WWE News: Big Update On Shelton Benjamin’s WWE Return, Veteran Says He Won’t Be At ‘Royal Rumble’ 2017

Those hoping to see Shelton Benjamin make his WWE return at Royal Rumble 2017 may have to wait a little longer, as the former WWE Superstar took to Twitter this week to comment on the rumors of his possible return and confirm that he’s still recovering from a rotator cuff injury.

A fixture of WWE programming for most of the 2000s, Shelton Benjamin was an amateur wrestling standout in his home state of South Carolina, and later on at the University of Minnesota, where he had gone on to coach Brock Lesnar after graduation. They then broke into WWE’s then-developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2000, but when both men were promoted to the main roster in 2002, that’s when their paths began to diverge. Lesnar was immediately pushed as a big star, while Benjamin mostly lingered in the mid-card from his December 2002 debut up until his spring 2010 release.

Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas (right) enjoyed success in WWE as "The World's Greatest Tag Team." [Image by WWE]

Right after WWE’s 2016 brand split, SmackDown Live aired a vignette promoting Shelton Benjamin’s WWE return, and the prospect of one of the most talented Ruthless Aggression-era wrestlers returning to the company after six years away had excited fans. But it was not to be, as Benjamin announced in August that he was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff during his physical. This required him to take time off for surgery and postpone his WWE comeback.

At the time he announced his rotator cuff injury, Benjamin promised that he would still be returning to WWE “soon.” He had further reinforced this in November in a series of tweets WrestleZone had compiled and edited, hinting that he may be a few more months away from full recovery.

“I seem to keep getting asked when am I returning to WWE on twitter and in person. For the record. I will make moves to return to WWE when I am back to 110 percent physically. Anywhere from 4 to 6 months by my doc calculation. Believe me when I say I am just as anxious to get back in the mix as a lot of fans are to see me.”

Due to the Royal Rumble pay-per-view’s reputation for attracting surprise entries in the event’s eponymous 30-man top-rope battle royal, Benjamin was among the rumored “surprises” in recent days. But as it turns out, it looks like Shelton Benjamin won’t be at Royal Rumble 2017 after all, according to new reports from 411Mania and other wrestling publications. The 41-year-old wrestler posted on Twitter yesterday that he is recovering well from his rotator cuff surgery, but is still “months away” from being cleared to engage in intense physical activity.

One of Shelton Benjamin's more memorable WWE storylines involved his fictional "Momma." [Image by WWE]

If Shelton Benjamin doesn’t make his WWE return at Royal Rumble 2017, when can fans expect to see him back? Looking at his statements from November, it may have been too optimistic to expect him back at Royal Rumble, which takes place on January 29 in San Antonio. Instead, it may be more reasonable to look forward to his return around the time of WrestleMania 33, as WrestlingNews.co forecasted.

The past year had seen its share of notable returns, with Bill Goldberg’s comeback after 12 years away from WWE being the most notable of them all. But we also saw the mid-card likes of The Headbangers and Kenny and Mikey of the Spirit Squad make their first WWE appearances in several years. Even Chris Jericho’s year-round availability was a marked departure from his usual practice of coming back for months at a time, then leaving WWE to focus on other endeavors such as his heavy metal band Fozzy.

Shelton Benjamin’s WWE return was supposed to be among those big comebacks before injuries proved to be the proverbial spanner in the works. As he sees it, there’s still a good chance he’ll be back in a few months’ time, although it may have been too much of wishful thinking to project him as a Royal Rumble 2017 surprise entrant.

[Featured Image by WWE]