Shelton Benjamin

Shelton Benjamin On His WWE Release, Hurt Business Ending Too Soon, HBK Match, Max Caster Comments

Shelton Benjamin (@Sheltyb803) is a professional wrestler best known for his time in WWE. He sits down with Chris Van Vliet in Houston, TX to talk about his WWE release and what the future holds, whether or not he would consider a return, the possibility of signing with AEW or TNA, why he thinks he is the opposite of John Cena, responds to Max Caster’s comments about him on social media, being called underrated, his epic match on Raw with Shawn Michaels, why he thinks The Hurt Business never should have ended, how much longer he intends to wrestle and more!

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On if the WWE release was a surprise:

“Yes and no. Yes, because I don’t think, I know there was more for me to do there. There were more opportunities there and I’m more surprised that they chose not to take advantage of those opportunities. But I also knew that if they weren’t going to do anything then it’s just a matter of time. We got a lot of talent there, a lot of rotation, I’ve been there for a long time. I understand it’s a business. So yeah, it sucks for me but at the end, at the end of the day, it’s a business.”

Why not keep you around?

“Honestly, that’s the question you have to ask them. Obviously, I’m more than happy to be around. But again, I just look at everything as a business decision. I don’t take anything personally. Yes, I’m just as disappointed as most people but at the end at the end of the day, it’s the job, gotta move on. You have to move on eventually. And again, like I said, I put about 18 combined years with WWE, so I’ve been there a long time. Sometimes yeah, you just need to move on.”

On not being that surprised by the release phone call:

“I had a hint. When they did the whole recruiting thing, when I wasn’t assigned to a show that was kind of my first this doesn’t feel right moment. Then as time went on, you tried to have conversations and things like that nothing’s really gaining traction. And again, you get the hints So when the call actually came. I kind of figured. I wasn’t that surprised. I was surprised, but I wasn’t that surprised.”

Was there any talk of being a producer?

“There was talk of me possibly becoming a trainer at some point. I don’t think that door has closed. I just haven’t pursued it yet. [You still want to wrestle?] Yes, I love training people. I love teaching, and that comes from my amateur wrestling background. But at this point, I still think a little selfishly, I feel like I have a few more things that I’d like to accomplish. So while yes, I definitely am interested. I have to put aside my own ambitions to really be able to do that job correctly. And right now, at least today, I’m not ready to not think a little selfishly.”

On still being able to go:

“I’ve got tonnes left in the tank. It’s just a matter of whether or not anyone wants to use it. Like I said, I’m always going to be synonymous with WWE. But I’m open to be anywhere.”

On interest from AEW or TNA?

“I had a brief conversation with AEW, that hasn’t really borne fruit yet. But I’m still open. TNA I haven’t spoken with yet. I’m more than willing to work with them. I haven’t talked to them. I know MLW reached out. So you know, I’ve been presented with options. I just haven’t found something that I’m satisfied with.”

On Max Caster being against Shelton Benjamin being in AEW?

“[Laughs] I guess my first thought was Who is this? I’m like, I really don’t know him. I have nothing against him, as far as I know I’ve never met him. I was more shocked that he would say something like that. And again, I don’t know him, I don’t have a relationship with him.”

On the fear of a spot being taken:

“So to that I will say one, you’re already on your roster and whatever you’re doing there, if you’re not happy, then you need to change that, I’m still on the outside, at this point I’m really no threat to you. But if I were to come in, someone with my name, you looking at me as a threat rather than an asset. Yeah, I’m because one, if I were to say go to any company, to me, my job there is to, again, bring more fans put more eyes on you. And my thing is I want to work with these people. So, at this stage in my career, I want to help other talent. So if you’re looking at this as Oh, you’re stealing my spot? Well, first of all, if I can steal it, that wasn’t your spot. I can’t take Roman Reigns’s spot, I can’t take Swerve’s spot, I can’t take anyone’s spot. However, you can lose your spot. That’s how that’s how I look at it. If I were to come there or anywhere, there’s a reason I’m being brought in. And I would think is to help grow the company and help bring more eyes there. So if anything, you would think you should welcome in old established talent. Because that gives you another opportunity to work with someone who can elevate you so that that spot that you’re so afraid of losing? It helps you secure it, because now you’re working with people who elevate your game, you’re working with people with experience, you’re working with people who fans know, and will tune in to watch because I don’t know anyone running around with Max Caster merch, I don’t know anyone. He’s not a household name.” 

On going back to WWE:

“I would definitely consider it. Like I said, it’s the biggest game in town. So because I’ve worked there for so long, to answer your question, Yes I will go back if they offered me a position back and the right amount of money. Yes, of course, I will go back and I’ve said it before you’d be a fool not to at least consider it. Because I look at pro wrestling as a business. I love it, but it’s a business. So despite everything that’s happened, despite people’s opinion on creatively how they viewed me, it’s still a business to me. I look at wrestling as a business. So I will make the best business decision, not personal decision.”

On The Hurt Business suddenly breaking up:

“To this day. When I spoke to Vince and I asked him why and his comment was we’ve gone as far as we can with The Hurt Business. I’ve had a few, quite a few conversations with Mr. McMahon, and that was the first time that I could look at him and go, Okay, now you’re blowing smoke, that’s bull. But that’s also when I was like, Okay I don’t see much happening here. At least right now.” 

On being undervalued:

“I would say undervalued. Mainly because I think, to your point, most people know I can have great matches with anyone. But great matches are not necessarily the most important thing in WWE. In New Japan, I don’t think I was undervalued. In Ring of Honor, I don’t think I was undervalued. Because they really push wrestling. Like that’s what’s at the forefront. In WWE, there’s a lot of glitz and glamour. While it was, pro wrestling, the entertainment aspect of it. I’m an athlete first and I’m fine with that. But because of that, it’s like yeah, the guys who were a little more theatrical is just valued more there because it’s easier to market. And I understand that. I don’t like it. But I understand it.”

On feeling like he is the opposite of John Cena:

“No, no, I didn’t [fight for myself]. Because I felt like my work should speak for itself and I didn’t want to fight for myself. I knew what my strengths were I knew my weaknesses were and obviously I tried to work on them. But at the end of the day, it’s like, sometimes, once you’re typecasted or pigeonholed into one idea, no matter what you do they won’t let you out of that. I know I used to get so much slack from my promo work and it’s like yes, I was horrible that one time and then like I said, I improved. But while I improved, I still wasn’t as flashy. I will say I’m the anti-Cena because in a wrestling match in a move-for-move, whatever, he can’t hold a candle to me. But when it comes to mic skills. I’m at the shallow end of the gene pool. I just think what he brought to the table they valued more. Or Even my look, I was in the land of giants and when you got a guy like Brock, it’s really hard to stand out when standing next to Brock, and a Batista. So while I always had a great physique and things like that. Again, you got these monsters around you, it’s really easy to [stand out], because it’s also visual, our audience is visual. So, I don’t want to call them shortcomings because they weren’t shortcomings. It’s just a matter of what the company valued at the time.”

On his biggest regret:

“I was taught to just, again, let your work speak for itself. I’m not going to go argue for a spot, I’m not going to go cry for a spot. I’m just going to keep doing my job to the best of my abilities and whatever you asked me to do is like, Okay, I’m just going to do it. It’s been very rare that I said, No, I’m definitely not going to do that. There’s only one thing I can really look back at and go, I wish I never had done that, the Yoshi Tatsu promo on ECW. That is, to me the biggest black eye of my career. Just because quite frankly, it was just racist. It didn’t reflect who I was then it doesn’t reflect who I am now. And literally, from the moment I did it, or when we did that segment, I hated it. I love the story. Because, you know, he kicked me in the head and beat me in two seconds. That’s exactly how that story should end. Just to find out that sometimes I’ll see that pop up. And I’m like, that’s the one thing I wish I would have put my foot down and go, I’m not doing this.”

On Billy Gunn:

“I don’t know. I mean, I see guys like Billy Gunn is what 60? By the way, Billy Gunn is the greatest athlete in pro wrestling, period. Because if you want to judge athletes, you want to judge the greatest, you can’t look at it from when they’re in their prime, you got to look at the entire career. Who’s done it. Who’s been as athletic as long, high quality matches, as long as Billy? Billy, like I said all the time, Billy on TV, David Banner, Billy in person to Hulk. Like he’s phenomenal. I consider Billy Gunn, the greatest athlete ever in wrestling. But again, it’s because of his longevity.”

On how much longer he intends to wrestle:

“I’m pretty sure I could do two [years] easy, five depending on the schedule. But I also don’t want to overstay my welcome. I’ve been doing this a long time. Again, there’s going to come a time I have to stop thinking selfishly and look at things like as far as the wrestling business go, where am I bigger benefit, in the ring or behind the scenes? Right now I still feel like I can be a huge contributor in the ring. Definitely can still be behind the scenes, but again, this has to be in the right place before I can do that. And that’s definitely coming. I will say that’s definitely on the horizon. But right now, I still feel like I got a little more I can give.”

What is Shelton Benjamin grateful for?

“My children, my health and that I still have a good reputation in the business.”

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