As reported on Tuesday by the Inquisitr, the WrestleVotes Twitter account dropped a huge tease on that day, suggesting that the “first real shot [had] been fired” between WWE and the recently-formed All Elite Wrestling. That first shot allegedly came in the form of an “outstanding” offer to a “current, big-time” WWE superstar, and while this sparked a lot of interest from followers, WrestleVotes stayed mum on the issue and refused to name any names. However, a leading combat sports publication appears to have some information on the mystery “big-time” star’s identity and whether AEW has really made him an offer or not.
Early on Wednesday morning, during Fightful‘s SmackDown Live post-show podcast, the site’s managing editor, Sean Ross Sapp, cited WWE sources and reported that 13-time world champion Randy Orton was the big name WrestleVotes referred to on Tuesday. This was further explained by Sapp in an article on Fightful, where he wrote that Orton has “expressed his willingness” to speak to AEW. However, Sapp also stressed that there hasn’t been any word of AEW making any offers to “The Viper,” nor has there been any confirmation that both sides had actually spoken in recent weeks.
As there were several WrestleVotes followers who insinuated that AEW might be tampering by extending an offer to someone who is under contract with WWE, Sapp clarified that per his conversations with AEW, the promotion has no plans of taking such a route when hiring new talent, and would rather focus on signing “fresh and independent” wrestlers rather than established names from larger companies. Furthermore, AEW speculated that WrestleVotes’ source might have been a wrestler or agent “hoping to leverage more money out of WWE by planting info.”
Despite the above clarifications, there could still be a few caveats at this point. According to Fightful‘s Sapp, the above comments were made by AEW before it was revealed that Randy Orton was the mystery wrestler referenced by WrestleVotes on Twitter. Separately, WrestlingNews.co pointed out that Orton is “good friends” with AEW executive vice president and co-founder Cody Rhodes, whom he had teamed with a decade ago when they were part of WWE faction The Legacy.
Regardless of whether the above rumors turn out to be true or not, Orton likely has several months remaining before he can technically become a free agent. As the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported in January 2010 that Orton signed a 10-year contract with WWE, WrestlingNews.co wrote that his contract will likely come up next January.