Wrestler of the Day – April 1: Randy Orton

The voices tell me that today is Randy Orton.

Much like Booker T, Orton has been around for a long time so I’m going to have to skip some big sections to keep this from being eight hours long.

Orton was trained by his dad and started in Missouri for a bit before signing to OVW. Here’s one of his matches from Christmas Chaos 2001 in January of the same year.

Slick Robbie D vs. Randy Orton

Cornette is in the Control Center and gives a brief intro to each match so they’re not as rushed as they seem. Robbie went nowhere but could jump like few I’ve ever seen. Orton actually has hair here and is a rookie as well and even has hair here. The referee is a chick with big hair. Randy isn’t evil here and has few tattoos. He’s also not orange yet.

Robbie hammers away on Orton so Cornette plays up how much of a rookie that Orton is. There’s that gorgeous dropkick by Orton and he grabs an armbar. Wheelbarrow suplex gets two for Orton. He’s freaking jacked here too. Big superkick by Robbie gets him out of trouble though. Leg drop gets two. Robbie hits a dropkick to send Orton to the floor. Apparently if you intentionally throw someone over the top it’s a DQ. I will never get that rule.

BIG plancha takes out Orton. Robbie tries to go up and goes so slow “that a crippled moose could be up there by now.” I love Cornette’s expressions like that one. Superplex brings Robbie down and both guys are down. Orton starts his comeback and hits some basic stuff. In a rather abrupt ending, Orton tries for a full nelson slam which is his finishing move at the time. It’s blocked so Orton tries it again and hits it for the easy pin. Like I said, rather abrupt.

Rating: C+. Another decent little match here as I feel like I’m watching a Before They Were Stars tape or something like that. Orton wasn’t that great here but it was clear that they were going to try to make him into something. As with a lot of other guys I don’t think anyone had any idea how big he would become but the potential was there.

Orton would make it to Smackdown a little over a year later and would be just a guy for awhile, including in this match on Smackdown from July 4, 2002.

D-Von/Batista vs. Big Valbowski/Randy Orton

Orton had been around for a few months here but was just a young kid. Batista was the deacon for Reverend D-Von and had debuted last week as well. Orton has hair here. Batista beat up Orton last week so this is the rematch Orton requested. Val (I’m not typing that whole thing) starts against Batista. He tries to take Batista’s knee out but gets run over by a HUGE clothesline.

Off to D-Von and the veterans do some basic stuff. Orton comes in to a screaming girls pop. He’s always had a sweet dropkick. D-Von gets a neckbreaker out of the corner for two. Orton gets beaten down but manages to bring in Val. Venis gets a Blue Thunder Bomb but Batista makes the save.

Orton comes in and hot shots D-Von, but Big Dave (first name unknown at this point) puts him in a fireman’s carry and rolls through it like Kenderson does. That’s a new one. Or old one in this case I guess. Everything breaks down and Orton misses his top rope cross body. The spinebuster ends this. Cole: “Batista is an animal!”

Rating: C-. This was fine and it’s amazing to see guys like this in their very young days. You never know what you might have in any given match and this is proof of it. I’m sure they knew they had something, but I don’t think anyone knew how big they’d be. Somehow, these two pale in comparison to the guy that would be in the next segment though. The match was fine.

Orton would suffer one of his numerous shoulder injuries to put him out of action. This was where everything changed. Let’s flash back to 1997 for a second. Rocky Maivia was brought in at Survivor Series 1996 as a face, but people would come to loathe him very quickly. They then turned him heel until his talent shined through and the fans turned him face again. This was basically a big screw up that turned out perfectly in the end. In 2002, WWE tried to do the same thing on purpose with Randy Orton.

Unfortunately it didn’t work all that well though and Orton was better as a heel. This led to the Randy News Network bits where he would interrupt broadcasts to say where he was in his shoulder recovery. However, instead of getting over as a face, Orton got WAY over as a heel and WWE just stayed with that and put him in Evolution despite being hurt. Evolution dominated 2003 and Orton was back in the ring a few months into the year. The team hit its peak at Armageddon 2003 which saw Orton challenging RVD for the Intercontinental Title.

Intercontinental Title: Rob Van Dam vs. Randy Orton

Rob takes him down quickly and Orton heads to the floor. Back in and we get some surprisingly decent chain wrestling, resulting in a standoff. Rob gets a shot to the ribs and a cross body off the top for two. Spinwheel kick puts Orton on the floor as Rob has been in control nearly the entire match so far. Big dive takes Orton out again as Rob threatens Flair a bit.

