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Randy Orton is one of the most talented performers in WWE. Being a third generation superstar means that wrestling is in Randy’s DNA.  Randy Orton has held the WWE championship 6 times, add to that 3 World Heavyweight titles, 1 tag team championship, 1 Intercontinental title, the winner of the 2009 Royal Rumble match and the fact that Randy is the seventh WWE Triple Crown winner (holding the WWE, tag team and Intercontinental championships), Randy Orton is one of WWE’s prized superstars.

Yet it seems that where ever Randy goes, controversy is sure to follow.  Randy Orton was a member of United States Marine Corp, but when he went AWOL on two separate occasions he was discharged with a bad conduct discharge.  Randy Orton’s bad luck however, was not over yet. In 2006 Randy Orton received his first suspension.  Randy suffered a 60 day suspension due to violation of the WWE’s Wellness Policy.  A policy which WWE instituted to manage talent’s health and condition, as well as to make sure superstars do not fall into any bad habits, which have plagued the “Wrestling World” for so many years.

Drug and alcohol abuse have been an issue for several superstars throughout the history of the wrestling business.  Some have as a result lost their lives to it.  Eddie Guerrero and Brian Pillman are but two examples of superstars whose lives were cut short due to the influence of drug and alcohol abuse.  WWE offers all staff that is or had ever been under contract with the company free drug and alcohol addiction rehab at no cost to them.  This has resulted in cases of superstars turning their lives around. Some names include Perry Saturn, whose story is a bone chilling, mind numbingly emotional story.  From losing everything to coming back and being involved in helping the younger generation find their feet.

Randy has not been so successful though, the first 60 day suspension Orton received was for “unprofessional conduct.”  In an interview the apex predator stated that his conduct was unbecoming of a champion and that upon returning he would once more hold championship gold.  The truth would surface later though.  Randy Orton’s suspension was actually as a result of being caught smoking marijuana.

According to the WWE wellness policy, the abuse of marijuana is considered an offence punishable by termination.  It is considered a final offence.  So why was Randy Orton not released.  Well according to WWE his suspension was not as a result of the wellness policy being violated and due to the public nature of the incident they decided rather to harshly punish Orton.  Was this special treatment?  Was Randy Orton kept under WWE contract due to his popularity and in ring ability?  Was this placed over the fairness of WWE’s Wellness Policy rules?

Orton just seems not to be able to avoid controversy.  In August of 2006, he was hit with his first suspension as a result of WWE’s Wellness Policy.  Randy spent 30 days on the sidelines as result of this incident.

Orton’s name was along a list of professional athletes in several sports who had been investigated for obtaining Clomiphene Citrate, Anastrozole and the steroids Stanozolol, Nandrolone, Oxandrolone, and Testosterone.  When asked about the incident WWE stated that the incident occurred before the institution of the Wellness Policy, which was instituted in February 2006.

Orton had dodged another bullet, reports say the real reason Orton wasn’t suspended was as result of the fact that he had been booked in a big match at the September WWE pay-per-view.

Orton has been known to have heat with fellow talent, while being a member of the Monday Night Raw brand he was accused of harassing fellow WWE employees Amy Weber and Rochelle Loewen, who has referred to Orton as “an animal”.

On May 30th of this year, WWE once again found Orton guilty of breaching the WWE Wellness Policy and he was suspended for 60 days.  Reports say Orton had elevated testosterone levels, which it is believed was caused by a tainted supplement consumed by the former World’s Champion.  Orton is cleared from his suspension and will in all likelihood return to in ring competition this week on Raw.

The question is then, why is Randy Orton seemingly being protected from termination, and was the latest suspension perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back?  Will Randy once more get the push he had before?  Or are WWE officials not sure they can rely on Orton?

WWE’s roster has not got a lot of main event caliber guys, or guys with depth.  This is especially true on the Smackdown brand.  With Daniel Bryan’s consist feuds with Raw’s WWE Champion, CM Punk, the former World’s Champion is out of the main Smackdown picture.  Although Kane seems to be getting the push he deserves, many people may not buy the monster as the World’s Champion and would prefer him to be in the upper mid-card level.  With all these names also having been in recent main events, the return of Randy Orton could prove to be good to spice up the World’s Championship picture again.  I don’t see Randy winning the title anytime soon, but in this business we have a saying; “Never Say Never!”

Many are saying that after Punk defends the title against John Cena that he will return to take on Randy Orton leading to a big match at the Survivor Series.  Personally, I think Randy Orton needs to be used on Smackdown.  If Del Rio’s not successful at winning the World’s Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam, I would book Orton as a heel into a rivalry with Sheamus.  Both men are legitimate tough guys and will be a good storyline to take us through a period which has the tendency to be less exciting, before the big Survivor Series pay-per-view.

Generally I would enjoy seeing Randy Orton work as a heel character.  I buy him more when he plays the mentally unstable, “I will do anything” kind of roles.  For example when he was feuding with Triple H before their clash at the 25th Anniversary of Wrestlemania, the attacks on Stephanie McMahon among other things was something I fondly remember about his time as a heel.

With Del Rio, Ziggler, Kane, Daniel Bryan and other heel characters on Smackdown, WWE might go with his popularity and bring him back as a babyface.  WWE might choose to use him as a babyface, especially considering the fact that CM Punk at Raw 1000 turned heel.  It will be interesting to see where the Randy Orton character goes upon his return.  Though one thing is for sure, when The Viper is on, there is simply nobody better.

— Kyle Davidson, guest columnist for OWW