What's Preventing Shelton Benjamin from Becoming a True Player

Ryan MichaelSenior Writer IIIJune 20, 2009

When I look across the landscape of the WWE Universe, oftentimes I direct my focus towards sifting out the over-rated and separating them from the under-rated.

Enter Shelton Benjamin.

Perhaps never before has there been a competitor so incredibly athletic. His physical capabilities alone should catapult him to a stratosphere where few others belong.

After all, isn't professional wrestling supposed to be an athletic line of work? More importantly, shouldn't the industry's greatest athlete take his rightful place among the WWE's elite?

The answer, quite simply, is no. Not yet anyway.

Before I delve into my personal opinion, understand first that Shelton Benjamin is one of my favorite wrestlers. He's exciting to watch in the ring, and the fact that he is a very talented heel makes watching him all the sweeter.

The problem is, there is much more to being a main-event WWE Superstar than what Shelton Benjamin appears to offer.

For better or worse, the WWE values entertainment over athleticism.

Of course, there has to be something of a balance if you hope to compete at any legitimate level, but the WWE puts a great emphasis on character development.

That is the area in which Shelton has failed to evolve.

He's physically gifted, has good entrance music, and is a solid finisher, but what Shelton has failed to do is develop his character to a point where he can get over as either a face or heel.

It's not so much that he isn't hungry, which is something that I've heard some people speculate about. At least he's no less hungry than a guy like CM Punk or Jeff Hardy.

Heels have a much harder time displaying a championship-hunger.

We know that Shelton is more than qualified to hold the Intercontinental Championship. He was also more than qualified to hold the ECW Championship when he was in ECW.

If he hopes to become a World Heavyweight Champion, the WWE is going to need to push Shelton hard. The bigger trouble is going to be seeing Shelton prove that he deserves it.

It's not that he's not physically gifted enough to deserve it; he is. It's not that he isn't hard-working enough to deserve it; he is.

Shelton Benjamin needs to be entertaining enough to become a World Champion. Shelton Benjamin needs to be as good on the mic and with his character progression as he is in the ring. If he ever reached that level, there would be few people that could hang with Mr. Benjamin.

The problem is, he's already 33 years old, and if he were going to reach that level, it's likely that he would have done so already.

Who's to blame? I'm not really sure.

In some ways, it almost seems as if his role of being the purely athletic Superstar has somewhat held him back. His character has has been built around 90 percent athletic ability and 10 percent character.

I wouldn't close the door on Shelton Benjamin just yet, but I do believe that there is little chance that we'll ever see him reach his full potential.

One thing they need to do, at the very least, is push him as a very legitimate mid-card contender, and the best way to do that is to put the Intercontinental Title on him.

Then again, perhaps that's the same problem he's been facing for most of his career: the fact that we know he is a solid mid-card competitor, while none of us have ever seen how he'd fair on a grander stage.

Could we possibly see Shelton Benjamin at least compete for the World Title?

I'd say that if his character develops and he shows the hunger needed to carry that push, we might get a better idea of what Shelton Benjamin's full potential might be.

That is, if the WWE will ever let it happen.