Slingshot legdrop gets two. He tries to go up again but Orton manages to shove him off, flying into the railing in one of his signature spots. Out to the floor and Orton gets that awesome dropkick of his. Back in and Orton chokes away with Rob making a hilarious face at the same time. Foley pulls Orton off Rob and Flair is TICKED.

Orton takes over with his usual stuff. Well usual for this time at least. It’s so weird to see him with only a few tattoos and normal looking skin. There’s the chinlock just to confirm it’s an Orton match. Big clothesline by Orton but he poses instead of covering. Seated dropkick gets two and it’s chinlock city again. Rob grabs a rolling cradle out of nowhere for two.

Split legged moonsault gets two. Orton hits a move of his I’ve always loved: he puts Rob on his shoulder like for a powerbomb and steps forward, pulling Rob down into a neckbreaker. Love that. Oh look here’s another chinlock. I know that’s a cliché for him but it’s true. Rob fights out of it after WAY too long and hits his spin kick to take over.

Off to the floor again and with Orton draped over the railing, Rob hits that spinwheel kick off the apron. Elevated DDT coming back in gets two. Knee drop by Orton misses and Van Dam gets a rollup with his legs for two. Rolling Thunder hits and there goes Flair whose hair is DRENCHED. Spinning kick takes down Randy again and it’s Five Star time. Flair has something in his hand but Foley takes him down. Orton dropkicks Rob off the ropes and there’s the RKO for the title.

Rating: C+. Pretty good here but Orton clearly didn’t know how to work a long match, although to be fair he still pretty much doesn’t. Van Dam is a weird guy to have carry you so Orton had to do a lot here. Foley would get spat on the next night and leave until the Rumble and then wrestle against Orton at Mania and Backlash. Either way, not bad here but not a classic.

Orton would hold the title for over half a year before dropping it to Edge. This freed him up to go after a World Title and he got that shot at Summerslam 2004.

Raw World Title: Randy Orton vs. Chris Benoit

Orton won a battle royal a month ago to set this up. It’s weird to see Orton with hair, regular colored skin and few tattoos. The fans of course are more interested in telling Earl Hebner that he screwed Bret. Feeling out process to start with Benoit taking it into the corner for a clean break. Benoit takes it to the mat and puts on a hard chinlock which gets him nowhere. Off to a test of strength with the taller Orton taking over, but Benoit comes back with pure leverage.

Benoit hooks an armbar as we reset a bit. Orton fights up and is armdragged right back down to the mat with Benoit cranking away on the arm. That goes nowhere so Benoit tries a Sharpshooter but Orton kicks him off and puts on one of his own. Benoit counters into his own Sharpshooter but it’s not on full, allowing Orton to get to the ropes. The Crossface doesn’t go on full either so they head to the floor where Benoit is whipped into the barricade.

There’s the Spanish table chant again as Benoit is sent shoulder first into the post. Back in and Orton puts on an armbar of his own, showing some basic psychology. Orton drops him ribs first across the top rope and the fight moves to the outside with Benoit hitting a kind of DDT onto the apron to take over. Chris tries a suicide dive but rams his head into the barricade as Orton moves to the side. Back in and Orton wrenches the neck around before putting on something resembling a camel clutch.

Orton puts Benoit over his shoulder for a powerbomb but steps forward into a neckbreaker for two in a nice move. We hit the chinlock which is actually a smart move here. Back up and both guys hit cross bodies for a double knockout. They slug it out with the champion taking over via a series of forearms to the head. Orton blocks the rolling Germans but gets caught in a northern lights for two.

Randy fights off a superplex and hits a high cross body for two, crushing Benoit’s head again in the process. Chris ducks a clothesline and hits a release German suplex before putting on the Sharpshooter. Two arm drops later and Orton gets to the ropes, only to be caught in a long series of rolling Germans for two. Benoit loads up the Swan Dive but Orton gets up the knee, driving it right into Benoit’s jaw. That’s hard to watch today. Orton’s cover is countered into a bad looking Crossface but Orton rolls away to escape. Back up and another Crossface attempt is countered into the RKO out of nowhere for the pin and the title.

Rating: B+. This took a bit to get going but I really liked the ending with the RKO hitting from nowhere. It caught the technical master off guard which was the right idea given that Orton is younger and faster. It’s a good match and Benoit put Orton over clean right in the middle of the ring. You can’t ask for more than that.

Orton celebrates as Benoit leaves but Chris comes back and demands that Orton be a man and shake his hand.

Orton would turn face the next night on Raw when HHH kicked him out of Evolution for taking HHH’s title. The title reign wouldn’t last long due to HHH deciding that he needed the belt back and Orton’s face push died. With nothing else to do they turned him heel again and gave him a shot at the Streak, which was really becoming a huge deal.

