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Ign Interviews Shelton Benjamin.
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Old 04 May 2004, 05:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Ign Interviews Shelton Benjamin.

When Shelton Benjamin was growing up, he hated Ric Flair. The kid would boo him from the stands, talk smack to his TV, even hiss at his pictures in magazines.


And now that Benjamin has gotten the chance to wrestle The Nature Boy, he has a new reason to hate the infamous heel.

Chest chops.

"They hurt like hell," Benjamin says with a laugh as he talks about the living legend's trademark -- "Woo!" -- move.

And if wrestling the superstars you grew up loving to hate sounds like a dream come true, you're right, and Benjamin wouldn't have it any other way.

With a push that includes stunning wins over Tripe H, not to mention his days in The World's Greatest Tag Team, right now a future WWE star is dreaming of the day he'll step into the ring against Benjamin, a wrestler poised to takeover the sport, even if his chest is still marked-up with welts from his recent match against Flair.

IGN Sports caught up with Benjamin on a recent day off to talk Nature Boy, chest chops, and the kind of wrestling that doesn't leave a mark, wrestling video games. Here's what the man who recently "walked that aisle" against the man who made aisle walking famous had to say.

IGN Sports: You won the WWE Superstar Challenge two years in a row, so you must have some skills when it comes to playing video games.

Shelton Benjamin: Oh yeah, I'm the king when it comes to playing games around here.



IGN Sports: Who gives you the biggest competition when you guys play on the road?

Shelton Benjamin: Honestly, nobody. Hands down, I'm a god amongst men when it comes to video games. I walk over everybody. I have an ongoing rivalry with Stevie Richards, but I also play against guys like Booker T. and Kane.

IGN Sports: Does your video game "godliness" go back to when you were a kid?

Shelton Benjamin: I go back all the way to Atari where there were just dots and blips. [laughs] I grew up playing video games, especially the wrestling video games. I've always been a wrestling fan, I've always been a video game fan, so you put the two together and it's a no-brainer.

IGN Sports: Do you play games online?

Shelton Benjamin: I'm not really into online gaming because I like to talk smack to guys when I play. I like to see the disappointment in their faces as they sit across from me. Just to hear a voice, it just doesn't do it for me. Besides, as much as I travel, it's just not a good investment. I'm just never home enough to take advantage of it.

IGN Sports: What are your favorite games of all time?

Shelton Benjamin: Number one would be the Tekken series. Two would be the Gran Turismo series. Three would be the WWE Smackdown games. It pretty much goes all over the place from there. I'm really into the Tom Clancy-style games like Splinter Cell, Metal Gear Solid, and SOCOM. I'm into the hardcore stuff. I don't play when it comes to video games.

IGN Sports: Who do you play as in Tekken?


Shelton Benjamin: I'm pretty good with all of the fighters, but my favorites are King and Jin. Those are my first string guys.

IGN Sports: So one-on-one, King steps into the ring against Shelton Benjamin, who is going down?

Shelton Benjamin: King is definitely going down. [laughs] I already know every move and how to counter them.

IGN Sports: Being a fan of the Smackdown series, is there anything that you'd like to see added to the new game that's been missing?

Shelton Benjamin: Last year they took out commentating. And for me, I used to love listening to the commentators during the matches. I think it would be interesting if they could incorporate the commentating from both the Smackdown and Raw shows. I know you can play in either brand, so to have the voices for each brand in the game, would help make it feel more authentic. That was the only thing about the last game that I really didn't like, that they took the announcing out.

IGN Sports: Is there anything about your character in the game that you'd like to see changed?

Shelton Benjamin: Actually, my character is pretty good. I bought the game the day it came out and I played it religiously and got to know my character very well. I was really happy with the way he looked, the way he played. Obviously, me being a singles guy these days, I hope for a few adjustments. There were one or two moves in the game that I've never done, but they were cool to work with. I just want to keep it as true to life as possible.

IGN Sports: Did you ever see a move in the game that you wanted to try in real life?

Shelton Benjamin: There was this one move where my character from a straight standing position kicks the guy in the face. I've been tempted to try that. I think I can pull that one off. Aside from that, I go pretty in-depth in these games and I've been curious about trying some of the moves. One or two of the double team moves, Charlie and I actually got from the game, so that was pretty cool. So I've been inspired by the moves in games, not just from my character, but from scrolling through the moves list in general.

IGN Sports: How about your character in real life? You have to be pretty happy with the direction you're headed now that you're on Raw.

Shelton Benjamin: I'm still in awe of what's been going on for me. I'm actually really surprised. I was a bit worried, as one might guess, when I was split from Charlie, and I wasn't really sure where my career was headed. I wasn't even sure if I was ready to be split from Charlie yet, to be honest, but I'm very happy.

