Randy Orton is one of the top heels on SmackDown Live at the moment, but he’s let his compassionate side show in recent weeks. First, at Survivor Series, he broke character momentarily to console the family of Shane McMahon who had just taken a nasty spill during a memorable spot with Roman Reigns. And then four days later, Orton and his wife welcomed their fifth child on Thanksgiving, Brooklyn Rose, to which he was obviously thrilled.
Ironically, it was Chris Jericho who displayed some compassion towards Randy Orton during the main event match at SummerSlam. Jericho was watching the Orton-Brock Lesnar match in the back and if you recall, became livid at the sight of Lesnar bashing in Orton’s head, causing the referee to call for the bell in a TKO-finish.
Jericho was so furious with Brock that he confronted The Beast when he came back through the curtain. Things got physical to the point that Vince McMahon and Triple H had to break it up and assure Jericho that it was all part of the plan. Randy, too, put Jericho’s mind at ease by telling him it was all part of the plan, even though Orton had just suffered an unplanned concussion.
Randy Orton ended up requiring 10 staples to close a laceration on his forehead after the match and was not cleared to wrestle for several weeks after. Orton conducted an interview with the USA Today recently, and you could still sense some of his hostility towards Brock Lesnar.
“I think with Lesnar, it’s always going to be him coming in every few months as a monster who destroys guys who work 200 days a year … There is a tendency for that to get old. I could have looked a little better that night and that would have helped me a lot regardless of the finish and not hurt Brock’s character at all. But the fact that you’re asking me about it three-four months later, means we created a buzz. But the fact that I had a concussion and was out for three weeks and wasn’t able to do anything pissed me off. We say this a lot in the back when someone gets hit harder than intended, we knew what we were signing up for. It’s a rough sport. It’s a rough business and very physical. A few more people need to respect how things can go sour out there.”
As noted, that concussion prevented Orton from wrestling for several weeks which ending up scrapping what would have been the first match in his follow-up program with Bray Wyatt. The feud resumed, however, and the two wrestled in the final match of the night at No Mercy in October.
Original plans then called for Randy to move on from the rivalry with Wyatt into the main event spotlight with AJ Styles and the WWE World Championship. So it came as a surprise to many when instead, he turned heel and joined Bray and the Wyatt Family. The swerve has continued as many thought he was only infiltrating the faction to eventually turn back, but WWE officials are thrilled with the pairing. And apparently, so is Randy Orton.
“…I really do enjoy my day job and what I’m doing with the Wyatt Family. For the first time in a while, it’s been intriguing. It’s easy to get stale. But with the new creative and the storyline, I’m very excited to be part of WWE right now… There is a lot of back story and things we can do to give our characters more layers. Working with second- and third-generation guys like when I worked with Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase in Legacy, those guys get it. They have a leg up on everyone else. We were raised in the wrestling business and pick up a few things like etiquette, how you talk around the guys and respect for the guys who have been around longer and paved the way. It’s cool to be in there now with a guy who has old school in his blood.”
Immediately after Orton’s heel turn, speculation surfaced (including from Dave Meltzer) that Randy was turned heel to set up a feud with a returning Undertaker. But The Deadman’s dance card appears filled for the next five months with either AJ Styles, John Cena, or both. The WWE recently announced that Orton, Wyatt, and Luke Harper will be eligible to defend their Tag Team Championships under the Freebird Rule, with American Alpha expected to be the first challengers after Heath Slater and Rhyno were dispatched of.
[Featured Image by WWE]