Randy Orton has been out of action since last September thanks to a severe shoulder injury and chronic neck pain. But his absence from the WWE won’t keep him out of high-profile programs when The Viper finally slithers his way back to the squared circle. Before Brock Lesnar convincingly defeated Mark Hunt at UFC 200, it was announced that The Beast would face Orton in a marquee match at SummerSlam on August 21.
This past week on RAW, the WWE made another announcement in regards to Orton in which he’d be appearing on Chris Jericho’s ‘Highlight Reel’ at Battleground on June 24. Both of these pay-per-views, of course, happen after the monumental brand-splitting draft next Tuesday on Smackdown. And while we’ve heard conflicting reports on Lesnar’s availability for the draft show, we’ve heard very little about Orton’s.
The Battleground segment with Jericho could be The Viper’s first appearance with the WWE in over 10 months, but never count out a surprise return for the first Tuesday night live edition of Smackdown, which the company is building up to be a major show. Aside from the draft itself, Shane McMahon (the blue brand’s Commissioner) will have a new General Manager in place, and the WWE Championship will have been defended the night before, opening up the possibilities of a major fallout the following evening.
So whether or not we see a face-to-face showdown between Orton and Lesnar before or after Battleground remains to be seen. But it does appear as if the blueprint for Orton’s post-SummerSlam program is already drawn up. Wrestling Inc received advertising for some of the live event matches after the August 21 SummerSlam, and it could be an indication of Randy Orton’s next opponent after Brock.
Orton is scheduled to compete with AJ Styles during the house show tour heading into the fall which would clearly keep him at the top of the card coming off the match with Lesnar. And while the advertisement doesn’t specify whether the show is exclusive to RAW or Smackdown, there are several other prevailing clues that would lead fans to believe it’s a blue-branded show.
All along, we’ve been led to believe that Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins will be the faces of RAW while John Cena and AJ Styles headlined Smackdown. With Cena cutting his tour schedule down significantly, Dean Ambrose is expected to assume his role as the top babyface during the non-televised events. Ambrose is also on the card in question, facing Bray Wyatt, along with The Miz going up against Cesaro, in addition to the Orton-Styles match.
Everything is certainly subject to change, especially with the draft still yet to play out and final decisions needing to be made. But this news is slightly in line with a previous report of ours stating that Orton would eventually aid John Cena in his battle with Styles and The Club. Those plans have been clearly put on hold, but perhaps temporarily. Cena will have assistance from Enzo & Cass against The Club at Battleground with Orton focused on Lesnar for next month. It is also expected that Cena and Styles put an end to their feud with another singles match at SummerSlam.
Orton could be busy in the back half of 2016 with three potential rivalries to keep him in the spotlight. First Lesnar, then Styles. And the door remains open on an Orton-Bray Wyatt angle that never reached a conclusion after Orton suffered his injury late last year.
What’s interesting about a potential Styles-Orton program is that AJ listed Cena and Randy at the top of his WWE opponents wish-list and may get them both before his first year with the company is up. And Orton, himself recently verbally targeted Styles during an interview with Booker T, so they both may just get their wish.
[Image via WWE]