Shelton Benjamin Is a Guaranteed HOFer! Shawn Michaels Match, His Momma, Brock Lesnar

Shelton Benjamin (@sheltyb803) is a professional wrestler currently signed to WWE. He sits down with Chris Van Vliet at the Blue Wire Studios at Wynn Las Vegas to talk about his incredible career that started when he signed with WWE in 2000. He discusses being training partner with Brock Lesnar, what Brock is really like outside of the ring, being part of the legendary OVW class of 2002 with Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, Dave Bautista, John Cena and Rico, his iconic match with Shawn Michaels on Raw in 2005, how they came up with the idea for the springboard into a Sweet Chin Music, the voting for Taboo Tuesday that lead to being Chris Jericho’s legit surprise opponent, being part of Team Angle with Charlie Haas, working with Chavo and Eddie Guerrero early in his career, the story behind Shelton’s Momma storyline, Shawn Michaels saying he has a guaranteed spot in the WWE Hall of Fame, who he would like to induct him and much more!

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Quote I’m thinking about: “All growth starts at the end of your comfort zone” – Tony Robbins

Meeting Brock Lesnar for the first time:

“Yes, I do, actually. And you know, it almost annoys me to tell the story. Because we were at a wrestling tournament in I want to say it was Fargo at you know, their university and Brock was still in junior college. And of course, we’re gonna say, you know, he’s hungry. And long story short, he won the tournament because I lost a match and we would have wrestled, but he won the tournament. And he was a junior college kid and I just remember everyone who saw him was like you see that? There’s never been a scrawny version of Brock that that I saw like, from the time we saw him he was rocking it. Our coach was salivating to the point where just because he was in junior college they immediately started recruiting him. So I’m kind of over in the corner like you know, I’m your heavyweight and you are recruiting another heavy right in front of me. But I mean you see the guy how would you not?”

A surprising Brock Lesnar fact:

“Something that you will be shocked to learn. Well, yes, everyone knows the Brock Lesnar persona. Now, if Brock is your friend he will give you the shirt off his back, the nicest guy in the world, fun and cool to hang around with. That might surprise people how actually cool Brock can be if he likes you, keyword is if he likes you. But if he doesn’t like you he’s just what you’re seeing on TV, that’s not an act. You’re not seeing a different version of Brock. You know, I spoke on this earlier Brock is not acting, Brock is not playing a role. Brock is Brock. What you’re seeing that’s real. Brock does not. He’s not social. He doesn’t give a blip. Like Brock is Brock so don’t get it twisted. And yes, he’s a world destroyer. I call them a juggernaut like Brock is, he’s a bad boy.”

On being underrated

“Um, yes, from an in-ring. Actually, take this back. I feel like I am an extremely good pro wrestler. But that being said at times, I do feel like I could have been a better WWE superstar.”

On the backstage reaction to that Superkick:

“So standing ovation. When I went back to the curtain Vince and everyone’s clapping and even Michael Hayes is like, you did something special tonight. And I was like, really? Again, I didn’t realise how special was, you know, I watched it back. This match is great. It’s really good. And but again, like I’m so like, is it really that good?I didn’t think of it until I kept getting it the very next week. You know, the kick is in the opening promos. I am like Okay, now, I’m starting to get it now. I’m starting to really get it.”

On the unplanned Taboo Tuesday match against Chris Jericho:

