HeadLocker — Jay Shannon</b
OWW Wrestler of the Week: Randy Orton
Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, looks at the new WWE champ, Randy Orton. Orton nailed his finisher, the R-K-O, on Triple H to take the gold at Backlash
Backlash saw all three top belts change hands. Randy Orton joined forces with Ted DiBiase (Jr.) and Cody Rhodes to battle HHH, Batista and Shane McMahon. Despite a DQ clause, where if any member of HHH’s team got DQ’d, Randy would get the belt, he didn’t need the clause. Orton blasted HHH with his finisher to become the new WWE champ. The troubled Orton has overcome a rough start to stand as the top man on Raw. He is this week’s OWW Wrestler of the Week.
Randal Keith Orton was born on April Fools Day, April 1, 1980. His father is the legendary “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Jr. Bob and his wife, Elaine, really tried to persuade their eldest child to stay away from the wrestling business. They explained the hardships of the road and the toil that wrestling takes on the wrestler’s body. Randy, at first, agreed with their thinking and enlisted in the US Marines. Sadly, Orton’s bad attitude got him dishonorably discharged in only one year. Orton had gone AWOL on more than one occasion. He had also directly disobeyed a superior officer. When Orton found himself out of the Marines, he turned to the sport that made his father a legend.
Orton worked for a small group, based out of St. Louis. He was trained by his father and a handful of others in the small organization. “Cowboy” Bob Orton still had connections with the WWE and he was able to help Randy get a developmental deal with the WWE.
In 2001, Randy signed on with OVW. He received further training from the staff there. Orton was actually pushed as a face, early on. Orton feuded with The Prototype (John Cena) during a large portion of their time there. Orton was also lucky enough to train with the legendary, Bobby Eaton, when they tagged up for a tag team tournament.
Orton held the group’s Hardcore Championship, twice. He also challenged for the other titles. Despite a somewhat bad attitude, Orton impressed the trainers and agents for the WWE. After a year with the farm team, Orton got called up to the big league.
The Evolution of Randy Orton
Randy Orton was sent to Smackdown, where he was immediately thrown into a feud with Hardcore (Bob) Holly. the feud converted Orton into a face. After five months on the Blue Brand, Randy was shifted to Raw. On Raw, Randy first feuded with ECW Alumni, Stevie Richards. During one of his early Raw matches, Randy suffered the first of many injuries. The shoulder injury put Randy on the shelf for several months. Orton remained vocally active during his rehab. He did several video pieces where he complained about the lack of support from the fans. By the time he returned, Randy Orton was a full-fledged heel.
After his return, Orton joined Ric Flair‘s new Four Horsemen-like stable, Evolution. The original concept was that this was The Evolution of the Four Horsemen. Orton joined Ric Flair, Triple H and (Dave) Batista. They ran rough-shod over the other Raw roster members. Orton was the Intercontinental champ when the group formed. He would eventually take the World title. That title win would spell the end of the group. HHH had Batista hoist Orton up on his (Batista’s) shoulder. HHH gave the Thumbs Down signal and Batista dropped Orton with an Electric Chair. Orton would then feud with HHH over the World title. HHH would defeat Orton for the World Title, which would be the catalyst for a feud, years later.
The Legend Killer
Beginning during his Evolution days, Orton began to focus on the Legends of the WWE. This attitude towards the Legends only increased once he was out of Evolution. After taking out several people, Orton got into a brutal series of battles against Mick Foley. After the Foley feud, “Superstar” Billy Graham advised Orton to do something that had never been done before. Orton chose to go after the biggest Legend in the WWE, The Undertaker. Orton played mind games up until Wrestlemania. ‘Taker would keep his win streak alive by defeating the Legend Killer.
After his loss to Undertaker, Orton was looking for a new direction in his career. He went through several small feuds, leading up to November. Following the death of Eddie Guerrero, Orton made some rather tasteless comments that offended Rey Mysterio, Eddie’s dear friend. The two men were thrown into a Triple Threat match at Wrestlemania 22, which Orton lost. After Wrestlemania, Orton was hit with a 60 day suspension for Unprofessional Conduct. Orton would later say that the suspension was due to his use of marijuana, backstage. To downplay the suspension, Kurt Angle “broke” Randy’s ankle during a match. This was used as the reason for Orton’s time off Raw.
When Orton returned, he aligned himself with Edge to battle the re-formed Degeneration X team of Shawn Michaels and Triple H. The new Orton/Edge tandem took their team name from a combination of Edge’s nickname and Randy’s initials/finishing move. The team was christened Rated R-K-O. The feud with D-X came to a grinding halt when HHH suffered a legit injury at New year’s Revolution. Shawn recruited John Cena to take HHH’s place and the war started again. The war was short-lived with no clear winner being decided. Eventually, Orton would look to take singles gold, again.
The Legend Killer returns
To re-establish himself in the WWE, Orton began to attack various Legends. He took out Rob Van Dam, Sgt. Slaughter, Dusty Rhodes, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair during sneak attacks. Orton unveiled two new devastating moves: the Orton Drop (an elevated DDT) and the Punt.