Randy Orton vs. Undertaker

It’s Wrestlemania so we get druids, chanting and torches for Undertaker’s entrance. This is never not cool. We also get the Burn in My Light theme for Orton from back when Orton looked like a 24 year old and not like he was made out of orange shoe leather. Undertaker is just 12-0 at this point. Feeling out process to start until Orton scores a quick dropkick for two. A single right hand puts Orton down but a quick rollup out of the corner gets two for Randy.

Undertaker throws him into the corner and drops the leg on Orton on the apron for good measure. Old School drops Orton again but Undertaker misses a running boot in the corner, allowing Orton to dropkick him out to the floor. Back in and a clothesline puts Taker down again for two but a running DDT drops Orton for two for the tall guy. Undertaker follows up with some clotheslines in the corner before loading up the snake eyes/big boot combo. Orton blocks the coming boot with an uppercut but he stops to pose, allowing Undertaker to sit up.

They slug it out until Undertaker simply runs Orton over for two. Off to a dragon sleeper by Taker which clearly makes Orton tap but it doesn’t count this early I guess. Orton twists around into a nice DDT for two before we hit the chinlock. Taker fights up so it’s a sleeper instead, only for Taker to counter again with a belly to back suplex. Back up and Orton powerslams Undertaker down for two but he makes the eternal mistake of punching Undertaker in the corner and gets caught in the Last Ride.

Orton escapes though and tries the RKO, only to be shoved off. He grazes the referee on the way to the ropes which apparently passes for a ref bump. The Last Ride is countered again and here’s Randy’s dad Bob with the cast (that’s a VERY slow healing injury as it’s at about 23 years now) to give Orton a VERY close two. In one of my favorite counters ever, Taker loads up the chokeslam but Orton counters in mid air into the RKO for two. Like any good lunkhead, Orton loads up the Tombstone but gets countered into the real thing to make Taker 13-0.

Rating: C+. While not great, Orton was trying out there. The problem was that Orton had been crushed so badly by HHH that there was no reason to buy him as a threat here. I won’t say didn’t even have to break a sweat here but other than that RKO counter and MAYBE the cast shot, Undertaker was never in any danger or even extended trouble.

The rest of 2005 was mainly spent feuding with Undertaker, who eventually won the blowoff match of course. Next up was chasing the World Title on both Smackdown and Raw but Orton couldn’t quite close the deal. Instead it was back to the old Legend Killer stuff, including a match against the biggest legend of them all in Hulk Hogan at Summerslam 2006.

Randy Orton vs. Hulk Hogan

Hogan has a bad leg coming in, meaning he’s perfectly normal. Hulk easily shoves Orton down out of lockup to start before running him down with a shoulder block. The bandana goes into Orton’s face before Randy grabs a headlock. Hogan fights out with a top wristlock as we’re still going very slowly so far, much to Hogan’s liking. Randy finally gets in some shots to the face to put Hogan down, thereby making him the biggest heel in the world.

Hogan fights Orton off in the corner and sends him into the buckle. Almost all Hogan so far which continues as Hogan pounds down right hands in the corner. He bites Randy’s forehead and pokes him in the eye to keep us firmly in the mid-80s. Hogan rakes his back and pounds away on the mat before threatening the referee with a right hand. Orton holds the ropes on an Irish whip and pulls Hogan to the mat to work on the knee.

Back in and Orton cannonballs down on the leg before doing a short form of the circle stomp. A chop block puts Hulk down again but he ducks/collapses to avoid a high cross body. Hogan pounds away but misses the big boot, allowing Orton to dropkick him down. The RKO connects for three but Hogan’s foot was on the ropes. Orton argues with the referee, Hulk Hulks Up and the legdrop ends it.

Rating: D. Well let’s see: the booking was out of the 80s, Hogan broke a sweat for maybe a minute, and Orton was pinned clean by a 50+ year old man in about eleven minutes. This is the opposite of last year with Shawn as Michaels didn’t have much to gain from a win. Orton on the other hand could have ridden this win for months, but instead we get Hogan’s last WWE match (which you couldn’t have known at the time) as a tribute to him, complete with the 1985 formula all over again. Not a fan of this but you had to know it was coming.

After chasing the title again for a good chunk of 2007, Orton would be awarded the title at No Mercy 2007 when John Cena was injured. Randy would lose the title less than twenty minutes later to HHH before facing him again later in the night in a last man standing match.

Raw World Title: HHH vs. Randy Orton

Last man standing. Slugout to start with Orton going after the bad ribs. They keep the slugout going out to the floor where a Pedigree is countered. The bad ribs land on the steel and Orton gets control. Back in and a punch puts HHH down. Out to the floor again and Orton belly to back suplexes him onto the barricade. That gets a six count and Orton throws him into the steps for another six.