“Me and Chris have spoken about this, our match was the only match where it was 100% we don’t know what we’re going to do. Every other match has some sort of gimmick involved, you know, falls count anywhere or hardcore match or something. So everyone has some idea of what they were going to do. They just, you know, and who with. Chris had 15 guys, and they refuse to give him any information. And he kept, you know, he kept trying to get a feel for who’s it leaning towards, like, they wouldn’t tell him anything. Me, I was expecting to be in the back watching the show. So I wasn’t even asking anything. But Chris was trying to get an idea. So Chris was going around going, you know, talking to guys he goes, you know, to Dave [Batista] and be like, Hey, do you know when I do this, and I do this like, and Dave will kind of go, you know, I’m just using Dave as an example. But he is just kind of getting an idea of do people know my stuff and just trying to plant seeds for everyone. And he came to me and he’s like, Hey, Shelton, do you? Do you know when I do this? And I said I’ll stop you right there, Chris. I know all your stuff. He goes knew I didn’t have to worry about you. So I’m gonna go. You know, maybe you have to figure out something with Jonathan Coachman. And like you said when they announced the winner, I wasn’t paying attention. Like I was waiting for them to say Batista’s name. So and if you look at the tape, my reaction is a little delayed because I was like, Oh, wait, me? So I knew nothing. Went down to the ring. I knew nothing. We hadn’t called anything. It was all like I said, Chris, I know all your stuff, that’s still that’s as much as I know. You know, any information was conveyed to him. The ref never told me anything. So when we locked up as soon as we locked up off, he goes what’s your finish? I said T-Bone. He just kind of backed off and then we locked up and from there, I just listened. And he called everything. I just listened and followed. And when he said okay, for a finish, he’s like, Alright, stop short. I’m gonna jump catch with your finish. He still didn’t know what my finish was. So he just kind of jumped in turn and just did this. I try to hit him with a T-bone 123. I heard 3 and I was like, wait, what?”

Who did Shelton Benjamin learn from the most?

“I still say, Eddie. Because again, I was married to him for eight months. But I’ve said it before, every time I wrestled Shawn Michaels learning experience every time I wrestled Triple H. learning experience every time I wrestled Undertaker learning experience every time I wrestled Rey Mysterio learning experience. So I’m constantly learning from all of these great guys but at the same time. I’m learning from people behind the scenes to Arn Anderson was the brains behind Team Angle. Like Kurt was the figurehead but as far as our moves and our style and how we developed as a team, Arn Anderson.”

On Chad Gable:

“Gable, holy cow. That guy is a workhorse he is such a badass. I don’t think he realized how much respect I have for him. That guy’s badass. So and to see him like, like, say he’s turned on his comical chops. He’s constantly surprising me and I’m like, this would be a breakout star. We’re constantly trying to develop new talent, but I’m like man, this guy’s got it all. He’s my favorite worker. Like because you can put him in the ring with anyone, he can make him look good. He can toss anybody around you know? Like, when he tossed Braun Strowman it’s like you’re not supposed to be able to do that. But man, I’m so impressed by his work. So impressed.”

On being accompanied to the ring by his momma:

“I had a meeting with Vince and I was just like, okay right now I’m not doing anything, I want to contribute. And I had an idea and like first, and I don’t know where he came up with the momma thing. So when he first approached me about it, he basically said, How would you feel about having your real mama on the road? And I said, Absolutely not. There’s no way I’m going to expose my mother to this locker room. Because as nice as a guy I am. I love everybody on the roster. But if one person were to say something frost to my real mom, I would have had a really short career. So yeah, and so, like I said when he said it I was just kind of like huh, because the only reference I had to that was Buff Bagwell and his mom. I guess Jim Cornette used to always reference his mom way back in the day, but I don’t remember her ever making a television appearance, but I definitely remember the Buff stuff. So when things started with that, and I’ve said this before, I feel like that whole storyline gets a bad rap. Because my mom, Thea Vidale who’s, you know, she’s a comedian. And you know, she’s been on TV shows like I said, Me and Brandi have a mother in common. Me and the singer Brandi have a mother [in common]. When they brought her in they narrowed it down to just her and one other woman. And, yeah, it was like soon as she walked in, I knew exactly who she was. [Were you in the casting process?] Yes, it was me one of our producers and Vince. Ultimately they left it down to me and but everyone agreed Thea like she blew it out of the water and the day she did that audition in front of us was the day she made her debut on television, we made a decision that day. And she was a lot of fun to work with on camera because she is obviously way more animated than me. But you know, it was easy to slip into that whole momma’s boy role because like she had a very domineering personality, to say the least. And I was having a lot of fun with it. Like some of the skits like particularly when you know I walked in on her and Mr. McMahon with his pants down like, I was having so much fun with that. But unfortunately, like she has some medical problems and you know some other things that you know, I guess management wasn’t happy with you know. Basically, she got let go before the story could be completed. You know, that’s kind of a buzzword these days. Yeah, we didn’t finish the story because, as I said, I was supposed to be a momma’s boy, you know, and it’s successful, but at some point, I had to grow up and stand on my own without my mom.”

