Highspots Presents: Developmentally Speaking with Matt Striker, Shelton Benjamin, and Karlee Perez

This was filmed in April 2016

It is hosted by Brian Myers (Curt Hawkins)

It runs for one hour and thirty-three minutes long


The interview starts with Myers telling Striker he used to watch him in high school and that Stryker hit on his high school girlfriend right in front of him as he jokingly calls Stryker a “scumbag.”


Striker talks about getting his start doing extra work for the WWE as he actually went up to Tom Prichard and asked if he was a doctor. Striker said once he wrestled Kurt Angle on RAW and how the news broke that he was a teacher, Victoria and others kept asking if he had been signed.


Shelton talks about how he got signed to his Developmental Deal as he said he went straight from college to the WWE as Shelton compares it to winning the lottery. At the time, he was an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota when Brock Lesnar was on the team tearing it up. Gerry Brisco called the school and spoke with the coach who asked if Lesnar was interested in pro wrestling. Brock still had a couple of years left at school but the coach told Brisco that Shelton was interested. Shelton talked about how he was a big fan of wrestling growing up then how Lesnar and himself got invited to 1999 SummerSlam. Shelton said the fat lady Billy Gunn kissed was literally someone the WWE picked out of a line at the concession stand. He talks about being in awe of the stars and how Lesnar, while enjoying himself, did not know who the wrestlers were and not starstruck in the slightest. After that, Shelton did a tryout and got signed, reporting to OVW in January of 2000. Shelton then said what Jim Ross said, that Shelton was signed to make it an easier transition for Lesnar, was true but that only helped him get his job, not keep it. Shelton talks about they all became friends because they stayed down there together for a while and that made them all want to help each other. Shelton then said later generations of Developmental ended up getting called up way too fast and were not very good as a result.


Myers then asks Karlee (Formerly Maxine and currently Katrina in Lucha Underground) about a rumor that she got signed by John Laurinaitis at the Hooters she was working at when she was his waistress and he was hammered. Karlee laughs that off and said she was signed by Laurinaitis but through Lou Maggio, who also bring Alicia Fox and Kelly Kelly into the company, because the WWE wanted a “multi-ethnic” female. Karlee did say that Norman Smiley always came in to Hooters when she worked there but this was before she got signed as Karlee said he was really polite and nice. She was only 21 years old when signed and talks about being mature for her age as her and Myers talk about how the girls in FCW did not last long at all. She then talks about Dusty Rhodes being her biggest mentor but on her first week, she did not know who Beth Phoenix was as Dusty wanted her to cut a promo on her as she was the Divas Champ at the time, and Dusty got pissed and slammed the door. Karlee talks about learning about wrestling from scratch and puts over her trainers. Her first thing she did on a wrestling show was as the “Candy Girl” as she passed out Tootsie Rolls for Sweet Papi Sanchez.


Shelton then talks about not having promo class in OVW as they would have a promo day but no one there was known for cutting promos and did not have anyone that could cut great promos until John Cena showed up, stating he was always great on the mic. When asked, Shelton said that Cornette was the best one there but there was never anyone there to teach you or help you out. Myers talks about Karlee always killed it on promo day and no one wanted to follow her as Myers recalls how Justin Gabriel was usually scared to go and that Big E was great from day one in FCW as well.


Adding to the promo discussion, Shelton said that when he got called up to the main roster with Charlie Haas, they were told to just be wrestlers and not to try and entertain.


Striker is asked about being on the road with the WWE while also having to go down to Developmental and train. Before his match against Angle on RAW, Striker said Angle came up to him and said if he did not tap out, he would break his ankle. He talks about how they almost ran out of time so he looked over at referee Jack Doan while Angle was outside the ring then basically stuck out his foot so Angle went in and immediately put him in the ankle lock. After that, he was wrestling Johnny Parisi (Johnny Swinger) on Heat almost every week. After a bit, Striker was told that Vince wanted him to be a heel and work on that in Developmental. Striker moved to down Georgia but was then told after he moved everything down there he was getting brought up. Striker asked if he could stay there and Laurinaitis said he could as Striker talks about how he was still getting a car and hotel so he would drive around Mike Chioda, Umaga, Charlie Haas, and Viscera as Shelton tells Striker he knew that they were only driving with him because he had a free car as Striker talks about how he knew he had heat and that was a way to acclimate himself to the rest of the locker room. Striker said he shut up and listened to them all during the drive.


