I guess I have a few thoughts on this.
Rob is absolutely correct. Benching is not necessary. And too much benching can lead to injuries and pain, particularly when the movement is performed poorly. Inward shoulder rotation is all too common with powerlifters. And the pwnisher is correct in saying there is literally no movement that is NECESSARY for a bodybuilder or a gym rat to build a great physique.
That being said, it may be overrated, but it’s still an awesome movement. I do it less now than I used to, but it’s excellent for building overall strength and size. I’ve basically done nothing but bench press and dips for chest, and my chest is pretty solid. I favor overhead pressing now for performance purposes, because that’s what matters in strongman, but a lot of my overall aesthetic can be attributed to the bench press. Even if it’s overrated, it’s still a top-10 movement in my book for most goals.
The thing I’ve learned about the bench press is that it’s a FAR more technical lift than people seem to think. Everybody benches from day 1 of lifting, and yet they avoid the deadlift because it’s too hard to learn, it leads to injury, etc. I’ve found this to be very wrong-headed. I’ve had 1 deadlifting injury, and a handful of bench pressing injuries. And the bench pressing injuries have put me out of the gym for significantly longer periods of time. The worst was a full year. This is why I think a lot of people should favor dips over bench press, if they aren’t going to put in the time and effort to learn the bench press well.
1 last thing. Your friend may say bench press is overrated, but you also said he benched 440x7, which means he’s benched a lot in his life, lol. And I can guarantee that all the benching he has done has been a big factor in getting his strict overhead press to where it is. There’s a ton of carryover there, more so than the carry over in the opposite direction (from ohp to bench). I went through a period where I was training for a powerlifting meet, and I took ohp completely out of my programming for a couple months because it was bothering my wrists too much. Right after the meet I decided to try an ohp again, and I set a 30 lbs PR on it. Just something to think about.