle.

The two would go on to find great success in the Tag Team Division; winning the WWE Tag Titles twice before being spilt up in the 2004 Draft.

Ah, March 22, 2004.

This was the first time the WWE Universe would be introduced to Shelton Benjamin as a singles competitor.

He was immediately placed into a feud with Evolution, and after scoring consecutive victories over Triple H, it seemed like the sky was the limit.

The year culminated with Benjamin defeating Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Title at Taboo Tuesday.

Benjamin would go on to have the longest IC title reign of the decade; lasting approximately eight months.

He would participate at Wrestlemania 21 in the inaugural Money In Bank Ladder Match and without a doubt steal the show with his performance.

It only seemed logical that the next step for Benjamin would be to become a World Champion.

But it never happened.

He would go on to hold the Intercontinental Title three times before disappearing from Raw in the middle of 2006 and only making appearances on WWE Heat.

By 2007, he was drafted to the ECW brand where I think this is where the WWE finally gave up on Shelton Benjamin.

I had no problem with Benjamin going to ECW, as I thought it was a great chance for him to be a big fish in a small pond; but the WWE really dropped the ball here.

Elijah Burke introduced Benjamin to the ECW crowd for the first time, and it seemed that Benjamin’s greatest shortcoming, his mic skills, would be addressed by giving him a manger type in the person of Burke.

After a few weeks of Burke talking Benjamin up, and Benjamin declaring himself the Gold Standard it seemed like Shelton was back on track.

Then Burke disappeared from television before being released.

Shelton would have a ho-hum run in ECW, yet he never even managed to challenge for the ECW title.

He would soon be sent over to Smackdown and would be given a very forgettable run with the United States Championship.

Before you knew it, Shelton was back on ECW in the summer of 2009. He slowly began to turn face during the remainder of the year and even challenged for the ECW title at a pay-per-view.

Sadly that was the last of the momentum Shelton Benjamin would have with the WWE.

He would last only twenty seconds in the 2010 Royal Rumble, before heading back to Smackdown after ECW folded.

Benjamin participated yet again in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at Wrestlemania 26, but he was not the force he had been in years past and was basically an afterthought in the match.

One of the great mysteries in the IWC is why Shelton Benjamin never became a world champion.

Some people say it is because he lacked the necessary charisma and mic skills to be a driving force in the WWE.

I call that a bunch of baloney.

Yes, Shelton was by no means a maestro on the stick, but I feel that if you possess the ability he has it can be worked around.

Jack Swagger is your current world heavyweight champion, and he spent early 2010 jobbing to Santino Marella.

Sheamus won the WWE title within six months of his debut.

Neither of those two were huge forces, and their promo skills were weak as well.

If mic skills were a problem, give the man a manager!

As I mentioned above, I thought they were really on to something with Benjamin and Burke; only to have it blown up and really destroy both men’s careers.

Some other people say that Benjamin didn’t want the pressure of being a world champion.

Well, what would be the point of getting into the industry if you didn’t want to reach the top?

The same could be said of any profession.

You don’t seek out a job and are content to stay in the same position, nor would you be likely to turn down a promotion if it was offered to you.

Well what’s done is done.

Shelton accomplished more during his tenure then many wrestlers could ever dream of.

Yet I will always wonder why the man was never able to reach his potential within the WWE.

Ashley Morris wrote a wonderful article about his thoughts regarding the recent spring cleaning done by the WWE.

I will disagree with him in one regard; while it would kill me to watch TNA, and to see Shelton be thrust into that sinking quicksand, I would give anything to see him wrestle in somewhat mainstream wrestling again.


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