They head into the ring and Orton hits a release powerslam for about eight. Facebuster puts Orton down but he pops back up and gets a cord off the floor. He chokes HHH out but what should be murder only gets a nine count. Orton loads up the announce table and gets a horrible shot to the head with a monitor. An RKO from one table to the other doesn’t work as HHH launches him through the second table.

Both guys are down and Orton is holding his arm. Gee where have I seen that before? Trips gets up and it’s a nine count on Orton. A spinebuster on the floor but that gets the same result. Steps to the face of Orton should kill him but gets the slowest nine count ever. Back into the ring and HHH gets a chair. Orton manages to kick the bad ribs and DDTs him onto the chair for an eight or so.

Randy finally goes off and pounds HHH down in the corner and an RKO on the open chair gets nine. The Punt is grabbed and HHH throws Orton over the top to the floor. They go to the floor with HHH pounding on him before throwing him onto the remaining table. Orton escapes and slams him into the post to put HHH down. He gets the steps but HHH hits him low to “slam” Orton’s head into them. A chair to Orton’s head while it’s still on the steps gets nine and we go back to the table. An RKO out of nowhere onto the table gives Orton the title. It’s as sudden as it sounds.

Rating: B. Good match but the counts got pretty ridiculous at times. The ending didn’t help either as Orton had hit him with far bigger stuff just moments earlier but the RKO ends it because that’s what Orton finishes matches with. Also it doesn’t help that these two had THREE last man standing matches in total. See why people got tired of them?

Cena would come back sooner than later and would jump back into the title scene, setting up a threeway between Orton, Cena and HHH at Wrestlemania XXIV.

Raw World Title: Randy Orton vs. HHH vs. John Cena

Cena has a drumline playing him to the ring which is pretty awesome. After some big match intros we’re ready to go. Orton immediately blasts HHH with the belt but Cena takes the champion down with a bulldog before Orton can do any more damage. HHH pops back up and throws both guys to the floor before sending Orton into the announce table. Orton and HHH head back in with the champion being put in a sleeper. Cena comes back in and picks them BOTH up at the same time for an FU but both guys slip off the back. Orton’s backbreaker puts HHH down as does a shot to Cena to give the champion control again.

Randy takes turns pounding away on both guys, getting two off a knee drop to the Game. Orton starts getting uncharacteristic for himself by going up top, only to be stopped by Cena. John loads up a superplex but HHH pulls Cena onto his own shoulders so Orton can hit a top rope cross body for two. Cena stands up to try the FU on Orton but Randy slides into a cradle for two. HHH clotheslines Cena down but Orton clotheslines HHH to put HHH down.

It’s Orton standing tall again as he sends both guys to the apron for a double Elevated DDT which gets two on both challengers. An RKO to Cena is countered but he shoves Orton into HHH to put both guys down. Cena hits the Throwback (a flipping face first mat slam) and the top rope Fameasser to keep Randy down. He isn’t down enough for the STFU though and the champion rolls to the floor. Cena follows him and is sent into the post to slow things down again.

Orton and HHH fight it out in the ring with HHH taking out the champion’s knee. Cena comes back in to distract HHH but after the Game puts him down, Orton catches him with an RKO to put him right next to Cena. Orton kicks HHH to the floor but walks into the STFU in the middle of the ring. HHH makes a save at the last second and sends Cena into the floor to put him down on the floor.

Back in and HHH puts on an Indian Deathlock to follow up on the knee work he started earlier. Now it’s Cena back in to break up the hold and send HHH into the corner and out to the floor. Back to the STFU but HHH comes in for the save. The problem is that the save didn’t work, so HHH puts Cena in a Crossface while Cena has Orton in the STFU. Cena lets go of his hold but manages to crawl over to the ropes to break up the hold.

Orton rolls to the floor so HHH and Cena can slug it out in the middle of the ring. The fans boo Cena’s punches and cheer HHH’s, continuing a trend for whomever Cena is facing. Cena slams HHH down and hits the Shuffle but Cena’s FU is countered into a Pedigree attempt which is countered into an STFU attempt this HHH escapes. The spinebuster puts John down and there’s the Pedigree, but Orton comes back in with the Punt to HHH to knock him silly and Orton pins Cena to retain.

Rating: B. This was a fast paced match with all three guys working hard out there in front of a huge crowd. The back and forth stuff worked very well and it wasn’t clear who was going to win until the match was over. Orton getting beaten up and winning while stealing HHH’s pin is perfect for him, as well as giving him the big win on the big stage that he needed.

