What happens when you are a young superstar with great potential rising through the ranks of World Wrestling Entertainment when you suddenly hit an overwhelming losing streak? You call your “Mama.”
Thea Vidale, who is perhaps best remembered for her primetime ABC sitcom "Thea" for which she was nominated for a People’s Choice Award as Favorite Female In A New Series, was contracted by WWE to play the role of Shelton Benjamin’s mother on episodes of Monday Night Raw. Vidale, making her debut on the January 2 edition of Raw as Mama Benjamin, grabbed Shelton Benjamin by the ear all the while yelling at him for going soft lately. She demanded that he start winning again or else she would provide a little encouragement via a thick leather belt.
Vidale, who plays the character of a stereotypical, doting mother from the south, perfectly, also proves instrumental as Benjamin’s manager while at ringside. Following her debut, Mama Benjamin aided her son in winning his first match in months, by attacking his opponent with her oversized loaded purse. The following night, she again attacked another opponent, this time stabbing him in the posterior with her hairpin while her son distracted the official, allowing Benjamin to pick up the victory.
Her biggest ploy came when she attempted to interfere in Benjamin’s match vs. the Big Show. A furious Big Show screamed at her, causing her to faint, apparently due to being frightened by the 7″ 500 lbs wrestler. WWE.com, announced later that she was resting at home, having suffered from a heart arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm), which caused her to pass out.
Mama Benjamin claimed to be suffering from health problems on every broadcast and demonstrated it by having her son wheel her down in her wheel chair, complete with oxygen tank. On February 20, Benjamin challenged Ric Flair for the Intercontinental Championship when Mama Benjamin feigned chest problems to draw the attention of the official away from the action, giving her son the opportunity to attack Flair with the oxygen tank and win the championship. Although Vidale had actually been suffering from health complications in real life, the wrestling angle was a storyline allowing Shelton to win the belt.
Despite not wearing a microphone while appearing at ringside, fans can hear the loud and exciting Vidale screaming “destroy him,” “you better whoop him or I’m gonna whoop you” and other “encouraging” remarks throughout Benjamin’s matches.
Vidale, who also wrote and produced Valdesta’s Place, has guest starred in several sitcoms, including Law & Order: Criminal Intent, My Wife & Kids and The Drew Carey Show.