Legends of Wrestling: Randy Orton
Randy Orton, the WWE’s apex predator, joined the SmackDown! roster in 2002. The third generation superstar was victorious in his debut match against Hardcore Holly, but soon suffered an elbow injury which kept him out of action for the remainder of the year. In 2003, he joined the RAW roster and was recruited along with Dave Batista by Triple H and “Nature Boy” Ric Flair to form the group “Evolution.” The objective of this faction was for Orton and Batista to be mentored by Triple H and Ric Flair and, perhaps primarily, ensure that Triple H held onto the World Heavyweight Championship.
Orton defeated Shawn Michaels at Unforgiven 2003 and adopted the moniker “Legend Killer.” Orton then won the prestigious Intercontinental Championship from Rob Van Dam at Armageddon 2003. “Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley was the special referee in that match. Orton and Foley quickly developed a rivalry which led to Evolution facing “The Rock & Sock Connection” in a Handicap Match at WrestleMania XX in Madison Square Garden. Evolution was triumphant with Orton scoring the winning pinfall. The one-on-one vendetta between Orton and Foley continued and Orton defeated Foley in a Hardcore Match for the Intercontinental Championship at Backlash 2004. Orton’s reign as Intercontinental Champion came to an end at Vengeance 2004 when he was bested by Edge. Orton bounced back quickly by winning a # 1 Contender’s Battle Royal on Monday Night RAW, earning a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. Orton went on to fulfill his destiny, defeating Chris Benoit at SummerSlam 2004 to become the youngest world champion in WWE history.
Orton’s moment of glory was short-lived however as the jealous Triple H booted him from Evolution. Triple H then defeated Orton for his championship at Unforgiven 2004. Orton was not able to regain the title thanks in part to Ric Flair and Batista, who always protected Triple H. Orton picked up a win against his former mentor at Survivor Series 2004 in a traditional tag team elimination match. This was the second year in a row in which Orton was the sole survivor. Orton then took on a daunting task, challenging The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXI in Los Angeles. The Undertaker was undefeated, 12 & 0, in his career at WrestleMania. Orton challenged “The Phenom” with sole objective of breaking what had come to be known as “The Streak.” Randy Orton came closer than anyone before him, but was unable to slay the dragon and Undertaker became 13 & 0. Undertaker and Orton continued their rivalry after Orton was drafted to SmackDown! and Orton picked up a controversial victory at SummerSlam 2005 with the aid of his Hall of Fame father, “Cowboy” Bob Orton. It was both Orton’s against The Undertaker for the rest of 2005. Orton was the sole survivor for a third in year in a row at Survivor Series that year, but the “Dead Man” ensured that his celebration was short-lived by attacking not only Orton, but most of the SmackDown! roster.
Orton, wanting no more troubles with The Undertaker, set his sights on regaining the World Heavyweight Championship and entered the 2006 Royal Rumble Match at # 30, but was the runner-up to Rey Mysterio. Orton then defeated Mysterio at Now Way Out in a # 1 Contender’s Match, leading to a Triple Threat Match with World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle at WrestleMania XXII in Chicago. Mysterio pinned Orton in that match to become the champion and continue his Cinderella story. It was beginning to seem as if the “man of destiny” was a one hit wonder even after he rejoined the RAW roster as he was defeated by Kurt Angle at ECW One Night Stand and “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan at SummerSlam 2006. Orton started to get his career back on track in the fall of that year when he teamed with Edge to form “Rated RKO.” Edge & Orton beat DX (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) at Cyber Sunday in a match where Eric Bischoff was the guest referee, then they won the WWE Tag Team Championships from legends Ric Flair and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper on Monday Night RAW. Rated RKO eventually went their separate ways after continuously clashing egos and losing their titles to the unlikely tag team of Shawn Michaels and John Cena in 2007.
Randy Orton was looking like the legend killer once again in the summer of 2007 with dominant victories over Shawn Michaels, Rob Van Dam, and “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Though Orton failed to defeat John Cena for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam 2007, he injured Cena in an altercation on Monday Night RAW which led to Cena relinquishing the title. WWE Chairman of the Board, Vincent K. McMahon awarded Orton the vacated championship and thus began the “Age of Orton.” Orton’s title reign lasted seven months with successful title defenses against Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 2007, Jeff Hardy at Royal Rumble 2008, and both Triple H and John Cena in a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania XXIV in Orlando. Orton finally lost the championship to Triple H at Backlash, then injured his shoulder in their rematch at One Night Stand.
