Exploring Randy Orton's Role In Current WWE Landscape by Matt Corton

What on earth are WWE going to do with Randy Orton when he comes back?

It’s a question that’s been bugging me a bit. With the main event congestion brilliance that’s been taking place on Raw the past few weeks, I’m not sure there’s exactly an open slot for Randy to step right back into.

But that’s crazy, isn’t it? Someone who is so over with the fans, whose finishing move is the subject of a million memes, or so it seems, to not be part of the main event picture? On the face of it, crazy is exactly what it is, and on that face value it’s crazy for three reasons. Randy is a veteran, a seasoned champ and over as hell as either a face or a heel. He’s a shoe in to go right back into the title picture…on the face of it.

With other veterans like Kane, Mark Henry and Big Show winding down, Trips and the Rock having had (hopefully) their last title runs and Cena also well into the status of career twilights, Randy is probably the most marketable vet the company has. He’s not just a returning mid-carder either; this guy was arguably co-face of the company with John Cena for a while. The guy has 11 titles, a unique character and the most over finisher in the company.

Yep, it’s crazy to say he’s not coming back to the top.

Isn’t it?

Well, the thing is, the face value of something is so often not the truest indicator of its worth. There’ll be plenty of people arguing the toss that Randy Orton is the perfect guy to job to the guys coming up, to help put them over as the next big things. There’ll be plenty of people baying for Orton to lose to Zayn, Styles, the Bullet Club guys, Cesaro…the list will go on.

But the thing is; there’s no way he loses all of those feuds. Randy Orton rarely loses feuds. He puts people over, sure, but the guy wins a heck of a lot. He’s not laying down for all of those guys, he’s going to beat more than a few of them. Which is exactly right, because there’s other legends WWE can bring back and use like Chris Jericho, the aforementioned Kane and Big Show, Trips himself and others if they want people to lie down, but it’s also right to say that if he wins against the up and comers a little too often for the audience’s liking, he’ll be accused of burying people.

There’s the face of things here too – Randy Orton the guy who loses all the time doesn’t work as a character or a personality.

It’s easier for Cena and Rollins, I think, when they return. Their places on the card are easier to predict. Cena either goes straight for the US title again or goes straight for Roman Reigns (I think it’s this, and he loses that) or goes straight for the Intercontinental Championship (bear with me on that). He goes straight for someone, anyway.

Same with Rollins, he either goes straight for Reigns or Triple H. He has to go straight back to the top where he came from because…well, I’m sure he’s due a title rematch as pretty much his first match back? I made that prediction in my predictions for 2016 and I’m sticking to it. Then we hopefully get Rollins vs. Owens and I’m a very happy WWE camper.

Randy Orton, though…I can’t quite picture where he fits in any more. Personally I don’t think he’s ever going to add to his 11 reigns as champ and nor do I ever see him going for a secondary title. Tag team? Perhaps, but I don’t see why or how. He’s been tag champ before with Edge, so there’s no reason for him to go back after those belts.

So I had an idea.

What if he chased the grand slam?

There have only been six ‘modern’ grand slam winners (Tag titles, US title, Intercontinental title and the big belt) and they are Edge, Big Show, Miz, Eddie Guerrero, Daniel Bryan and Kurt Angle.

It’s an easy set up. You have Miz or Big Show as one of the minor champions. Randy comes back and before he’s even had a match he’s walking down the corridor and overhears Show or Miz talking about how they’re one of the Big Six. Randy hears them bragging, maybe one of them has been going on about it for a few weeks, and something clicks – RKO to Miz or Show and we’re on our way.

Now, as a face, Randy can easily go after those two belts alone, maybe even holding them both at the same time, and they can use that as a way to unify the minor titles. That’s what I’d do, but I don’t think WWE is getting rid of either of the minor titles just yet.

But picture the scenario. Randy has beaten (let’s say) the Miz for the Intercontinental title. John Cena is sniffing around trying to complete his own grand slam (if he hasn’t done it already) with the one belt he hasn’t won. Cena has lost to Reigns by this point and is back out of the main event picture again, until he beats Ric Flair’s record next year anyway, and at the same time Randy Orton has embroiled himself in (again, let’s say) Kalisto’s US title space. He’s become Napoleon, foolishly fighting on two fronts and over-extending himself.

Losing his rag as he loses the non-title matches, he turns heel, and wonders what he can do to make sure he captures the US title whilst at the same time not losing the Intercontinental title because Randy Orton hates to lose. Well, one way of making sure he does that is to have a little bit of help from his friends.

So Randy would have to make some friends. Grand slam or not, I think Randy Orton’s best next step is to once again lead a faction. I know he’s done it before with Legacy, and been part of both The Authority and Evolution, but do you know what? I enjoyed Randy as leader of the Legacy and I thought it brought out some of his best work. As soon as you open Randy’s world up to the head of a faction, the options are actually endless. He could again, as he did with Legacy, almost mentor two up and comers on their way up.

I think the perfect people to help him on his grand slam quest would be The Revival. Two guys who are as pure heel as you can get, would be keen on using Randy to help them get where they want to be, and wouldn’t tarnish Randy’s loner image too much while they do that because they’re not people persons either. Randy could be very much in charge, which from Legacy we know heel Orton likes to be, not playing well with others and all that, and use his shenanigans to finally – and importantly for the surrounding feuds, before Cena – complete his dream of being the seventh modern grand slam winner.

Of course, then we’d get what seems to be the almost yearly Randy Orton vs. John Cena feud, this time for that Intercontinental title so John could complete his own grand slam, but that match is something we are undoubtedly going to have to suffer through again anyway, so it might as well be for a minor belt.

Now, if I’m honest, I agree with those people reading the above who are thinking it’s all a bit far-fetched and I’ve fantasy booked myself into the position of someone who doesn’t look like he knows what he’s talking about. I don’t think WWE really cares about the grand slam as a ‘thing’ and I hardly ever hear any wrestlers talking about it, so the idea of it becoming the focus of a major player’s feud is fanciful, but I fancy it because I really don’t fancy the idea of Randy Orton slotting back in at the top of the card as a main event jobber.

I think in this ‘new era’ we’re apparently living through right now, I don’t know if you even need the up and comers to have to go over the wily old veterans like they used to. If you drive the matches through storylines and credible win and loss records then you don’t need the big victory that propels them onto greater things. I honestly don’t believe it cements the wrestlers in peoples’ minds in the way it used to because now, if you want to see Shinsuke Nakamura’s credentials, you just go online and check it out on your phone. You don’t need to see him beat John Cena to ‘get over’, his body of work does that for him.

That’s why I love that Chris Jericho beat Styles at ‘Mania – I don’t think winning or losing that match would have hurt Styles at all, I think it didn’t matter. Same with Zayn having lost all his major matches so far – it doesn’t really matter. We don’t need to stick too many of these new main-eventers in scenarios to ‘see how they do’ – we know what they can do already and so do WWE.

They’re all veterans, really – all except the champ and to be honest, there’s times that shines through. And who’s the one getting booed? The green newbie, the star they’re trying to make, the very embodiment of everything we’ve been asking them to do for years.

No, I don’t really believe my fantasy booking has any chance of coming off. I think this is what actually happens – Randy faces Reigns and loses, faces the Wyatts again and wins and then goes on to face Brock Lesnar further down the line.

Right?

What do you guys think? Does Randy come back and barrel straight on where he left off, or would you rather see him in a new faction?