IGN Sports: One minute you were split from Charlie, the next you're beating Triple H on Raw. It doesn't get much better than that.

Shelton Benjamin: [laugh] It's not going to get much better than that. Maybe a win over Benoit for the title, but that's down the road. Right now I'm happy with what I'm doing, and I just hope to keep moving up that ladder.

IGN Sports: I was reading that in college you were Brock Lesnar's teammate and coach. Did you guys always know that the WWE is where you were headed?

Shelton Benjamin: I'm actually a couple of years older than Brock, so I was a heavyweight before he was. So when my eligibility was up, that's when he came in. So for the first year and a half, I was his coach/sparring partner. For about eight months, I pretty much spanked him, then all of a sudden he got really good, really fast, and it wasn't too long before I went from coach to straight sparring partner. Brock is like a sponge, he just picks everything up so fast. Without a doubt, though, becoming a pro wrestler is what I wanted to try. Since the third grade, I watched it religiously, and the older I got, the less interested I was in watching, and the more interested I was in actually participating in it. As fate would have it, I received that chance, and now it's working out really well for me.

IGN Sports: Don't you also have a background in track?


Shelton Benjamin: I national champ in junior college, a track All-American, All High School, All State, all everything in 4x1, 100m, and 200m.

IGN Sports: Sounds like you could follow Brock to the NFL and tryout as a wide receiver.

Shelton Benjamin: Probably not. [laughs] My heart's with wrestling. I had a future in football, but I passed it up. Like I said, my dream is with pro wrestling, not pro football. I'm right where I want to be.

IGN Sports: Did you find it harder to train as an amateur wrestler or as a professional?

Shelton Benjamin: To me, I took to both of them fairly easy. I didn't find one harder than the other. Obviously, there are aspects of pro wrestling that I don't train for when it comes to amateur wrestling, but to me, it isn't that hard. In terms of physicality, pro wrestling is a lot harder on the body, but I wouldn't say it was harder for me to pickup or to learn.

IGN Sports: I know you said you've been watching the sport since third grade. Who were some of your favorite wrestlers growing up?

Shelton Benjamin: The two men that actually got me into wrestling were Magnum TA and Wahoo McDaniel. Other guys, I don't think I've ever known wrestling without the Four Horsemen or the Midnight Express, Rock 'N Roll Express. I grew up watching the old NWA/Crockett Promotions. To me, Ric Flair has always been the man. Hulk Hogan was just that other guy. Other guys like the Steiner Brothers, the Road Warriors, I loved as well. Sting, he was probably my all-time favorite, but that top spot always seems to alternate between him and The Undertaker.

IGN Sports: Is that why you do the Stinger Splash?

Shelton Benjamin: Oh yeah, anyone who watches me and who knows wrestling knows that I've been influenced by Sting. I've watched Sting for years, he was my childhood hero, and I just hope that no one thinks I'm stealing his moves. I just want them to know that I'm paying him a compliment by keeping his moves alive. Imitation is the biggest form of flattery, and I've loved and respected his work for years. This is my way to say thank you.

IGN Sports: So if you could wrestle any of those old legends, would Sting be your top choice?

Shelton Benjamin: I'd love to get a chance, either wrestling against Sting or teaming with him for a match. I always said if I could wrestle anyone it would be Ric Flair because I grew up hating him so much. Then just a couple of weeks ago, that dream came true. Whether people realize it or not, when he was walking down the aisle, I had goose bumps. I was like "Oh my god, I used to watch this guy annihilate people and now he's coming down to face me." I couldn't believe it.

IGN Sports: How do those chops feel?

Shelton Benjamin: I took a lot of chops and let me tell you, they hurt like hell. There's nothing like everyone in the crowd shouting "Woo" as he chops at your chest. I don't care what anyone thinks, that he's just slapping your chest or whatever, but those chops hurt. If the marks on my chest are any indication, those chops are more than just slaps. My chest is starting to throb just thinking about it. [laughs]

IGN Sports: What is the toughest part about being a professional wrestler, besides the welts on your chest, of course?

Shelton Benjamin: All the time away from home, the time away from your family. We're on the road 300 days a year, and that doesn't leave a lot of time for family, your close friends. That's why it's so important that we all bond with each other, because when it comes down to it, we're with each other more than our actual families, so we're all each other's families when we're together.

IGN Sports: What makes spending all that time on the road, all the pain of the sport worth it?

Shelton Benjamin: To me, it's an investment in my future. One, I'm seeing the world for free. I'm being paid to be a big kid and I'm investing in my future, so when I'm in my 60s and 70s, I won't have to worry about all these problems like pensions. I'm smart with my money anyways, and this allows me a chance to provide for my family and give them the opportunity to have a better life than I've had. That's every parents dream. That's what makes it all worth it. It's a sacrifice, but knowing that I'm providing for my family, that's what makes it all worth it.
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