Randy Orton has been loyal to WWE throughout his wrestling career, but he recently fueled speculation that he could join All Elite Wrestling next summer when his contract expires. However, it is also believed that Orton teasing a departure from WWE was his way of negotiating a better deal with the company, which won't want to see one of their biggest stars join the competition.
Citing the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer, WrestleTalk reports that Orton is more likely to stay with WWE, as he doesn't have a heavy house show schedule and he makes millions of dollars per year. Meltzer also revealed how much money Orton supposedly makes.
"In the end, for someone like Orton, who is believed to be making in the $3 million per year range, and doesn't work a full house show schedule, WWE is probably the better place. At 39, he may be able to get an even lesser schedule. Whether he's the right mix for AEW is a question but next year you'd think they'd be looking for a big pick up and Orton would fit that bill, there's the question if they want to spend at that level for a new guy."Orton would certainly be a marquee signing for AEW should he decide to defect to the promotion. His star power is undeniable, and him joining the young company would increase their mainstream profile. It would also be a shock to the system, as he's been part of WWE for almost 20 years, making him one of the company's longest-serving roster members. At the same time, AEW is more than capable of giving Orton a lucrative contract. As documented by Forbes, AEW owner Shad Khan is reportedly wealthier than Vince McMahon, so money wouldn't be an issue if that's the main motivating factor. However, Orton might be lured by other incentives.
"The Viper" is also close friends with AEW Executive Vice President Cody Rhodes and current World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho. The latter was also a long-serving WWE performer until he jumped ship earlier this year because he wanted a new challenge. Perhaps Orton is seeking some fresh scenery as well.
It remains to be seen where Orton will end up next year, but he has options, and WWE won't be willing to let him go without a fight. The company has offered big money deals to keep superstars who rarely feature on television, and they'll certainly open their checkbook to keep a future Hall of Famer around.