Randy Orton became just the seventh WWE superstar to win multiple Royal Rumble matches after surviving the 30-man melee Sunday night in San Antonio. Orton joined an elite class that includes John Cena, Triple H, Batista, Shawn Michaels, and Hulk Hogan as two-time winners, while Stone Cold Steve Austin remains the only man to win the match on three different occasions.
In the process, of course, Randy Orton earned the opportunity to compete for the WWE Championship at this year’s WrestleMania in Orlando on the first Sunday of April. Randy’s accomplishment wasn’t the only history-making moment at the Rumble either. John Cena beat AJ Styles to become a record-tying 16-time World Champion, setting up the possibility of a title match between John Cena and Randy Orton on the grand stage.
Orton and Cena represent half of one of the most heralded rookie classes in WWE history as they debuted along with Brock Lesnar and Batista in 2002. But surprisingly enough, despite all the times that the two have faced each other on television and pay-per-view, they have never competed against each other in a singles match at a WrestleMania. The closest they came was in 2008 when John and Randy were joined by Triple H in a triple threat match for the WWE Championship.
However, as of now, the plan is not to pit Randy Orton against John Cena at WrestleMania 33 either. Orton is on track to challenge for the WWE Championship, but instead of against Cena, he is penciled in to face Bray Wyatt. Cena’s opponent has been selected, but that information is being kept private as of now and isn’t likely to be a big name.
ESPN caught up with Orton backstage in San Antonio immediately after he won the Rumble to get his initial reaction. His comments might surprise you, coming from a 15-year veteran in the WWE, and one who’s done most everything there is to do.
“I’m still high off of that adrenaline. That feeling, that adrenaline rush — you can’t really experience that anywhere else aside from bungee jumping or jumping out of a plane… It will never get old, that feeling out there. I’ve done a lot of things. I’ve main-evented WrestleMania a handful of times, but it never gets old. It’s the same with nerves. In 2009, I was just as nervous as I was today. In 2003, for my first Rumble, I was just as nervous then as I was 15 years later.”
Randy Orton has earned the nicknames The Viper and the Apex Predator because of his in-ring persona, but during the first half of his career, he had also earned the reputation as somewhat of a troublemaker. Now, though, he is clearly one of the roster’s leaders, casting out a warning to any other performer that either ‘hopes’ or ‘wishes’ they found themselves in a better position on the card.
“Very little is up to me and hope isn’t worth anything, as far as I’m concerned. Whether I’m given a match with X, Y or Z, or winning the Rumble or out first, it doesn’t matter. You are going to give your all. I think our locker room, everyone gives it their all. We are all working together to put on the best show you can… When you start hoping too much, you start believing your own hype, and the next thing you know, you can’t do that here or you’ll get buried and get kicked out of the door. You can’t change in the locker room if you are one of those guys. The attitude has to be on point here.”
Randy Orton has established himself as a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, and after missing out entirely on WrestleMania 32, he’s got a chance to headline WrestleMania 33. This, after a career that has boasted 12 World Championship reigns, good for third most in history. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, however. He doesn’t care about that.
“I have heard the fun facts about my career, but when it comes down to it, I want to be in one piece when I get home, cash that paycheck and come back and put on the best match. I have been blessed. I’m a third-generation [wrestler]. I said, ‘Hey Dad, give Vince [McMahon] a call. I want to give this a shot.’ Yet guys like this [pointing to AJ Styles, who was standing next to him] were busting their ass for years. But all those little facts and accomplishments, they are cool. All of that is important to the fans because it should be. But once it’s important to me, I become one of those big-head egos. It’s a family back here.”
[Featured Image by WWE]