It looks like WWE fans are once again close to seeing the Gold Standard, Shelton Benjamin, returning to the ring, as he’s reportedly signed a new WWE contract, one year after an injury stymied his original plans of rejoining the company.
The report from PWInsider makes no mention of when exactly Benjamin will be making his return to WWE television or which brand he will be appearing on. But it does seem that WWE did make good on its promise to keep the door open for the former Intercontinental Champion, who was supposed to return to WWE after the 2016 brand split, only for things to be called off due to a torn rotator cuff found during the standard physical exam.
The news of Benjamin signing a new WWE contract comes about two months after Pro Wrestling Sheet wrote that he was again talking contract with the company, and about five months after he was given the green light to return to the ring. In between those months, rumors swirled about Benjamin's WWE return drawing nearer, but he easily shot down those rumors in April, saying that he was technically a free agent and that his shoulder injury nixed any plans of signing with WWE in 2016.
Of course, it was little more than a year ago to this day when Benjamin was supposed to make his grand WWE comeback as part of the SmackDown Live brand. According to a report from Daily Wrestling News, the original plan was to give Benjamin a “high mid-card” push, as Vince McMahon and Triple H have been longtime fans of Shelton’s in-ring work. It was also reported that Benjamin was rumored to return alongside his former World’s Greatest Tag Team partner, Charlie Haas, in an effort to bolster SmackDown’s fledgling tag team division at that time.
As mentioned, details on Benjamin's return date and brand affiliation are still unknown as of this writing. But if we are to guess, he might be back on SmackDown Live as originally planned, possibly mentoring or feuding with a younger wrestler who also has a legit amateur wrestling background – did somebody say Chad Gable? Given Benjamin's age (42), we're a bit skeptical that he'll be given a push in the upper mid-card, but someone with his experience and talent could do well in putting over younger talents, much like The Dudleys, Mickie James, and even The Hardy Boyz have upon their celebrated returns to the WWE.
With all that said, welcome back to the WWE, Shelton. We hope you stay healthy and pass your physical this time. And one last thing – we hope you didn't bring your "mama" with you.