Recently on E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness, pro wrestling greats Edge and Christian were joined by WWE SmackDown Live's Shelton Benjamin. Among other things, Benjamin talked about his 2010 release from WWE and his time with NJPW. Also during the podcast, Benjamin admitted that he did not know about New Japan while he was with WWE. Benjamin described his time in Japan as "rejuvenating" and compared New Japan's locker room to WWE's.
On the subject of being released by WWE, Benjamin said that he felt like he needed to leave the company at that time. Benjamin stated that he was spinning his wheels and the release was "almost mutual" because he was getting complacent.
"When the release came, honestly, I felt like I needed it. I had been there for 10 years and I said, 'I had a lot of great moments, but I've never really accomplished what I wanted to, obviously, being WWE champ and there's a whole list of things that every Superstar should aspire to be being the champ, being the WWE Champion is one of them. If you're not there to be champ, then quit the [pro wrestling] business."
Benjamin added, "I had a lot of wonderful experiences, but I had a lot of frustrating experiences too, so by the time my release came, it was almost mutual, like I felt I had been spinning my tires, like, wow. I admit, I was getting complacent."
Benjamin admitted that he did not know about NJPW when he was with WWE because he was in the so-called 'WWE bubble' and did not bother following other pro wrestling promotion since he was already with WWE.
"When you're in WWE, you really don't focus on the other somewhat large promotions because, 'hey, I'm already with the king of the mountain. Why do I need to pay attention to those?'" Benjamin said, "a lot of people working there [in NJPW], I just didn't know. I didn't really pay attention. I mean, we'd see the magazines that would pop up in the locker rooms here and there, but I just didn't know anybody."
Additionally, Benjamin called his time in Japan "rejuvenating" and 'Invader X' went on to say he was treated very well by management at NJPW.
"Japan, the best way to put it is rejuvenating. Going there, I never felt more appreciated, first of all, by management because, I mean, Jado and Gedo, New Japan, like, they really treated me well over there. And, again, I didn't expect to be there. It was one of those things. MVP was over there and he brought me in on an angle where he needed a friend, and, obviously, he doesn't have any Japanese friends."
Although Benjamin stated, "it's weird to be the foreign guy in the locker room," he said there is no apparent pecking order with talent in NJPW, unlike WWE.
"[Working for NJPW]'s when I first met Shinsuke [Nakamura]. And again, I had no idea who he was. I just thought he was a Japanese guy who does a lot of Michael Jackson stuff. Like, 'what's going on with this guy?' I couldn't figure him out. And then, you see him perform and you figure out real fast who the top guys are because of the fan reaction. But, at the same time, in the locker room, I couldn't tell. Do you know what I mean? The way that they treat each other was so much different in the locker room, as far as if you walk into a WWE locker room, you can kind of feel where people are on the card, just kind of based on how people around them are reacting. Do you know what I mean? Not that there [are], like, guys stepping on each other and things like that, but you can kind of get a feel for, 'okay, he's a locker room leader,' 'he's a locker room leader,' and things like that. It took me a while because everybody treated everybody well. Do you know what I mean? At least I couldn't pick up on any egos or any hierarchy."
Check out the show here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness with an H/T to WrestlingINC for the transcription.
Source: E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness