Prior to The Beast’s fight against Mark Hunt at UFC 200 last month, Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton was the first match announced for WWE SummerSlam 2016. While it will be the first time Lesnar has competed in a WWE ring since his Street Fight Match against Dean Ambrose at WrestleMania 32 in March, it will be the first high-profile match that Orton has wrestled since WWE SummerSlam last year. Despite the fact that there are no titles on the line and no special stipulations attached, it is arguably the most highly-anticipated match among the WWE Universe. At the very least, it will garner more mainstream coverage for SummerSlam 2016 than any other match on the card.
While The Viper and The Anomaly were part of the same “class” from Ohio Valley Wrestling (along with guys like John Cena and Batista), their histories at WWE’s biggest party of the summer are quite different. Lesnar’s SummerSlam opponents are always top-tier talent — but he’s only made it to SummerSlam six times. His endeavors outside of WWE kept him away from the event for almost a decade.
Orton, on the other hand, will compete in his twelfth SummerSlam match on August 21. Randy has been a part of five separate SummerSlam main events and has left the annual August spectacular as a world champion on four occasions. As the only cross-promotional match on the card, there’s a lot on the line for Lesnar, Orton, Raw, and SmackDown.
If Randy Orton can walk away from SummerSlam with a victory over Brock Lesnar, there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t be next in line for a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. With eleven appearances under his belt, Orton’s record at SummerSlam is 6-5. After taking a look at Randy Orton’s SummerSlam résumé, what predictions can be made about his match against Brock Lesnar?
The Early Years And Evolution
Having made the jump from WWE’s developmental league (OVW) to the main roster in April of 2002, Orton was green and insignificant enough to be completely left off of that year’s SummerSlam card a few months later. After suffering a shoulder injury, Orton’s character transitioned into a heel, paving the way for him to join Ric Flair, Triple H and Batista in Evolution. His involvement in the Four Horsemen-inspired faction would provide a huge boost to Orton’s career, elevating him to huge SummerSlam matches the next two years.
At SummerSlam 2003, Orton was one of six men involved in WWE’s second Elimination Chamber Match. With Triple H’s World Heavyweight Championship on the line, Orton fulfilled his duty as a member of Evolution by helping ensure that Hunter left SummerSlam as the champ. Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels were the first two entrants, followed by Orton and Kevin Nash. Randy was still in the ring when Triple H and Goldberg came out, but was the second overall elimination when he was the victim of Goldberg’s spear.
SummerSlam 2004 was the beginning of the end of Orton’s affiliation with Evolution. In the main event, he challenged the late Chris Benoit for the World Heavyweight Championship. When Orton got the pinfall victory over Benoit, he became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion of all time. The following night on Monday Night Raw, the rest of Evolution turned on Orton. He would continue his reign as champion without the support of Helmsley, Flair, and Batista.
No longer a part of Evolution, Orton was making a name for himself on his own. At WrestleMania 21, Randy was added to the list of The Undertaker’s streak victims. A few months later, at SummerSlam 2005, Orton would get his receipt. Thanks to a timely distraction from “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Randy got his revenge after hitting his opponent with the RKO and scoring the pin. There are few WWE Superstars more legendary than The Undertaker. One of those few was Orton’s next SummerSlam opponent, Hulk Hogan.
Billed as a “Legend vs. Legend Killer” match, Orton began feuding with Hulk Hogan by cutting promos about the Hulkster’s age and flirting with his daughter, who had just recently turned eighteen. Orton was initially awarded the victory against Hogan after hitting the RKO, but the decision was reversed. After the match restarted, Hogan hit his leg-drop finisher for the win. And while it may be hard to move up after facing The Undertaker and Hulk Hogan, Orton would face John Cena during his next two SummerSlam appearances.
At SummerSlam 2007, Orton headlined the show as he challenged WWE Champion John Cena for the title. In a clean match without any controversy, Cena retained. After missing SummerSlam 2008 due to an injury, Orton returned to the event in 2009 to make up for his loss against Cena in a big way. With the tables completely turned, Randy Orton defended the WWE Championship against challenger John Cena. Orton did everything he could to keep the title, including being disqualified and counted out. After Vince McMahon ordered the match to be restarted a total of three times, Orton finally hit Cena with the RKO and successfully retained the championship.
Stipulations At SummerSlam
Over the next couple of years, Orton’s SummerSlam opponents would be considerably less legendary than Undertaker, Hogan, and Cena. To help make up for the difference, there was a title and a stipulation added to both encounters. In 2010, he challenged WWE Champion Sheamus in a Last Chance Match. To prevent any outside interference, anyone who got involved would be suspended indefinitely. Additionally, if Orton lost the match, he wouldn’t get another shot at the title as long as Sheamus was the champ. Sheamus ended up getting disqualified when he introduced a steel chair to the match. Orton didn’t win the title, but could continue to challenge for it since he didn’t lose the match.
The next year, at SummerSlam 2011, The Viper challenged Christian for the World Heavyweight Championship. This being a No Holds Barred Match, much use was made of kendo sticks and tables. In the end, Orton won the WHC title by connecting with his RKO on the steel stairs that had been brought into the ring.
Having missed SummerSlam 2012 with an injury, Orton’s next appearance was unscheduled. Holding the Money in the Bank contract he had won earlier in 2013, Orton came to the ring after Daniel Bryan defeated John Cena for the WWE Championship. Having just served as guest referee, Triple H was in the ring as well. After Hunter hit Daniel with a Pedigree, Randy cashed in his contract and defeated Bryan just minutes after he won the belt. That was Orton’s fourth consecutive SummerSlam victory — and his last.
Unlike his match against Brock Lesnar, Orton’s last two SummerSlam bouts flew under the radar. In 2014, he faced Roman Reigns, who the WWE believed would be their next big money-maker. A victory over Randy Orton helped keep Reigns relevant as Cena defended the WWE Championship against Brock Lesnar. Last year, he was working a feud with Sheamus, who was holding his own Money in the Bank contract. To help Sheamus get over as a main event talent before using his contract, the WWE gave him a clean victory over The Viper at SummerSlam.
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SummerSlam 2016 Predictions: Randy Orton Vs. Brock Lesnar
While WWE always wants Brock Lesnar to look like an unstoppable monster, making Randy Orton appear weak in his first big match after returning from injury doesn’t make a lot of sense. More than any other match at WWE SummerSlam 2016, the mainstream media will be interested in the outcome of Lesnar vs. Orton. From a WWE storyline perspective, the winner of this match will almost certainly be considered the No. 1 contender for the world title on their respective brand.
One way the WWE likes to conclude a match without making anyone look weak is to have someone interfere in the match. As far as we know, however, neither of these guys have beef with anyone else in the locker room. With no championships involved, it doesn’t seem like the kind of match that any WWE Superstar would interrupt. However, as the only match pitting someone from Monday Night Raw against someone from SmackDown Live, it’s possible that the McMahon siblings will get involved, flanked by General Managers Foley and Bryan.
One of the great things about Brock Lesnar is that he doesn’t have to win his match to look strong. Unquestionably, Randy Orton will be going to Suplex City at SummerSlam. After taking Lesnar’s F-5 (maybe even twice), Randy will very possibly be down for a three-count. The referee will probably be displaced (very possibly due to a Stephanie McMahon slip-up) and the pinfall opportunity will be in vain. This will allow Orton the opportunity to hit the RKO Outta Nowhere just as the referee regains consciousness. Post-match, Lesnar attacks Orton. The Viper is laid out and Brock stands as WWE SummerSlam 2016 fades to black. Lesnar takes out his frustrations on the Raw roster in the weeks following SummerSlam, while Orton moves on to challenge the winner of Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler at WWE Backlash 2016 in September.
Where To Watch
WWE SummerSlam 2016 is set for Sunday, August 21. It will air exclusively on the WWE Network at 7/6c. The SummerSlam Kick-Off Show will begin at 6/5c.
[Image via WWE]