Shelton Benjamin’s return to WWE — which the company hyped last summer on SmackDown LIVE — was nixed for the time being when it was determined that he was suffering from a torn rotator cuff and had to undergo surgery to repair it. Now, however, the accomplished grappler is ready to return to the ring.
In his first match since last July, Benjamin will take on Mike Orlando this Friday at Brii Combination Wrestling’s “World War 360” event in Elmhurst, New York. According to his Twitter account, this will be the first of many wrestling appearances he has lined up.
As far as WWE is concerned, Benjamin took to Twitter earlier this week to clear up any confusion regarding his status with the organization.
“Let me clear this up now. I am not signed to @WWE,” Benjamin wrote. “I never signed due to injury. While that could change, as of 4-16-2017 I am a free agent.”
— Shelton J. Benjamin (@Sheltyb803) April 16, 2017
When Benjamin went down last summer, it was said that WWE would be interested in using him once he recovered. Vince McMahon and Triple H are both fans of his work and feel he would give the WWE roster more depth.
In a tweet last November, Benjamin said he planned on returning to WWE once he got healed.
“For the record. I will make moves to return to @WWE when I am back to 110% physically,” he wrote. “Anywhere from 4 to 6 months by my doc calculation.”
For the record. I will make moves to return to @WWE when I am back to 110% physically. Anywhere from 4 to 6 months by my doc calculation.
— Shelton J. Benjamin (@Sheltyb803) November 22, 2016
Benjamin, who worked on the main roster from 2002 to 2010, initially came up on SmackDown with Charlie Haas as Team Angle, underlings for Kurt Angle. The pair eventually split from Angle, rechristening themselves The World’s Greatest Tag Team. During their run, they held the WWE Tag Team Championship twice.
In the 2004 WWE Draft, Benjamin was sent to Raw. He quickly got a singles push, scoring a win over Triple H, but would not capitalize on the momentum. Benjamin would go on to win the Intercontinental Championship on three occasions and the United States Championship once before being released in April 2010. He was also named Most Underrated Wrestler by readers of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in 2005, 2006, and 2007.