Dark Match Dungeon: John Cena vs. Shelton Benjamin

Welcome to the Dark Match Dungeon, where we showcase today’s A-list wrestlers before they became household names!  The dark match is one of televised wrestling’s oldest traditions.  If there’s a young, rising talent that needs to be tested in front of a large audience, sending them out for a match before the live broadcast starts is usually the way to go.  Through the wonderful magic of YouTube, I’ll be digging up some instances where the cameras were actually rolling, revealing some of your favorite stars in their early days.  Our first offering features two rookies facing off in the summer of 2002… Ladies and gentleman, I present John “The Prototype” Cena vs. Shelton Benjamin.

What To Look For:

  • JOHN CENA’S HAIR.  Was “The Prototype” actually proto-Macklemore?
  • Baby Justin Roberts!  Leave the memories alone.
  • The Protobomb as a potential finisher.
  • John Cena working as a heel.  See, he can do it, he just chooses not to.

This is virtually identical to another dark match they had earlier in the month.  It’s on YouTube, but I can’t seem to embed it here.  Go watch that one too, if only for the idiot in the crowd who yells “CAN WE HAVE A REAL MATCH, PLEASE?”  Here’s a hint, folks… don’t be that guy.  Support your local enhancement talent, because you never know if they’ll wind up ruling the company for the next decade.  Anyway, I’m sure you know how things turned out for these two.  Cena would debut on the main roster later in the month and eventually become the untouchable, omnipotent main-event star we know and tolerate today.  Meanwhile, Shelton Benjamin would make his debut about six months later, and would eventually go on to hang out with Minoru Suzuki in New Japan Pro Wrestling.  I’d say everyone wins here.