We’ll jump ahead again due to HHH vs. Orton in 2008 being AWFUL and HHH vs. Orton continuing to be AWFUL in 2009, because those two just had to face each other forever in the main event. We’ll head to Hell in a Cell 2009 as Orton has finally moved over to feuding with John Cena forever instead of HHH FOREVER.

Raw World Title: John Cena vs. Randy Orton

Orton gets a small face pop again. All right I’ll say it: I love Cena’s theme song and I sing along at times. Cena is champion here and this is Orton’s last shot allegedly. This is the first ever Cell match that HHH or Taker weren’t in. That’s saying a lot when you think about it. Orton takes over early and is in control. King offers analysis of what’s going on. Why? He’s never been in one of these things so what kind of knowledge can he have of them?

Crowd is TOTALLY behind Orton here. They’re 3 minutes in and they’ve used the cage FAR more than Taker and Punk did, which isn’t saying much at all really but whatever. They’re using the cage to jump up higher for kicks and getting slammed into it a bit, but the problem is you could use the posts or the apron for everything they’re doing.

The best version ever of the match was Shawn vs. Taker, as Shawn was scared to death of him and couldn’t get out. He was trapped in a nightmare with the devil. That’s the idea of the match. Instead here it’s just a hardcore match in a cage. Now to be fair, just about every match ever in the Cell is like that anymore so it’s hardly a problem that just this match is having.

Cena blocks the elevated DDT onto the steps. No one is keeping control for more than just a little bit which I’m not sure if I like or not. They’re just standing around in a match that’s supposed to be all about violence. What sense does something like that even begin to make? Cena begins his comeback with his usual stuff and I have zero clue why this is in the Cell.

The elevated DDT hits after Orton takes over. The FU gets two and we’re in the kicking out of finishers segment already. Shockingly, an Orton match is going VERY slowly. Orton hits Cena in the neck with a chair! Hey kids! Hit someone in the neck with a chair! It’s on a PG show so it’s all good. Orton has demons? Cool.

I wonder if Vince tells the camera guys to focus on Orton when he’s in crazy mode as it looks like he’s orgasming or something like that. Cena works the knee for like two seconds and Orton tries to get out of the STFU. He gets it again for the tap but the referee was knocked down. What a shame!

RKO gets two. Orton ties Cena up in the ropes for no adequately explored reason. In something that I laughed out loud at, he uses a chinlock while Cena is tied in the ropes. Seriously, why am I not surprised? Orton lets go for no adequately explored reason. He punts Cena and wins the title. The 4 seconds of knee work Cena did earlier was the explanation of why Orton’s punt didn’t put Cena on the shelf. That’s just freaking stupid but whatever.

Rating: D. Again, for a Cell match, this was awful but for a regular match this would have been ok. The Cell use here was better than in the Taker match, but at the same time there just isn’t enough here to validate having the Cell being in play here.

Also having seen it earlier in the night it makes it seem FAR less interesting. The psychology was more or less nonexistent here too. Overall just not good. Keep in mind: had this been a street fight or whatever, it’s probably a B. As for a Cell match though which it was, this was awful.

We’ll skip over 2010 to avoid Nexus, even though face Orton won another World Title at Night of Champions. Instead we’ll move ahead to Wrestlemania 27 and the apex of Orton’s feud with CM Punk and his New Nexus.

Randy Orton vs. CM Punk

The cylinder from last year is now a cube which still has the videos playing on them. Orton immediately takes it to the floor and pounds away, but Punk jumps over the steps and kicks them into Orton’s knees. Back in and Orton stays on the knees for a quick two count. Punk of course mocks the knee injury before stomping at the legs even more. Randy grabs a quick backbreaker but Punk comes back with a kind of Stunner to the leg for two.

Punk hits the running knee in the corner but Orton falls down before he can hit the bulldog. The straightedge one stays on the knee and puts Orton in the Tree of Woe. In a cool bit, Orton tries to pull himself up but Punk drops a top rope knee to take Randy right back down. The GTS is countered but Punk breaks up the RKO with a high kick for two. Punk loads up the Macho Elbow but Orton crotches him down instead. A superplex puts Punk down but the cover is very delayed and only gets two.

Punk wraps the knee around the post a few times and Orton is in big trouble. Off to a modified Indian deathlock for a bit but Orton fights back and slugs Punk down to take over. Punk comes back with a basic kick to the knee and there’s the Anaconda Vice. Orton rolls over and the fans never once seemed nervous about a tap out. CM heads out to the apron and is rammed into the post, followed by the Elevated DDT. Orton loads up the Punt but the knee gives out. Punk heads to the outside and loads up the springboard clothesline but dives right into the RKO for the pin by Randy.

