As noted, WWE SmackDown Live's Shelton Benjamin was recently a guest on E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness. Among many other things, Benjamin opened up about his WWE return, his WrestleMania goals, the rotator cuff injury that delayed his WWE return, and teaming with Chad Gable. Also, Benjamin made a supposed correction to a story The Usos told about being in the ring with Benjamin and Charlie Haas early on in the twins' pro wrestling journey.
According to Benjamin, he knew he would return to WWE eventually despite being released by Titan Tower back in 2010.
"Oh, it's awesome [to be back with WWE]. It's one of those things where I'd have nights where I'd dream that I was back [in WWE] and wake up like, 'nope, still on the indies.' But it was always something that I felt I would be back. It wasn't even something I questioned whether or not I would be back. It was the when and seven years is long enough."
Benjamin said, "long-term, I always felt like I was going to come back. I love to give these guys crap, but in my head, I go, 'look, they hired Cryme Tyme twice. If they don't hire me back at some point, there is really something going on there.' So with that in mind, I was fairly confident that I'd be back."
Moreover, Benjamin admitted that he got emotional from the pop he received upon returning to WWE.
"Oh, man. Even though I heard from the back… we were live when we did the little backstage thing and I heard that response and I was blown away. Like, I was so [touched]. I mean, you've got to contain it a little. At the same time, I was a kid in a candy store, 'they love me - they really love me!'"
Benjamin reflected, "the ovation I got when I did come back, it was very emotional for me. It was great. That's all I can put it - it was great."
On the subject of teaming with Gable, Benjamin acknowledged that he is "pretty excited" about it and that being in a tag team a good way for him to get reacclimated to WWE.
"I'm actually pretty excited about it because, obviously, I wasn't sure what we were going to do as far as my return goes. And I think, obviously, I have Twitter, and the internet, and everything else, and for the last few years, I would always get all the time how [Jason] Jordan and Gable remind people of me and Charlie, so of course, I'm like, 'but they aren't me and Charlie,' right?"
Benjamin explained, "I had no idea I would be teaming with him. It's one of those things. It's really a good way to bring me back in. I think it'll be fun to get to know him, and to learn to play off of him, figure out our strengths and weaknesses because we're actually two different power wrestlers from different eras. I'm actually excited like everyone else to see what we can do."
Although Benjamin did not have designs on tagging again in WWE, he told Gable 'The Gold Standard' is not there to sit around and collect a paycheck.
"I've told him, 'I'm here and I'm not here to collect a check.' I'm not that guy. Obviously, at this point of my career, a lot of guys would just be happy to have a job. I'm not one of those people. I'm grateful to have a job, but I'm still here to compete. I still have goals that I want to achieve and I want to earn my keep and then some."
In Benjamin's recollection, the incident with The Usos where The World's Greatest Tag Team took liberties with the twins way back when 'The Bloodline' was just a trickle, even before they were given WWE contracts.
"Before shows, me and Charlie would get in the ring with extras and work out, and do all these things in the ring because that's what I was programmed to do. I figured I was strong enough. I lifted Big Show once and I'm like, 'if I can lift him, I'm good.'"
Benjamin continued, "the misconception when they say their first week on the road, the misconception when most people hear that is that their first week on the road as WWE Superstars and the truth is, they're referring to when they first got on the road, their uncle, Umaga, brought them to Houston [Texas] and we worked out with them. This was long before The Usos even had a [WWE] tryout. That's how long that was going on. Most people think it was after they had their first tryout. No, this is before they were even signed. So yeah, they were pretty easy to intimidate them because they had no clue what they were getting into, especially with Charlie!"
When asked about his WrestleMania goals, Benjamin explained that he would like to be in some kind of title picture around WrestleMania season.
"Provided we're still a tag team [by] then, I'm thinking go in the champs, come out the champs. That's my attitude as far as WrestleMania goes, but, obviously, we don't know. We don't know the future yet, at least I don't. So any other thing, I would love to be in some sort of title hunt or some kind of title defense. And like I said, I'm aiming for the stars here. My attitude is I don't have time to play around. I don't have years to waste. I don't have years to experiment. I want it and I want it now."
With respect to the rotator cuff injury that sidelined Benjamin, The University Of Minnesota Golden Gopher worked 2.5 months with the injury before finding out about it.
"I tore my rotator two-and-a-half… well, a month-and-a-half before I got the call [from WWE]. I had no idea it was torn. I thought I was hurt, not injured, so I was still wrestling in Japan on a full schedule for two-and-a-half months after that. And my shoulder was sore, but at the time, I'm not thinking rotator cuff because I was still throwing guys across the ring. Doing all my stuff, I didn't feel hindered, just sore afterwards and after 17 years how could I not be?"
During the interview, Benjamin divulged that WWE started promoting his return before he officially signed.
"Yeah, and that's the crazy thing. I don't know if it was the combination [of WWE running return vignettes prematurely], but when they ran that first vignette, and this was before we crossed all of our Ts and dotted all of our Is." Benjamin added, "in my head, on one hand, I figured, 'well, with my reputation, they would feel confident in running that, but at the same time, I'm like, 'why would they do that before we signed everything?' I hadn't even done the physical yet."
Benjamin, who only discovered the injury from enter into WWE's recruitment or signing process, claimed that finding out about the injury was a 'blessing in disguise'.
"I took it as a blessing in disguise because had they'd not contacted me, had they not sent me in to do a physical, I probably would have kept working until my shoulder completely gave out on me. And who know how much worse I could've made it? So it was a blessing in disguise. I mean, the timing sucked and what was at stake, all of that falling through for the moment, that sucked."
Also on this edition of E&C's Pod, Mrs. Edge talked about the Mae Young Classic and TOMMAY Dreamer discussed his signature Subway sandwich. If you use any of the quotes that appear in this article, please credit E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness