It didn’t seem too long ago when Bobby Lashley, Cedric Alexander, and Shelton Benjamin were on top of the world together. Going back to 2018, Lashley’s return to the company has been hit-and-miss, with the latter being a big reason his career didn’t skyrocket the way it should. The former WWE Champion was coming off an incredible title reign in Impact Wrestling, showcasing that Lashley does have a personality and can cut promos. Lashley mainly floated around the mid-card scene, but his feud with Sami Zayn caused more harm than good. That’s due to the infamous three sister’s segment. Instead of making Lashley an unstoppable beast, they tried to turn him into a sympathetic family man, and it turned out disastrously bad. The former WWE Champion danced around the upper card scene with odd gimmicks until they finally paired him with MVP after the laughably bad Lashley/Lana/Rusev love triangle.
However, at least Lashley was treated as upper card guy. The same can’t be said for Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander. The latter was shown some love in 205 Live, and he was given a brief push that was abruptly ended following a pair of squash losses to AJ Styles. Word is that Paul Heyman was behind the 2019 push of Alexander, but Vince McMahon just didn’t see main event star in the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion. The same can be said for Shelton Benjamin, who has barely done anything since his return to the company in 2017. The Hurt Business reinvigorated his and Alexander’s career and allowed the two men to showcase why they deserve to be a prominent feature in WWE programming. For a good while, they did. Though The Hurt Business was being booked as heels, they came across as a cool faction. They weren’t scared to get into a fight and were booked relatively well, even against the dead on arrival Retribution. Benjamin and Alexander’s career trajectory seemed to be going up as the duo beat The New Day at TLC for the WWE Raw Tag Team titles.
However, trouble in paradise started brewing when Bobby Lashley beat The Miz for the WWE Championship. Noticeably, Alexander and Benjamin weren’t seen much with Lashley, despite being the most powerful faction in WWE. The duo started losing as well. The final straw was the duo dropping the belts back to The New Day. Out of the blue, Lashley trashed them and kicked The Hurt Business out of the group. Their was no rhyme or reasoning for this. It was clear that Vince McMahon didn’t really want Benjmain and Alexander associated with Lashley once he became the top champion for the Raw brand. I don’t have an inside source so this is all speculation, but given the way creative started treating Benjamin and Alexander after Lashley’s big title win, it was clear that those two weren’t seen on an equal level as Bobby Lashley.
Plus, the story came abruptly. There weren’t any teases of a breakup between the group until Lashley suddenly scolded them. The Hurt Business was actually considered a cool faction and the group was getting cheers from audiences. It was odd to break them up at the height of their popularity. Vince McMahon talks about these guys not trying to grab the brass ring, but how can talents reach the brass ring when he continues to pull the ladder from under them? What’s worse is that Benjamin would go on to feud with Alexander, and the duo ultimately become glorified jobbers. There’s an interesting layer of story that could’ve come from The Hurt Business break-up. Both characters could’ve evolved and in a way, Alexander’s character did, but creative stopped any sort of momentum by having him consistently lose. The cool faction with Benjamin and Alexander was gone. They were both losers and instead of seeing some type of value from these two men in the mid-card scene, Vince opted to discard them like yesterday’s news.
Then suddenly, they magically reappeared at the side of Lashley during his feud with Goldberg. Again, there was no rhyme or reason for this. Weren’t Benjamin and Alexander feuding earlier in the year? When did they suddenly become cool with one another and opted to work with the former WWE Champion again? WWE didn’t even try to connect any dots with this story. The only character motivation for Alexander and Benjamin was to get destroyed by Goldberg. They were still losers and the crowd didn’t care because creative didn’t even try to take the time to get you invested back into the former WWE Raw Tag Team Champions. Lashley was the star and Alexander and Benjamin were his lackeys. Nothing less, nothing more. This company had a powerful, all-black faction that could’ve made them money, yet reckless and careless storytelling killed the Hurt Business.