This is a semi-regular column focused on introducing the lesser known or not as well represented stars of professional wrestling to the people of the Cedar Rapids corridor.
Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas toiled in WWE for years. The two talented wrestlers both came up through WWE’s developmental system. Benjamin was a training partner of Brock Lesnar at the University of Minnesota and joined WWE alongside his more famous brethren. Haas signed to WWE with brother Russ, another talented amateur wrestler that sadly died of heart problems while still in developmental.
The two young stars joined the main WWE roster as Team Angle. As allies of Kurt Angle, they worked with him in an attempt to keep Brock Lesnar from the title. While that plot ultimately failed, Team Angle found success on their own, winning Smackdown’s WWE Tag Team Championships. Upon Angle’s return they would separate with their former ally and take a new name. For a short time they were The Best Damn Tag Team Period before settling on the name “The World’s Greatest Tag Team”.
They would win the title a second time in their first year in WWE, but that would end their place at the top in the promotion. They would toil for another year on the Smackdown midcard before they split and Shelton headed to Raw.
Benjamin would immediately score a win over World Champion Triple H upon his arrival and by 2004 would start an 8 month run as Intercontinental champion. Haas remained a tag team competitor on Smackdown. He would win the belts again with Rico, then form a team with Hardcore Holly before being released for nearly a year in July 2005.
When Haas returned his first victory was over Benjamin, but a potential feud instead became the reformation of the World’s Greatest Tag Team. From 2006 to 2009, the team would work together on a semi-regular basis, but neither man received any real push from the brand. Both would gain new gimmicks: Haas impersonated various other stars while Benjamin dyed his hair blond and assumed the nickname “The Gold Standard.
Both men were released within weeks of each other in early 2010 and many thought a great tag team would never get their chance to truly shine. Enter America’s number three promotion, Ring of Honor.
ROH saw the potential the two stars possessed and reunited them in an ROH ring under the slightly modified name “Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team”. After a successful one night appearance (albeit in a losing effort) to the Kings of Wrestling in September of 2010, the two men signed ROH contracts. In February 2011 they beat the Briscoes to become number one contenders to the tag championships. In April, they would beat the Kings of Wrestling for the belts and go on to defend them for nearly the rest of 2011, dropping the title at the company’s last show of the year, Final Battle.
With a new found lease on life and skills to match the rest of the ROH roster move for move, the future could not be brighter for Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin.
Eastern Iowa wrestling fans can catch Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team regular on ROH’s weekly syndicated program. It airs every Saturday night at 10:30 on CBS 2 and at 11:30 on FOX 28.