In 2002, WWE’s ‘Ruthless Aggression’ era kicked off with multiple top stars joining the main roster of the company after graduating from the OVW developmental territory. These included John Cena, Randy Orton, and Brock Lesnar, three stars who have spent years at the pinnacle of WWE.
John Cena made a huge impression on his debut against Kurt Angle and quickly became one of the top stars in the company. Meanwhile, Randy Orton eventually found his place as part of the Triple H-led Evolution faction, while Brock Lesnar was referred to as “The Next Big Thing”.
Brock Lesnar more than lived up to the moniker, blasting his way through the company in record time, first winning King of the Ring and then becoming the youngest WWE Champion by defeating The Rock at SummerSlam four months after making his debut.
However, there was another man in the same class who is often overlooked despite his own skills in the ring, Shelton Benjamin.
Jim Ross explains why Shelton Benjamin didn’t see the success of his classmates
On a recent edition of his Grilling JR podcast, the WWE veteran and current AEW commentator Jim Ross discussed what Benjamin was lacking compared to the likes of Brock Lesnar and John Cena.
“I liked it. I liked them a lot. Shelton was in that one all-star class that we signed that included Lesnar and Batista and Cena, and Orton.
“Shelton by far [was] the best pure athlete of the group that caught it quicker, that got it, so to speak, was Shelton. Shelton’s issues were always the fact that he, charisma-wise, just didn’t directly connect to the audience. But athletically speaking, you know, Shelton needed a manager, Shelton needed a mouthpiece to help him move, move the needle a little bit.”
Shelton Benjamin finally got his big break on the main roster when he teamed up with Kurt Angle and Charlie Haas to form Team Angle. Ross was a fan of the team, saying they had a lot of credibility.
“So, Shelton finally got a little break there, which I was very happy for. You know, Charlie Haas is an Oklahoma kid from Edmond Oklahoma. And so I have a special place in my heart for him. And, of course, Kurt was one of our signees.
“I just thought that pairing had a lot of chemistry and had a lot of symmetry and had a lot of credibility. So I enjoyed that presentation a great deal for many different reasons.”
While recently discussing the same all-star OVW class, Matt Hardy revealed that he believes Brock Lesnar had the most pivotal career out of any of his classmates.
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