It was the day after Christmas but the WWE was still in a giving mood. Monday morning WWE released a video on social media to recognize the 20-year anniversary of Shelton Benjamin’s SmackDown debut. It was a heart-warming clip as his colleagues showered him with praises for his contributions to the promotion. Shelton Benjamin is widely recognized as one of the biggest names WWE failed to utilize his ability, but the wider industry always saw his greatness.
Shawn Michaels, Mia Yim, Molly Holly, Kofi Kingston, Kurt Angle, Cedric Alexander, and Shawn Daivari each brought their best thoughts about Benjamin to the video. They spoke of his abilities in the ring, competing at a high-level 20 years later, and how he inspired them to pursue a career in the industry. From his teaming with Brock Lesnar, his debut on SmackDown, his tag team run with Charlie Hass, his stint in New Japan, and now back within WWE, Benjamin is one of the most consistently effective performers in the industry today.
His run from 2004 – 2005 is one of the highlights of his run. Back then, Benjamin found himself locked into a feud with Triple H, picking up three wins over the champion along the way. He didn’t pick up that title during Triple H’s “Reign of Terror,” but a few months later he did secure his first singles title with a win over Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship.
Benjamin’s decorated career featured several runs as singles and tag team champions but never reached the spot at the top of the roster that fans hoped he would achieve. He cut a path that individuals like Kingston, Bobby Lashley, and Big E were able to follow before being elevated to championship status. Fans are more vocal today to see wrestling better represent the diverse nature of its viewers, that wasn’t the case when Benjamin was at his peak. If he was enjoying that type of run today, there’s no doubt that he would be a champion in the biggest promotions the industry has to offer.
WWE made the right decision to highlight Shelton Benjamin on an important anniversary such as 20 years with the company. Few individuals reach that milestone, and Benjamin is one of those names that garnered a lot of praise from peers and fans alike. Michaels hinted at a Hall of Fame induction waiting for him, and rightfully so. Here’s to hoping that Benjamin gets one more run as a top threat before he calls it a career.