Rating: B. Good solid match here which should have been the end of the feud, but since this is WWE, there was a gimmick rematch the next month because that’s how WWE books feuds. You know, because WRESTLEMANIA isn’t good enough to end a story at. Anyway, very good match here between two guys with solid chemistry together.

Just over a month later, Orton would jump to Smackdown and receive a World Title shot on his first night on the show against new champion Christian.

Smackdown World Title: Randy Orton vs. Christian

This show has flown by it seems. Regarding Christian’s pop, in the words of Riddler from Batman Forever, “Your entrance was good, his was better.” Headlock by Orton to start but Christian gets a shoulder for two. Orton hammers away and the crowd eats it up with a spoon like soup or Jello or pork or other things eaten with a spoon. The champ sends him to the floor and gets a delayed baseball slide to take Orton down, only to be taken down as well as we take a break.

Back in the ring with Orton in total control. Orton works on the ribs and gets a reverse waistlock (looks like he’s about to hit a German) which looks like the cover of a very freaky Christmas card. They hit the floor via a Cactus Clothesline by Orton as we take break #2. Back with Christian holding a chinlock for only a few seconds. Orton gets a belly to back and both guys are down.

They slug it out a bit and Orton hits that gorgeous dropkick to put Christian down. He goes all psycho but Christian gets the pendulum kick in the corner and a middle rope missile dropkick for two. Guillotine over the top sets up a cross body off the top for two for Christian. Fans are way into this. Middle rope elbow (love that move still) hits and let the clapping begin!

For some reason Christian charges at him and gets caught by a powerslam for two. Christian slides to the floor to try a right hand to Randy as he’s in a 619 position but Orton avoids it to hit the elevated DDT for two. Angle Slam is countered into a reverse DDT for two. Slam hits this time and it’s RKO time. Since it’s the first attempt it’s countered as is the Killswitch. Christian goes to the middle rope and tries a spinning something off of it, proving why he’s an idiot as YOU DON’T JUMP AT ORTON! RKO ends the 5 day reign at 10:08 shown of 17:08.

Rating: B. Good match here and Christian definitely looked strong throughout. People are going to complain about the reign looking bad due to it being too short, but at the same time he had two matches and this was by far the weaker one and this was a very good TV match. Orton is a far bigger star and Christian got the reign that everyone wanted him to get. The fanboys will be up in arms over it, but you have to just ignore them as they’ll never be pleased. He got his title, he got his moment, he had two great matches and lost it. No harm no foul in my eyes.

Again we’ll skip 2012 which had almost nothing interesting for the most part as Orton would feud with Ziggler, Del Rio, and the Wellness Policy. Orton would eventually feud with Shield alongside Sheamus and Big Show. The trio would be beaten by Shield at Wrestlemania XXIX, so Orton and Sheamus squared off on Raw the next night. This was nothing short of bizarre and warrants inclusion.

Sheamus vs. Randy Orton

They shove each other to start and the fans do an OLE chant. Orton hits a snapmare but Sheamus avoids a knee drop. Sheamus hits a pair of knees for his own for two and starts working on the arm. Orton comes back with another knee to the chest as the match keeps going. Randy hooks a chinlock as the fans think a four minutes old match is boring.

Now Sheamus hooks a chinlock as the announcers talk about going to London in a few weeks for Raw. Now the fans chant for Rob Van Dam. Now it’s HBK. Orton slowly stomps away as the match is completely ignored. The fans are now chanting for JBL as Sheamus gets two off the rolling fireman’s carry. Sheamus goes up top and the fans chant for Lawler. This is BIZARRE. Orton dropkicks Sheamus out of the air and now they’re chanting Cole as we take a break.

Back with the fans chanting what sounded like DDP and then ECW as Sheamus makes a comeback. The Irish Curse hits for two as the crowd is doing the Wave. JBL: “I wish Michael would drown in it.” Sheamus hits his knee to the ribs and the ten forearms in the ropes as the fans suddenly start cheering along. A suplex brings Orton back in as Sheamus is smiling. Orton’s backbreaker puts Sheamus as we get a Randy Savage chant. Even the announcers are giving up at this point.

The powerslam and t-bone suplex put Sheamus down as the HBK chant starts again. There’s the Elevated DDT and Orton loads up the RKO, only to be shoved off into White Noise. I think the fans are booing Sheamus but how can you tell in this match? The Brogue Kick misses and here comes Big Show as I think everyone knew was about to happen. He throws Sheamus into the post, presumably ending the match at 15:10. Fans: “Thank you Big Show.”

