Shelton Benjamin has recalled one of the most memorable times of his WWE career.
Shelton Benjamin will always be lauded for his in-ring skills and ability that has seen him compete for over 20 years in the pro wrestling world. However, in the wacky world of WWE, personality is key Vince McMahon looked to inject some into Benjamin’s presentation when the company introduced Momma Benjamin to the masses.
Speaking on the Insight podcast, Shelton Benjamin explained to Chris Van Vliet how his momma made it to TV and why he turned down Vince McMahon’s first idea:
“I had a meeting with Vince and I was just like, okay right now I’m not doing anything, I want to contribute. And I had an idea and like first, and I don’t know where he came up with the mama thing. So when he first approached me about it, he basically said, ‘How would you feel about having your real mama on the road?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely not.’
“There’s no way I’m going to expose my mother to this locker room. Because as nice as a guy I am. I love everybody on the roster. But if one person were to say something frost to my real mom, I would have had a really short career.”
WWE brought in a ringer for the role of Momma Benjamin
Instead of Shelton Benjamin’s real mother, the company brought in actress and comedian Thea Vidale to play the role, a decision that became an easy one when the company saw what she could do:
“So when things started with that, and I’ve said this before, I feel like I get that whole storyline gets a bad rap. Because my mom, Thea Vidale who’s, you know, she’s a comedian. And you know, she’s been on TV shows like I said, Me and Brandi have a mother in common. Me and the singer Brandi have a mother [in common]. When they brought her in they narrowed it down to just her and one other woman.
“As soon as she walked in, I knew exactly who she was. Yes, it was me one of our producers, and Vince. Ultimately they left it down to me but everyone agreed Thea blew it out of the water and the day she did that audition in front of us was the day she made her debut on television, we made a decision that day.
“She was a lot of fun to work with on camera because she is obviously way more animated than me. But you know, it was easy to slip into that whole mama’s boy role because like she had a very domineering personality, to say the least. And I was having a lot of fun with it.
“Some of the skits, particularly when I walked in with her and Mr. McMahon with his pants down, that’s like I was having so much fun with that. But unfortunately, she has some medical problems and you know some other things that I guess management wasn’t happy with. Basically, she got let go and got let go before the story could be completed. We didn’t finish the story because, as I said, I was supposed to be a mama’s boy, you know, and it’s successful, but at some point, I had to grow up and stand on my own without my mom.”
Momma Benjamin is one of the most well-remembered characters from WWE television from the 2000s, and not necessarily for the right reasons but Vidale only portrayed the character for two months with Shelton Benjamin announcing that she needed heart surgery to write her off the show.
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