Friday, February 21, 2014

Promos By Hyphen: Deconstructing Randy Orton


As of February 20, 2014, Randy Orton has been your WWE Champion/WWE World Heavyweight Champion for 116 days. 144 days if you include the 28 days he was Champion before Daniel Bryan’s one day reign in September. Technically, he’s the longest reigning Champion since CM Punk’s (*sigh*) 434 days ended in January 2013. This Sunday, he will go into the Elimination Chamber at the PPV of the same name to face Christian, Cesaro, Sheamus, Daniel Bryan, and John Cena to defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship (WWE WH). More than likely, this Monday will see Orton still holding both Belts proudly on Raw…but then something will happen to upset Randy and he’ll spend the rest of night whining and complaining to Triple H/Stephanie McMahon/Brad Maddox/Kane about how it’s not fair and that as the face of the WWE he doesn’t deserve the cruel punishment being brought upon him.

This is the Randy Orton we’ve seen since the official end of the Daniel Bryan feud at Hell In A Cell. Randy gets put in a match, Randy cries. Randy gets talked down to by Triple H, Randy cries. Stephanie tells him that The Authority doubt his ability to be the face of the WWE, Randy cries. Randy has to face Royal Rumble winner Batista at WrestleMania XXX, Randy cries. But how did we get here?

At WrestleMania XXVI, Orton turned face when he defeated The Legacy and officially put an end to the heel faction. There’s only one problem: Randy Orton is a terrible face. From 2007 to ‘Mania XXVI, Orton had a heel run of legendary proportions. I was a casual Raw watcher at the time and even I gravitated to this vicious heel who was punting any and all comers in the head (including Vince and Stephanie during one of his feuds with Triple H). This Orton didn’t have to talk, his evil actions spoke volumes.

But in 2010, Orton was a face in a WWE that had John Cena (shocker, I know) as it’s WWE Champion and Chris Jericho (at the end of a legendary heel run) as it’s World Heavyweight Champion. Creative couldn’t put new face Randy against perennial face Cena so he shuffled from feud to feud until he regained the WWE Title at Night Of Champions 2010. He held the belt for 64 days and had a decent feud with Wade Barrett…and then lost the belt to The Miz when the self-proclaimed Awesome One cashed in his Money In The Bank contract.

It would be almost 3 years before Orton would become WWE Champion again.

A feud with Punk lead to Randy emerging from WrestleMania XXVII and Extreme Rules 2011 victorious, but also directionless. He was drafted to SmackDown, where he won and lost the World Title during feuds with Christian and Mark Henry for the rest of the year.

2012 started off with an exciting feud with Wade Barrett but quickly gave way to a boring feud with Kane through ‘Mania XXVIII and Extreme Rules 2012, followed by another World Title match loss. Then on May 30, Orton was suspended for his second violation of the WWE Wellness Policy (later dropped due to good behavior).

So since Randy turned face in 2010, nothing had been done to give his career any type of forward progression. Sure, The Rock came back (2011), the WWE Summer Of Punk happened (2011), The Rock wrestled (2012), and The Rock wrestled again (2013) but really, you would think that Creative would’ve done something more constructive with Orton than just using him for a guaranteed positive crowd reaction week in and week out. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. And I’m sure that second Wellness violation didn’t help his cause. But in interviews during this time, Randy kept saying what I kept wishing would happen: He wanted to be a heel again.

I got my wish once Orton secured the Money In The Bank contract in July 2013. After losing the Rumble match, the World Title number 1 contender’s Elimination Chamber match (to Jack Swagger!), and at WrestleMania NY/NJ and at Payback to The Shield, it looked like things were bleak for the The Viper. But little did I know what a spring feud with Daniel Bryan would bring:

A WWE Title feud that didn’t involve John Cena from July until December! Bryan and Orton went back and forth after Randy cashed in on Bryan at SummerSlam, with each gaining victories (even though Daniel’s never counted) and getting the upperhand as Raw went off the air. When Shawn Michaels superkicked Bryan’s dreams of being WWE Champion down the drain (again) at Hell In A Cell, Orton’s feud with Bryan ended for the time being.

So now, WWE has a strong heel as their WWE WH Champion. I know they frown on him punting people in the head anymore but The Viper will truly be unleashed upon an unsuspecting locker room. And he has The Authority behind him? Might as well settle in for an entertaining time folks.

But that’s not what has transpired. Instead of the aggressive, evil heel of previous years, they’ve made Randy into a coward heel…who’s won one Title defense “cleanly” since SummerSlam! Look at this:

  • Night Of Champions – lost but result was overturned to no contest due to what Triple H called a fast count that Bryan was in on
  • Battleground – No contest
  • Hell In A Cell – won with HBK’s interference
  • Survivor Series – won after Big Show was distracted by The Authority’s arrival to the stage; they did not interfere though
  • TLC – won but with the aid of handcuffs which weren’t against the rules of the match
  • Royal Rumble – won with Wyatt Family interference

Now, I’m biased as fan of Orton’s previous heel work but wouldn’t having Randy as a strong heel be better for business? Heels don’t win all their matches cleanly, hell, Punk didn’t win a Title defense cleanly at all after SummerSlam 2012. But Punk never looked weak. And therein lies the problem.