Once Orton ran through the various Legends, he shifted his focus on the WWE title, held by John Cena. Leading up to Summerslam, Orton attacked Cena on three occasions. Despite the attacks, Orton was not able to wrest the title from Cena. Orton’s demand for a rematch against Cena was denied until Orton attacked John Cena, Sr., John’s father. Cena then demanded a match against the man who kicked his father in the head. Cena and Orton would face off at Unforgiven. Orton failed to win the title, due to Cena being disqualified for refusing to listen to the ref’s instructions to stop punching Orton. To aid insult to injury, Cena Sr. kicked Orton in the head, after the match.
John Cena was injured just prior to No Mercy. Since Orton was the number one contender, he was awarded the title by Mr. McMahon. Orton would then drop the title to HHH at No Mercy, in one of the shortest title reigns in WWE history. Oddly enough, Orton would take the WWE title back from HHH, on the same night. Orton defeated HHH in a Last Man Standing Match.
After vanquishing HHH, Orton shifted his focus back to Shawn Michaels. Shawn wanted revenge for the brutal Punt to the head that sidelined him for several weeks. While Orton and Shawn shared wins over each other, their feud never had a decisive winner and loser.
Orton moved past Shawn to feud with the rising star, Jeff Hardy. While Hardy put up a good fight,Orton came out victorious. Orton’s next feud was against the returning John Cena. Cena had recovered from his injury and wanted to face Orton at Wrestlemania 24. Cena and Orton actually battled at No Way Out, where Orton won. Orton and Cena were joined by HHH in the main event of Wrestlemania. Orton retained his title when he pinned Cena who had been Pedigreed by HHH.
The birth of Legacy
At Backlash, Orton would lose his title to HHH in a Triple Threat Match. Shortly after that, Orton legitimately broke his collarbone during a match with HHH. Orton would re-injure his collarbone in a motorcycle accident, several months later. Many critics were starting to say that Orton’s career was finished. Orton was determined to prove everyone wrong.
Orton returned in November, only to lose by disqualification to C.M. Punk. Ted DiBiase (Jr.) accidentally caused the loss. Orton repaid DiBiase by Punting him in the head. Orton then enlisted DiBiase’s partners, Cody Rhodes and Manu, to form a new clique of next generation stars. Orton dubbed the group, Legacy. Deuce, now known as Sim Snuka, would make it clear that he wanted to be part of the group. Snuka and Manu would eventually be banished by Orton. Orton felt that they did not live up to the standards of what Legacy stood for. Manu would be replaced, strangely enough, by Ted DiBiase (Jr.). The trio would send Manu and Snuka into limbo and then turn to face the biggest dog in the yard.
Orton had been having issues with Raw’s General Manager, Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie brought in her father, Vince, to eliminate Orton. Just as Vince was about to fire Orton, Randy attacked Vince. Randy would Punt Vince in the skull in one of the most replayed segments in WWE history. Orton’s next target was Shane McMahon. Shane challenged Orton to a match, only to end up on the wrong end of the Orton Punt. Orton pushed his luck a little too far when he attacked Stephanie McMahon. That brought out Triple H. After years of hiding their real-life marriage (in the worst kept secret in wrestling history), HHH admitted to the marriage. This led to Orton admitting that the attacks on the McMahons were simply a way to get to HHH.
Initially, Orton utilized the psychological disorder, IED, as his excuse. The negative feedback for use of legit medical condition to push a story garnered massively negative reactions from both fans and the medical community. The IED angle was quickly dropped, when Orton said that he was fully aware of his actions.
Orton won the Royal Rumble and decided to face Triple H at Wrestlemania 25. Orton lost that match but was determined to take the gold from Triple H. Orton attacked Stephanie McMahon with an Orton Drop and a kiss, in front of HHH, to rile him up. Instead, he was faced with a returning Vince McMahon. Vince battled Orton on an episode of Raw. Prior to the match, Orton was told he would face Vince, Shane and HHH at Backlash in a Six-Man match, that also included DiBiase and Rhodes. Orton claimed that he would take out Vince. Orton did thrash Vince, which was all part of Vince’s master plan. Vince introduced his replacement…Batista! Batista had been shelved by Orton, several months earlier, after the Orton Drop. Batista wanted revenge, as did Shane and HHH. Orton protected himself by putting in the stipulation that if any of his three opponents got disqualified or counted out, Orton would gain the title. It turned out that he didn’t need the stipulation, as Orton pinned HHH, cleanly, after a Punt to the skull.
Randy Orton has ridden a roller-coaster for his entire career. He’s been injured, suspended and beaten senseless in multiple high-profile feuds. Despite being one of the most troubled men in the WWE’s history, Orton has over-come all the obstacles to take the top spot on Raw. How long will he stand on top of the Crimson Mountain? That is unclear. He’s looking at HHH, Batista, John Cena and many others who are gunning for his gold. Orton’s biggest enemy is…himself. While Orton is likely a future Hall of Famer, he may go down as one of the most difficult and unpredictable men to ever step through the ropes. Right now, he’s on top. His win on Sunday earned Orton the OWW Wrestler of the Week award.
— Jay Shannon