[Ed. note: This article contains spoilers for the February 22 pay-per-view event Fastlane.]
Randy Orton, the Apex Predator, returned after several months absence at tonight’s WWE Fastlane pay-per-view. Orton, who had been shelved months ago due to a curb stomp by WWE Money in the Bank holder Seth Rollins, has been rumored over several weeks to be making his return with speculation being that he would return in time to re-ignite the angle between him and Rollins, but with Fastlane being the last pay-per-view event before WrestleMania, Orton’s delayed return, though he had been wrestling on non-televised house shows, had many believing that he would not resurface on television until perhaps after WrestleMania, with Rollins and Dolph Ziggler headed to a show off at WWE’s biggest event of the year.
Orton’s music hit after the Authority team of Big Show, Kane, and Rollins defeated Erick Rowan, Ziggler, and Ryback, with Ziggler in the midst of a hard fought comeback having nailed Kane in the corner. While mounted atop Kane, Big Show, from the outside, hit Ziggler with his signature knock out punch, allowing Kane to deliver a makeshift chokeslam from the corner to a prone Ziggler, and picking up the pin. Following the pinfall, the Authority, including J & J Security, Jaime Noble, and Joey Mercury began a severe beat down of Ziggler, prompting Orton to run down to and make the save, RKO’s nearly the entire Team Authority in the process. The lone escapee, Rollins, was shown via backstage footage in full sprint from the arena area and to an awaiting vehicle, urgently retreating as far as possible from Orton.
Given the nature of Orton’s return, the nature of his comeback should be cleared up on tomorrow night’s WWE Monday Night Raw telecast. While it is still expected that Ziggler will continue on to face Rollins in five weeks at WrestleMania, that would likely leave Orton to square off against former Authority teammate Kane, although things can and are often switched around, and much can happen in five weeks. It should not be surprising to see a combination of televised tag team matches leading into WrestleMania, with Orton teaming with the likes of Ryback and Ziggler to combat the Authority. While a tag match of some sort at WrestleMania is possible, it is more likely that Orton, now a fan favorite, will see one-on-one competition, and more likely that that match would be against Corporate Kane.
WWE WrestleMania takes place Sunday, March 29, 2015 and emanates from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. It is available on pay-per-view outlets everywhere, as well as the WWE Network.