Rating: N/A. I have almost no idea what happened in this match but the crowd stole the show here. The thing I don’t get is that while the match was slow paced, it wasn’t THAT bad. This is a case where the fans just did not care what was going on and found ways to entertain themselves. I’ve never seen anything like this but it was awesome in a way. For an actual grade, we’ll go roughly C- or so.

We’ll head back to reality now as Orton is in the Money in the Bank match at the PPV of the same name.

CM Punk vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Christian vs. Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton

RVD, Bryan and Punk get good reactions but the fans aren’t impressed with the others. Everyone goes after RVD to start and knock him to the floor. The remaining four go after Sheamus before pairing off themselves. We’re quickly down to Bryan vs. Punk and the fans go nuts in a hurry. Van Dam is knocked off the apron and into a ladder as the two stars go at it. Bryan almost botches the backflip but counters the GTS into a YES Lock attempt, only to have everyone not named RVD make the save with a ladder.

Van Dam is back in now to clean house and pose a bit. Some baseball slides drop Punk and Sheamus before Rob drops Christian onto a ladder. Rolling Thunder onto Bryan onto the ladder takes Daniel out but it’s Orton sending Van Dam to the floor. Rob kicks him down and loads up the Five Star onto Orton onto the ladder but Christian breaks it up with a short ladder. Christian loses a fight to Sheamus over a full sized ladder but Van Dam breaks up the pale one’s climb with Sheamus landing on the ladder on the way down.

Sheamus is up almost immediately and rams various people into the barricade before bridging a ladder between the apron and the announce table. Bryan escapes a powerbomb through the ladder and hits a running knee to the face from the apron. Punk is loading up a ladder but Orton makes the save. Another ladder is brought in and all six climb up on two ladders with the briefcase being knocked away. All six fall down and Orton is holding his knee.

It’s Sheamus on his feet first and cleaning house before going up, only to be caught by Bryan. We get the ten forearms on the top of the ladder but Punk stops Sheamus from pulling down the case. Sheamus and Punk slug it out in the corner but Punk hits the running knee to take him down, followed by riding the ladder down onto his back. Orton comes back in and suplexes Punk into the ladder followed by the Elevated DDT.

Christian comes back in and spears Randy down but Van Dam knocks him off the ladder. The fans of course want tables as Christian goes up again. Van Dam is cut on the forehead. They both go up but Van Dam jumps to another ladder as Christian falls. The splash off the top of the ladder crushes Christian but Sheamus shoves Rob off the ladder. Bryan is back in to kick both of them before going into his usual insane rush.

He throws Sheamus THROUGH a ladder and goes up top…..but Curtis Axel of all people comes out with a chair to beat him down. He lays Bryan out with his finisher on the floor but walks into a GTS. Heyman comes out to yell at Axel because he wants Punk to win. CM starts a very slow climb while holding his neck….and Heyman of course screws him by ramming another ladder into him. Punk is busted open BAD and here’s Van Dam going up the ladder, only to have Orton make the save with an RKO. Orton pulls down the case to win at 26:31.

Rating: B-. Well that happened. Seriously that’s about all there is to it. Everyone was about the same but the winner wasn’t terribly obvious for most of the match. It wasn’t bad or anything but you expect more when you have this level of talent in the match. At the end of the day though there was no hatred between these guys and that makes for a duller match. The Heyman stuff was pretty obvious but it sets up Lesnar vs. Punk at Summerslam.

Orton would cash in at Summerslam and turn heel in the process. This would make him champion heading into the end of the year, where he would feud with Cena to be unified champion. The unification match was held at TLC 2013.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs. John Cena

TLC match, winner take all. They have a ton of time to used for this too. Naturally we get big match intros and we’re ready to go. They head into the corner to start and Cena grabs a headlock. The wrestling gets boring though and we get our first ladder and table with the wooden one being set up in the corner. Orton escapes an AA through the table and heads to the floor for a chair. Cena can’t avoid the shot to the back and Randy is in control.

They head outside again but Orton misses a chair shot and hits the post, allowing Cena to pick up the chair. A series of chair shots puts Orton down and John loads up another table on the floor. The distraction lets Orton send him into the steps to take over again as the dueling Cena chants begin. Orton tries to climb but Cena makes a fast save. The ladder is thrown to the floor and Orton headbutts him down. Some kicks to the ribs have Cena in trouble but he comes back with knees and right hands, only to walk into the powerslam.

Randy brings in another ladder but gets it rammed into his ribs, allowing Cena to climb. Orton quickly suplexes him down but misses a ladder shot, sending the ladder to the floor. That’s fine with Orton though as he cracks Cena in the back with a chair before wedging it into the corner. Cena blocks the shot into the chair and comes back with his finishing sequence, only to have Orton poke him in the eye and send him into the chair. Another ladder is brought in but Cena makes yet another save.

