On the latest edition of his Grillin JR Podcast WWE Hall of Famer and current AEW commentator Jim Ross spoke about OVW, and how it was the original Performance Center for WWE. Ross also spoke about Shelton Benjamin, who he believed had the biggest potential to be a superstar out of the now famous graduating class of 2002. Highlights are below.
On Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton getting called up and working dark matches in 2001:
“When I signed Brock Lesnar, with all of Gerald Brisco’s help, he was a no-miss guy unless he self-destructed on the road with social issues. That goes for everybody. Are you a good traveler? Are you a good locker room guy? Are you a good teammate? I think it was a favor to both Randy and Brock to work that show in front of a big crowd and learn how to lose and learn how to lose the right way. I’m not gonna say they learned in one match – the deal is, the locker room was gonna be willing to accept a Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar, who they conceived were gonna threaten their spots. It maintained some peace in the valley and some order with both of those guys losing. Them losing had nothing to do with a lack of confidence or are they gonna make it. That was already a foregone conclusion. But for the locker room’s sake, and their perception in the locker room, doing the honors was the smart thing to do. I thought that was good booking.”
Thinks Shelton Benjamin was the greatest athlete and had the biggest start potential from that 2002 class:
“That was one of the best classes we’ve ever signed, and the best athlete of the group was not Brock Lesnar. It was Shelton Benjamin. So, I had high hopes for Shelton. I don’t think Shelton, even to this very day, has gotten the breaks or the accolades that he deserves. He could’ve been a major star in singles or tags, but he was relegated to tags because it was a good placeholder I suppose.”
How OVW impacted WWE:
“I loved working with those guys in OVW. OVW was one of the biggest assets that WWE ever had. They certainly were the frontrunner to the Performance Center and all those things. When you’ve got Brock Lesnar driving the ring truck and all the wrestlers involved in being on the ring crew – we weren’t gonna have to hire ring crew guys, there’s a bunch of them right there and let’s get those guys to do this. And because Lesnar grew up on a farm in South Dakota and grew up driving a tractor and pickup trucks, he was nominated to be the foreman. He loved that.”
(H/T and transcribed by 411 Mania)