Randy Orton returned in the fall of 2008 and began mentoring fellow second generation superstars to be as cold and calculating as he is. He and Cody Rhodes were victorious at Survivor Series, defeating a team captained by Batista. Orton took both Rhodes and Ted Dibiase Jr. under his wing to form the group “Legacy.” With the assistance of Rhodes and Dibiase, Orton won the 2009 Royal Rumble Match. This was a must win for Orton as he had pummeled Mr. McMahon the week before on RAW. A guaranteed title shot at WrestleMania XXV protected his employment, but Orton suffered yet ANOTHER loss to Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania XXV in Houston, a match which was overshadowed by The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels. Orton eventually won the WWE Championship three times during 2009, feuding with Triple H, Batista, and John Cena along the way. He also had run-ins with rising star Kofi Kingston, who put Orton through a table on an edition of Monday Night RAW which emanated from Madison Square Garden.
The end of Legacy began at Royal Rumble 2010 when Cody Rhodes inadvertently got Orton disqualified in a match against WWE Champion Sheamus. A month later at the Elimination Chamber PPV, Ted Dibiase eliminated Orton from the chamber match for the WWE Championship. Orton washed his hands of Rhodes and Dibiase, and defeated them both in a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania XXVI in Phoenix. That night, for the first time since 2004, Orton was embraced by the WWE Universe.
Orton continued to battle Sheamus for the WWE Championship for most of 2010. Their match at SummerSlam also ended in a DQ, then Orton won a 6-Pack Match for the title, and finally defeated Sheamus in a Hell in a Cell rematch. Orton successfully defended the championship against Wade Barrett at Survivor Series 2010 in a match where John Cena was the special guest referee, but the next night on RAW, The Miz cashed in his “Money in the Bank” contract and defeated Orton for the title. Orton never regained the title from The Miz, but did defeat CM Punk in a show stealing match at WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta. Orton was then drafted back to SmackDown! and defeated Christian for the World Heavyweight Championship a mere days after Christian had won the title at Extreme Rules 2011. Christian won the title back from Orton at Money in the Bank in a match where the title could actually change hands on a DQ. Orton then won the rubber match, a No Holds Barred Match, at Summer Slam, but lost the championship to the “World‘s Strongest Man” Mark Henry a month later at Night of Champions.
Randy Orton seemed a bit off his game for the next two years. Team Orton was beat by Team Barrett at Survivor Series 2011. Orton was one of the favorites in the 2012 Royal Rumble Match in his own hometown of St. Louis, but Sheamus was the victor. Kane defeated Orton at WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami. Orton was even left off the card for SummerSlam 2012 due to behind the scenes turmoil. Also, Orton was a charter member of Team Foley at Survivor Series 2012 ironically enough, a team which was defeated by Team Ziggler. Orton teamed with The Big Show and Sheamus at WrestleMania XXIX in New Jersey, suffering a loss to The Shield. The Big Show turned on his two partners immediately following the match. Finally, “The Viper” was able to re-ascend the ladder when he won the 2013 Money in the Bank Match for the WWE Championship. Only a month later at SummerSlam, he cashed in, defeating Daniel Bryan, who had just beat John Cena for the WWE Championship. Orton was in collusion with the guest referee, his former mentor Triple H. Randy Orton in now a ten time champion, being backed by Triple H and his in-laws, The McMahons.
Posted on August 24, 2013, in Pro Wrestling, WWF/WWE and tagged Batista, Christian, Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, Dusty Rhodes, Edge, Evolution, Jeff Hardy, John Cena, Kurt Angle, Legacy, Mick Foley, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Ric Flair, Rob Van Dam, Roddy Piper, Royal Rumble, Shawn Michaels, Sheamus, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, Ted DiBiase Jr., The Big Show, The Miz, The Rock, The Shield, The Undertaker, Triple H, Vince McMahon, Wade Barrett, WrestleMania, WWE. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.