This whole run since SummerSlam, there’s been maybe two or three times Orton has looked strong, let alone intimidating. Everybody has had their shot at ridiculing him and there’s been zero retaliation on Orton’s part at all. Are you telling me that getting the Wyatts into their feud with The Shield was so important that Creative couldn’t have Orton attack, if not Bray, any of the Wyatts after the Rumble? Demanding why they interfered and saying he didn’t need the help? And that’s one segment on Raw and it’s done. You book Orton vs. the attacked Wyatt on SmackDown and end it however you want. But that’s how you make a heel look strong.

I’ve never been a big fan of coward heels and the last Superstar I can think of that actually pulled it off with the WWE Title was Edge. But they balanced Edge’s cowardice out with him being crazy and doing whatever it took to keep the Belt. Orton deserves that same respect.

With Punk gone, there’s a spot at the top of the WWE pecking order. Granted, a lot of people will say that Orton already is high on that list due to time served and that fact that Vince, HHH, and Creative love the guy’s character. But locker room influence aside, there’s a gap that needs filled. Cena is forever a faceel (Faceel – A face character who gets treated as a heel by the majority of the fanbase). Daniel Bryan is the hottest Superstar in the WWE right now. Sheamus has come back as a face. Big Show is hurt and limited in what he can do in-ring right now. Creative isn’t ready to fully push Roman Reigns. Cesaro is enjoying a nice push but I doubt it’ll last past Extreme Rules. Christian and Alberto Del Rio are fed up with their characters lack of storyline and both seem to have one foot out the door. Batista is back as a face but the fans aren’t buying it. Creative is taking it’s time letting Bray Wyatt be the next monster heel of the company, but it’s coming up fast. I won’t even bother with anyone in the Kofi Box.

What’s the gap? Not just a heel, a strong heel. Orton should be allowed to be that right now! Brock Lesnar isn’t around enough to do it. Bray is so, so ready for it but again, Creative is running a slow burn with him right now. The Elimination Chamber needs to really see what The Viper is about. I would have him and Cena tangling it up throughout the match but Randy has to pin him after an RKO. Put Orton over Cena. I think it’s also important that Orton pin Sheamus as well. Have the last two competitors in the match be Orton and Daniel Bryan. We all know that Bryan will get screwed out of the win somehow, but however you do it, Randy Orton needs to look strong and he needs to walk out the WWE WH Champion still.

This way, the crowd will actually care enough to boo Orton. This way, the crowd will start to believe that Batista is the face going into their WrestleMania XXX match. This way, if Daniel Bryan does get thrown into the Title match at ‘Mania somehow, Orton can gain even more heat by stalking both Bryan and The Animal leading up to their Triple Threat match in New Orleans. This way, when Orton ultimately loses the Gold at XXX, it will be an even bigger victory for whoever scores the 1-2-3. And even without the Belt, with Orton as a strong heel, the possibilities are endless! A Title rematch at Extreme Rules! A small feud leading to and culminating at Payback! Orton coming this close to winning the Money In The Bank briefcase again (or maybe even give it to him again. He doesn’t have to cash in again but just the thought of a strong heel like Orton with that contract writes itself. Hell, Ziggler carried his briefcase as a strong heel for 9 months and the crowd still lost it when he cashed in on ADR last April.)! A feud with now singles competitor Roman Reigns going into SummerSlam! I’m just saying.

Creative only has so many weeks left to sell Orton/Batista as ‘Maina XXX’s main event. Other than throwing Daniel Bryan into the mix without taking my advice on Orton, and letting Bryan win (I could barely write that with a straight face), this 30th anniversary of WrestleMania is a disaster waiting to happen.

I’ve said previously how much I didn’t like last year’s ‘Mania but that one at least looked promising on paper. Let Randy Orton be a strong heel. He wants it. I want it. The WWE Universe wants it. The potential WWE Network subscribers want it.

Unless Brock somehow gets involved in the Elimination Chamber match and wins the WWE WH Title. Then forget I said anything.

Picks
Preshow: Team GoldCody v. Rybaxel: GoldCody
Darren Young v. Titus O’Neil: Titus
The New Age Outlaws v. The Usos: Outlaws
Big E v. Jack Swagger: I remember Creative gave Swagger his WHC push around this time last year, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if he won. Still going with Big E though.
Batista v. ADR: This is just to give Batista more in-ring work and a chance to win over more fans. Batista.
The Wyatts v. The Shield: The Wyatts after Ambrose abandons Reigns’ attempt at a much needed tag toward the match’s finish. Rollins will be down ringside and unable to prevent Sister Abigail from Bray.
Orton v. Cena v. Bryan v. Sheamus v. Cesaro v. Christian: Orton unless Christian is either replaced by Brock prematch (then it’s Brock). I’d really like to see CM Punk takes Christian’s place and screw someone out of the Title but like we all know, I am still a CM Punk guy.

Royal Rumble: N/A
Since SummerSlam 2013: 9-9-1