On The Gold Standard:

“I had been toying with the idea of dyeing my hair because they put us, they reformed World’s Greatest tag team. And while Charlie, I love Charlie to death, he’s my brother, best friend. But at that time, I tasted single success to me going back into the tag team was a step backwards. And so, I was thinking okay what can I change about myself, what can I add to make myself that basically changed up made myself more interesting and more marketable? And but I didn’t want to do anything so drastic that if I didn’t like it I couldn’t kind of morph back. I thought about dyeing my hair blonde, but I always held off. Because at the time, Viscera still had the blonde Mohawk, you know, so for me, that would be encroaching on his gimmick. So when he became Big Daddy V, and you know, at this time now  I’m in a tag team and I went to him, I said, Hey, I thought if I dye my hair blonde, do you mind? He was like, I don’t care. I’m not doing blonde anymore, knock yourself out. So because I had his blessing, I was like, Okay, and what finally, what finally made me pull the trigger on it. I don’t even think he knows this, but Stone Cold had addressed the talent, you know, talking about, you know, coming out of your shell, working hard to be a star like taking risks and all these things. And it was that day like, I’m listening to Stone Cold and I’m going I think there was a hint of asking for forgiveness, not permission. And that day, I was like, I walked out of the meeting, I went to one of the one of the girls, that’s hair like, Hey, would you bleach my hair for me? And I bleached it.”

On the Ain’t No Stopping Me Now theme returning:

“So I have been trying. Fans, anyone listening, I’ve been trying. I’ve asked over and over since the day I got back I’m still trying. I and I just keep going, please. Like I was making it very public that I don’t like my theme music. I want my old music. And like for, you know, for reasons that even I, I don’t know, if I’m even willing to accept that they may be true to me. No, I don’t know if I’m willing to accept that. But, you know, they just haven’t conceded to give me back my own music because I want it too.”

On The Hurt Business:

“The Hurt Business will always be something I hold near and dear, I consider it one of the greatest accomplishments, one of the greatest factions one of the greatest situations. I have nothing but love for The Hurt Business. Like nothing but love. You know, again, with the world being in a situation it was like, and, you know, in a lot of cases, limited talent, you know, for safety, obviously, everything’s understandable. But the company still needed people to step up. Like, yes, we understand what’s going on. But we’re still a business, you know, the show must go on, we need people to step up. And I think myself, Bobby, MVP, and Cedric did exactly that. And like I said what we created, all of us are extremely proud of what we’re able to do expressly during that time when the company really needed something. And like I said, that came out of nowhere, it was a surprise to all of us. And again, it was just such a great time. The biggest regret is that we never were in front of a live crowd.”

On a potential Hurt Business reunion:

“Definitely. First of all, I think they’re there. I think there are more books and novels for The Hurt Business. Personally, you know, because when things as all things do, when things fell apart I don’t think any of us were happy about it. Yeah, we did everything we could. It was above our pay grade, and our job is to perform Yep, the decision-makers have made the decisions. Our job is to perform. So that’s what we do. But at the same time, it’s like, man, we really, really want it to just have that one time we can just walk out in front of an actual crowd. You know, because it’s one thing to know that what you’re doing is getting over when there’s no one around. You know, but we still felt it. So we wanted to you know, we all wanted to experience Okay, The Hurt Business in front of a live crowd. That’s, you know, that’s what we work for it as we live for. Yeah, that adrenaline rush there’s, there’s nothing like it.”

What is Shelton Benjamin Grateful for:

“Health, being the father of two daughters and the life that I have.”

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