Guest: Shelton Benjamin sits down with X-Pac
Release Date: February 28th, 2018
Recap by: Sean McGraw
X-Pac is joined by Jimbo, Denise, Bill and TK. This week’s guest will be Shelton Benjamin.
The panel starts off with a discussion of the Elimination Chamber Match. They all liked the aesthetic changes to the chamber itself like the overhead camera and making the chamber bigger. X-Pac says that he really enjoyed the Women’s Chamber Match. The women seemed to use the chamber itself better and the match really furthered storylines well. Alexa Bliss’ post-match promo was great where she teased a turn and went back on it full tilt. X-Pac says that it’s really great when you can be fooled in wrestling these days. Alexa Bliss really earned her money that night.
Asuka vs. Nia was a great match. Asuka is really great and can tell any story in the ring. X-Pac says that the good thing about her is that the people are finally starting to get with her. That wasn’t happening at first. It probably took a good month or so after coming up from NXT. That seems to be the standard now with NXT talent. They are brought up and don’t seemed to be as hyped as they were coming in back in the day with vignette packages and things.
They discuss how Sonya Deville is a positive role model for a next generation of people. She hasn’t had a lot of time in NXT so she is developing on the main roster, yet she still participated in the first Women’s Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber matches. The fact that she is openly gay is also another thing for people to look up to. It’s a sign that both women’s wrestling and wrestling in general is progressing to where it needs to be in this day and age.
The panel expressed a little disappointment in the crowd at their lack of interest in the Woken Matt vs. Bray Wyatt match. The crowd seemed to be more interested in doing the wave, playing with beach balls, and chanting “Rusev Day.” It was good to see that Matt was able to play along with them – trying to turn a bad situation into a small positive.
Shelton Benjamin Interview
The interview starts off with X-Pac and Shelton Benjamin discussing Shelton’s training. X-Pac wants to know Shelton’s thoughts on starting out under Jim Cornette. Shelton was a little star struck when he first met Cornette. He says he thought that he was getting to the big time because Cornette is a legendary figure in wrestling history.
Shelton says that his time in OVW couldn’t have been any better. The staff was great in getting him prepared for his career. Shelton says that he has been low-maintenance to no maintenance. He says he’s very easy going and gets along with everybody. X-Pac agrees and says that he’s never heard one story about Shelton. Shelton laughs and jokes maybe it’s time that he starts causing some trouble. Shelton says that he grew up poor and was given the chance of a lifetime being in WWE. He wasn’t going to let anything or anybody screw that up for him. There was only one time that Shelton can recall that he went off on somebody. Apparently Randy Orton made a snide remark one time and Shelton got hot. Nothing really came of it and it blew over really quickly. Shelton wasn’t going to risk what he saw as a golden opportunity over silliness.
X-Pac recalls meeting Shelton for the first time. Shelton says that he was a big time fan and was really star struck. Meeting Big Show for the first time was quite the experience. “When he went to shake my hand the first thing I did, like, was turn his hand over, like, Wow! This is a huge hand!” Shelton says he was a fan that had an all-access pass to everyone.
X-Pac says that Jerry Brisco told Pac that Shelton was the better of the two between him and Brock. Shelton chuckles and says that Jerry likes to stir stuff up. X-Pac says that Jerry also stirred up the thing between Brock and Kurt on the plane ride from hell. X-Pac said that Brock went to Jerry asking for some advice on how to deal with Kurt and Jerry told him not to take any s**t from Angle. The next thing you know, the two of them are going at it.
Shelton goes on to talk about how people don’t realize that Brock and Shelton were in the same weight class as amateurs and that Brock was coming in to Minnesota to take Shelton’s place on the team. They had to wrestle each other every day because Shelton was still there as a coach. Shelton says that Brock’s greatest gift was his explosiveness. Shelton never wrestled anybody with as much explosiveness as Brock. “He wasn’t a technical marvel, he didn’t have to be. He was explosive. He was strong, but he was also an extremely hard worker and was always willing to learn, and there was no quit in the guy.”
X-Pac asks Shelton if he ever thought about going to the Olympics. Shelton had. He went to the training center and they wanted him to do Greco-Roman style wrestling. Shelton always saw himself as more of a freestyle wrestler. He figured he would train though and he got to work with Rulon Gardner and Matt Ghaffari. Shelton says that although he was training for the Olympics, his heart was never in it. He had always wanted to be in WWE.
X-Pac asks Shelton if he started amateur wrestling because he wanted to be a professional wrestler. Shelton says ABSOLUTELY! Shelton says that when he was first coaxed into going to wrestling he got to practice and wondered where the ring was. He thought that they were going in there and going to be learning how to throw dropkicks. X-Pac wants to know if they ever did pro-wrestling matches in the wrestling room. Shelton says they did pro-wrestling stuff all of the time, everywhere. He’d run around with cardboard belts and have matches for them.
X-Pac marvels at the graduating class that Shelton was in from OVW. Shelton agrees and lists all of the names. It was Shelton, Cena, Orton, and Batista. For the Women it was Victoria, Nidia, and Jazz. Big Show and Mark Henry were there for a while. Shelton says they were so good because they were over-prepared. They all felt like they had to make each other better. They were supportive and respectful of each other and really good friends. They felt like they had to be good before they went to the main roster, so that WWE would keep calling up from that territory as opposed to the other developmental territories that were running at the time. Shelton adds that for a while he thought Randy was going to get fired because he was Randy (I’m assuming he means that Randy did a lot of stupid stuff back when he was younger), Batista was always hurt so he thought that he was fragile. He says that he was on board with them at first, but obviously his opinion changed. Shelton says that he stopped doing dropkicks because Randy Orton did them so perfectly that Shelton didn’t want his own to look bad.
