At the height of his WWE career, Shelton Benjamin was a solid mid-card performer who won three Intercontinental Championships, one United States Championship and a pair of Tag Team Titles. But Benjamin never fully got over with the crowd, and never became a main event star.
Benjamin displayed tremendous in-ring ability, and the T-Bone Suplex always electrified the crowd. So why didn’t Benjamin ever “get over” and become a pay-per-view headliner? Legendary WWE commentator Jim Ross has an idea.
Appearing on the Unsanctioned Podcast, Ross talked about Benjamin’s talents, and why he didn’t break through as a big star:
“Part of that is Shelton’s fault. He was making really good money, he had a really good spot on the team, but he wasn’t at the top of the roster, but when he worked with a top guy, he killed it.
But when he got his opportunities, maybe they were ill-timed or he was ill-prepared, whatever, he didn’t hit a home run on a mic as he hit in the ring. So we needed to protect him or fix that. But, here’s the thing nowadays, it’s not a 100 percent, but I can say at least 90, if you’re not talking, you’re not getting over.”
Mic skills have become just as crucial as wrestling ability and character presentation for WWE superstars. Roman Reigns and Cesaro are among the two most talented and athletic wrestlers, but both haven’t gotten fully over – due to their monotone mic skills.
It was easy for mediocre wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior to get over, largely due to their iconic promos and ability to talk themselves up to the crowd. But for superstars like Benjamin, a lack of ability to nail promos could have been the reason Vince McMahon never pushed him.
Nonetheless, Benjamin has been far from a failure in the WWE. His current stint with the company hasn’t been all that successful – but he has a legacy set as one of the better all-around superstars of the Ruthless Aggression Era.
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