They both fight on the ladder until Cena throws Orton over the top and through the table. He can’t climb that fast though and Orton pulls him down for an RKO. Both guys are down again but it’s Cena up first with a clothesline to send him to the floor. Cena blasts Orton in the head with the steps and Randy might be busted a little bit. John brings in another table, giving us two tables in opposite corners. With all of the metal stuff at ringside, Orton hits Cena in the head with the microphone to take over again.

Orton loads up the announce table but instead clears out a path to Cena. John avoids the Punt though and catches Orton in an AA through the table to put both guys down again. Cena very slowly gets back in and grabs both belts without pulling them down. Instead it’s Orton shoving the ladder away to leave Cena hanging, allowing Orton a free shot with the chair. Cena comes right back with a spear through one of the tables and both guys are down again.

Randy heads outside again and starts peeling back the mats to find some hidden handcuffs. Cena gets tied to the bottom rope and Orton teases him with the key. This didn’t work at Breaking Point but call backs to old matches are usually fun. Cena tries to break the chain as Orton goes to pick up the big ladder for some shots to Cena’s ribs.

Randy goes back inside as Cena beats on the cuffs with a chair to no avail. Cena pulls hard enough to rip the bottom rope off and go up to knock Orton off the ladder but he only has one free arm due to the rope. Orton grabs the rope and uses the power of gravity to pull Cena down, sending him head first into the table which DOESN’T BREAK. That looked bad. Orton goes up again and pulls down both titles for the surprise win at 24:35.

Rating: B. I liked the match and the ropes idea was good, but that ending came out of nowhere. Given how badly Cena’s head went into that table, I wouldn’t be shocked if he had an actual injury. Orton winning makes more sense but I’m kind of shocked it was clean. Well as clean as you can get in a TLC match of course. Good stuff here but the ending leaves a lot of doors open.

I’m a big Orton fan and have been for a long time. I know he may not be the most interesting wrestler in the world but the guy is capable of having good matches with almost anyone. Yeah he gets repetitive a lot, but he has an awesome finisher and has figured out his character perfectly. He’ll be around for several more years and will win a ton more World Titles, as he deserves to do.

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  1. M.R. says:

    I’m a big Orton guy myself, but this was pretty underwhelming.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    How so?

    M.R. Reply:

    His career just seems a bit lackluster, none of these matches are really standouts.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Not everything has to be a series of classics. Rock for instance doesn’t really have a ton of classic matches to his name.

  2. M.R. says:

    I suppose, though Rock’s imprint will always be behind the mic moreso than his matches.

  3. Jerichoholic94 says:

    Surprised you didn’t include Orton vs Foley at Backlash for the IC Title. Thought that was one of his best matches. I’m a big Orton fan

    M.R. Reply:

    His best match by far in my opinion.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    ….oh dear.

    M.R. Reply:

    You disagree?

    klunderbunker Reply:

    More like I can’t believe I forgot that one. Same with the handicap match at WM XX.

  4. Jerichoholic94 says:

    Can’t believe I sold the handicap match short actually looking back on it that was a great one too. The whole foley feud was great and IMO made Orton into a bigger player and eventually a main event talent

  5. M.R. says:

    Btw, Rock has a hell of a lot more classic matches to his name than Orton. His Mania matches with Austin alone are ten times bigger than anything Randy will ever do.

  6. Jerichoholic94 says:

    Not sure if I agree with you or not..

    M.R. Reply:

    And yet it remains true.

    Jerichoholic94 Reply:

    Give me some matches for an example

    M.R. Reply:

    What? My statement was the first two Rock-Austin matches at Mania are MUCH bigger than anything Orton will do in his career.

  7. Jerichoholic94 says:

    Ok I get that but I mean how much better is The Rock than Orton RING WORK wise? I’m not saying I disagree I’m just trying to compare the twos greatest in ring matches from a psychology and technical stance

    M.R. Reply:

    I’m an Orton fan, but I think Rock’s in-ring work is better. Go watch pretty much any match against Triple H in 2000.

    Between his in-ring skills, mic work, and charisma Rock could easily be considered the greatest performer of all time.

  8. Jerichoholic94 says:

    A match that came to my mind was Rock vs Angle at No Mercy that year and No Way Out a couple months later actually.

  9. Heyo says:

    Orton is REALLY underrated, perhaps more so than Cena(it’s more like they’re hurt by bad booking than bad performances). Whenever he’s in the match, I know he’s gonna give a decent performance at worst, and IMO his match against Reigns at SummerSlam 2014 was good(though you can tell Reigns was struggling to pick him up off the ropes).