It's that time of the week again! No, I'm not talking about the final week before WrestleMania 27, but rather the fourth edition in my weekly series, WWE's Pushed to Punished. The past three editions can be reached here:
For new readers, my Pushed to Punished articles cover past and present WWE Superstars who received a soaring push in their career, only to lead to their downfall.
Tonight, I cover a critically-acclaimed athlete who has received much praise over the last year due to his release from World Wrestling Entertainment: the Gold Standard, Shelton Benjamin.
Where better to start than when his stock began to rise? This came in late November 2007, where Benjamin was sent to the ECW band following a lackluster tenure on the RAW brand.
Upon his arrival, the newly repackaged "Gold Standard" made an immediate impact, ranking wins over Tommy Dreamer, CM Punk, and also competing in the Royal Rumble Match and Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania 24.
He also began a brief rivalry with newcomer Kofi Kingston, trading victories over each man's undefeated streak. This would lead to a tremendous Extreme Rules rubber match during June 2008 that would be won by Kofi Kingston.
WWE management must of liked what they saw, given his long-awaited push after years after laying low in the mid-card. The Gold Standard would be sent to SmackDown via the 2008 Supplemental Draft, living up to his moniker and becoming United States Champion by defeating Matt Hardy at the Great American Bash.
The interest in Benjamin's skills would certainly take off for the rest of the year, as he even participated in the WWE Championship Scramble Match at Unforgiven 2008. He would bring more prestige to the U.S. gold, defending it numerous times against Jeff Hardy, Gregory Helms, and R-Truth.
2008 was certainly the year of the Gold Standard, even going toe-to-toe with the Undertaker on multiple occasions. Maybe it was his mic skills, or perhaps a backstage attitude, but whatever the tragic flaw, it would soon catch up with Benjamin at the start of 2009.
Weeks prior to WrestleMania 25, Shelton Benjamin lost his United States Championship to MVP, ending his consecutive eight months as champion and the beginning of a newfound losing streak. For the next three months, Benjamin would go winless on the blue brand.
In order to refreshen his treatment, officials thought it was wise to send the Gold Standard back to ECW. There, he was given the "Christian treatment" by virtually winning every match or feud he was involved in, although he was never successful in winning the ECW Championship from Christian.
However, his winning streak did him no such good, as he was sent back to SmackDown in the same position he was before. Shortly after qualifying for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania 26, Benjamin would resort back to a Superstars fixture.
After his obvious loss at the Show of Shows, the Gold Standard would make one last appearance on the following SmackDown in a backstage segment with new World Heavyweight Champion Jack Swagger. Unfortunately, he would be released on April 22, 2010 along with five other talents.
His controversial departure would become a hot topic amongst the IWC, due to his star-studded potential and being one of the best pure athletes in WWE history. Benjamin certainly could have become World Champion, but in my opinion, it was his promo skills that got in the way.
But is that any reason to release a guy over it? It could be debated WWE has mistreated many African-Americans over the years, and this is a perfect example.
Benjamin's name once again became a hop topic among the IWC after hearing he participated in a dark match against Curt Hawkins at a SmackDown taping. His pop was well-received, and he obviously still has it.
Due to popular demand, is it possible we could see the Gold Standard return to the WWE sooner rather than later? If he wasn't released by this tragic flaw made by WWE management, where do think Benjamin would stand today in the new youth movement?
By this point, you should know the routine; make sure to leave your thoughts in comments on my latest edition in the series. Don't forget to add your criticism on how my work as it's much appreciated in planning future articles. GSM out.
Visit my website at Next Era Wrestling for more of GSM's writings, along with WWE/TNA news, recaps, and more.