Shelton now talks about moving down to Kentucky and how he was shocked when he first saw the OVW arena as he was expecting a training facility similar to the WCW Power Plant but the building was a shithole. Shelton watched a show and saw Nick Dinsmore and Rob Conway, thinking they should be on the main roster because they were so good. He also said this was when he was introduced to the “indy fan” and talks about how the fans in attendance were just as interesting as the show as they talk about some old blonde lady named “Big Donna” who was always first in line for the shows. He talks about having no money but he grew up poor and could easily adapt and chose to live in an apartment complex near the school instead of living in downtown Louisville. He then said OVW moved to a better facility just before he left for the main roster. He also puts over the ring in OVW and how it was the best for taking bumps as Myers notes that X Pac told him the old WCW rings were like bumping on a pool table.


Striker talks about being on Deep South and how he had a ton of heat. His first day, he saw Bill DeMott, who he knew as they were both trained by Johnny Rodz. DeMott brought him into his office that read a sign “Think Shoot, Then Work.” Striker said that DeMott was playing some stock computer game that came with the system and shut it off, telling Striker the game is great because you can reset it at anytime as that was his first lesson. Striker said DeMott would get on top of you and how it made you tough to the point you can wrestle anyone. Striker said he loved consuming everything there and put over William Regal and Dave Taylor. He talks about Greg Gagne coming down making them do some old-school headscissors as Hawkins was there as well and talks about how Gagne kept yelling at him to it that way instead of the more traditional way. Striker felt the trainers and system worked for him as he was not that social of a person while Myers notes he did not come out with them. Striker talks about how he did show up once to a party at DeMott’s house and got hammered and ended up puking in the driveway as Myers jokes that Striker probably had two beers. Striker then said he laid down near his car in the street as DeMott woke him up, yelling about how he puked in the driveway.


Shelton talks about Rip Rogers and how he was a great wrestling trainer but did not always behave like an adult and that is why he is not still there today. He talks about how Rip always spoke his mind but that they never did squats or anything like that as they learned everything they would need to wrestle a match. He talks about Russ McCulough, an almost 7-foot tall guy, who always did his own thing in practice such as tilt-a-whirl headscissors and Rip would go nuts on him for doing that as Shelton talks about how if you are that tall, you should not be doing hurricaranas as he compares it to the Undertaker doing the same moves as Rey Mysterio and how ridiculous it is and does not compute with the fans. Shelton said he talked to Myers and others from later Developmental classes and could not believe the crazy shit they were doing as Shelton talks about how they never did anything to break people or blow them up.


Karlee talks about how the girls with her were brutal as the guys all agree they were a lot tougher to deal with than the guys. She talked about guys being mean to her thinking she was just another pretty girl trying to make it in wrestling but over time you become one of the guys so to speak. She talks about being trained by Ricky Steamboat and how helpful he was to her as the guys all laugh, with Myers saying he is the most long-winded guy ever. She then expresses her frustration about being stuck in FCW for a long time.


On getting called up from Developmental, Shelton talks about how he was sick of Louisville by that point and got called up and rode with Cena as they did dark matches for a bit before he was given the Team Angle gimmick. He tells a story about Christian as Shelton said he has a natural scowl on his face and thought he did not like him. One day, Shelton asked him and found out that Christian was one of the nicest guys as Shelton said he never got hazed, citing his amateur wrestling background, but that Raven did try to do stuff but he had heat with everyone that no one played along. Karlee said she got called up during NXT Redemption and was stuck there for a long time with Derrick Bateman (Ethan Carter III) and Johnny Curtis (Fandango) after being in FCW for over three years. She then quit because she never felt like she was going to meet her goals at that point and never get properly used, feeling she was not intended to finish her career in the WWE. She then talks about Dusty doing more for her than anyone else in wrestling and how he called her weekly even after she left the company. Karlee talks about heading down to NXT before Dusty passed away and talked with him and Norman Smiley as Dusty talked about being proud and wanting her to quit wrestling in order to make movies or be on television.


Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought this was a decent interview. It breezed right by too. My fear here was that Striker would talk over everyone but that was not the case at all. I found Stryker to be enjoyable here, actually, as what Shelton. Karlee seems like a nice person but her story was not as interesting as the other two.

Comparing this to the rest of the Developmentally Speaking installments, this is probably at the bottom. That’s not to say it isnt good or anything because its a terrific series.

Overall, I’d recommend this interview. Plus, for those who subscribe to the Highspots Network, this is featured there. Otherwise, you can purchase this on DVD or by digital download here


Here is my schedule for the next several days:

Friday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 9/3/88

Saturday: RoH The Conclusion 11/28/03

Sunday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 9/4/88

Monday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 9/10/88

Tuesday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 9/11/88

Wednesday: EVOLVE 63 6/11/16

Thursday: Kayfabe Commentaries YouShoot with Hornswoggle

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