X-Pac says that Shelton is King of the Money in the Bank spots. He asks Shelton how they come up with all of the crazy spots. Shelton says it was completely accidental. He was the new guy amongst a bunch of established stars the first year. He was late coming to the planning of the match because of other commitments so most of it was planned out by the time he got there. Every time the guys asked Shelton if he could do something he would say yep and show them he could. There wasn’t an idea that they came up with that he couldn’t do. He said that at the time he was thinking that this was the type of things that he would do at home and his mom would whip him for – running up ladders, flipping over things, etc.
X-Pac asks Shelton if wrestling came easy to him. Shelton says the physical stuff for sure. They’d show him something once and he got it. He says it was extremely easy, maybe too easy. Even in matches where he was “supposed to be nervous” because that was what his training was for. X-Pac asks Shelton if he ever got the butterflies before big matches like WrestleMania matches and is amazed when Shelton says no.
In Shelton’s head he knew that he could do it so he wasn’t nervous. He says maybe that rubbed some people the wrong way. In his mind the big time matches were his way of showing his talent. Shelton says he wasn’t a natural talker so he had to show that he could hang with the top guys physically. The one thing that Shelton noticed whenever he worked with a top guy – Shawn, Triple H, Jericho, and Taker – was that it was always easier. Their psychology is so good and they are good leaders so it was easy. Shelton then says he can only remember two times that he actually was nervous – the first time he wrestled Ric Flair and the first time he had a match with Taker.
Shelton says that he has the utmost respect for Taker and Triple H and guys like that. He says he has even more respect for guys that haven’t had the same levels of success. Shelton says it takes a lot to be a giver. The guys whose job it is to build stars. It shows a real love for the business. “It’s real easy to love the business when the business is you got the rocket strapped. It’s an even bigger love for the business when you’re getting the crumbs but you’re saying ‘I’m going to stay in it’.”
X-Pac asks Shelton about his return to the WWE. What happened with the physical? Shelton says that when the injury happened he knew something was wrong, but he went to see the doctor and got a cortisone shot that fooled him. Maybe it wasn’t that bad and that he was just sore. When he went into the physical he couldn’t do some simple tests which had him confused because he was still benching 350lbs. no problem. X-Pac says that he was glad to finally see him in WWE and being partnered with Chad Gable. Shelton chuckles and says that he didn’t see that coming. He said that American Alpha got a lot of comparison to The World’s Greatest Tag Team. Fans would tweet it at him so much that it became annoying. The first time he met Chad he jokingly asked, “Are you guys as sick of us as we are of you?” He thought it was an interesting pairing, but he said “we’ll see where this goes.”
X-Pac says that things have changed a lot since the first time Shelton was in WWE. Shelton jokes that yeah he was young the first time. He says that a lot of things have changed, but a lot has stayed the same and he’s just here living his dream. He’s been living his dream his whole career. X-Pac asks if there are any dreams that he hasn’t chased yet. Shelton says that there are little things, like being in a movie – maybe not the lead, but in a starring role. Shelton brings up that he’s been in a movie before. He was an extra in Father’s Day which starred Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. He got paid $75 and says that to a poor college student that probably felt like $1000.
X-Pac asks what ever came about with the loaded gun in the rental car incident. Shelton says that Budget has reached out to him a few times and has offered him certain compensations. Shelton is ok with that because all things being considered it ended up fine and he’s safe. Plus the weapon is off the street and since the owner obviously wasn’t responsible with it that owner shouldn’t be allowed to have the gun. Shelton says that he actually got pulled over for speeding while he had the car. He says luckily he has good “police etiquette.” It could have been way worse had he gone into the glove compartment for something because there’s no way you could explain that. X-Pac agrees and compares it to when he was arrested in the airport for crystal meth. He can understand why somebody wouldn’t believe him.
X-Pac ends the interview by asking how much longer Shelton plans to keep wrestling. Shelton says that he doesn’t want to overstay his welcome, but he’ll stay for as long as the checks keep clearing!
I really enjoyed this episode. I found the interview with Shelton fascinating. This interview showed a side of Shelton that we aren’t usually privy to because as he said in the interview he isn’t the strongest talker in the world. The thing that really endears me to Shelton is the fact that not only can he do some amazing things in the ring, but he comes off as really down to earth and humble. Like he said, he’s confident in his abilities. In the interview that translates into him not needing to talk himself up too much or downplay what he has done. I found it interesting hearing Shelton talk about his experiences training in both amateur wrestling and in OVW. There was a lot of talent that he developed with and he has a unique view on the business because of that. This episode was really good because it gave me an opportunity to learn about a guy that isn’t very outspoken in a business full of talkers and I appreciate that.
00:00 – 25:06 Intros and Elimination Chamber Discussion
25:50 – 1:12:04 Shelton Benjamin Interview
1:12:05 – 1:16:24 Show Wrap Up
Sean is a media professional from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sean’s earliest memory of wrestling is seeing Kane on WWF television in 1998. Sean watched primarily WWF in the Attitude Era and dropped off just before the initial brand split. Seeing recap promos of the Undertaker building up to WrestleMania 20, he became hooked and has been an avid fan ever since. Sean’s wrestling preferences currently lean more towards NJPW/ROH/NXT but he remains a fan of it all. In his spare time Sean enjoys cooking, baking, and going to the gym. You can follow Sean via Twitter @stmcgraw and Instagram @stmcgraw09.