Former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton has been out of action since October 2015 because of a serious shoulder injury. It had then been reported that Orton would also require neck surgery that would then keep him out of the ring until 2017. The WWE’s Apex Predator refuted the neck surgery reports and has maintained he’ll be back in 2016.
Last week, the Inquisitr reported that he could return as early as late next week or as long as a few months from now. It will be interesting to see if WWE hypes Orton’s return or keeps it a secret in order to capitalize on that surprise pop.
The other interesting factor (as is always the case with a returning or debuting superstar) will be booking Randy Orton’s first feud(s) upon his return. If it were up to Orton, his comeback to the ring would include angles with a couple of fresh faces that could provide a few sparks. Orton was a surprise guest at the Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai over the weekend and mentioned Sami Zayn and Finn Balor as superstars he’d like to face upon his return, according to a report from PWInsider. Now that would be refreshing to an audience that has voiced their displeasure over the recycled programs that veterans like John Cena, Big Show, Kane, and Randy Orton seem to be involved in.
Over the last year, Cena’s United States Championship Open Challenge was one of the more refreshing and anticipated segments consistently on Monday Night RAW. It appears Randy Orton may want to take a similar approach to the twilight of his career by facing fresh opponents, creating match-ups the fans haven’t seen before. Sami Zayn’s promotion to the main roster has seen him elevated to the top of the mid-card, with a spot in WrestleMania’s Intercontinental Championship ladder match and a likely feud with Kevin Owens. His star will only shine brighter the more he wrestles and is exposed to WWE’s mainstream audience. Finn Balor will likely draw similar exposure when he inevitably gets called up.
Another WWE newcomer who could draw Randy Orton’s name as a future opponent could be the new number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, AJ Styles. During WrestleMania weekend, Styles conducted several interviews where he mentioned Orton and Cena as desirable opponents upon their respective returns. And who wouldn’t want to get that rub from two of the faces of the company as those like Styles continue their ascension up the card.
Before he went down with his injury, Randy Orton was last seen feuding with the Wyatt Family. Orton was originally scripted to team up with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose at 2015’s Night of Champions, but he was replaced by Chris Jericho when it became apparent Orton would have to go to the sidelines. WWE programming explained that the Wyatts injured Orton so they do have the option for an Orton-Bray Wyatt program in their back pockets as well.
During the same appearance at the Comic Con in Dubai, Orton told fans he prefers being a heel as opposed to a babyface because being a babyface is too easy and it’s fun to be hated. WWE may have to have Orton return as that heel to make some of his desired feuds come to fruition and simply because there’s a dearth of top heels currently in the company. Randy is one of WWE’s most versatile performers in that he’s capable of playing either side of the coin convincingly.
Aside from the superstars Orton mentioned (Zayn and Balor), who would you like to see Randy feud with when he returns from injury? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via WWE]