The Former Head of Talent Relations in WWE Jim Ross has discussed why he had to twist WWE Chairman Vince McMahon’s arm to hire Randy Orton.
Jim Ross oversaw the building of several iterations of the WWE roster as he brought legends such as Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, and Dwayne Johnson into the company.
Following the Attitude Era and the demise of WCW, JR was once again tasked to find stars for the future and used the company’s developmental territory of Ohio Valley Wrestling to send the next crop of WWE Superstars.
Soon the company struck gold with a class of competitors that boasted Brock Lesnar, Batista, John Cena, Shelton Benjamin, and Randy Orton – all future champions in WWE.
Discussing Randy Orton on his Grilling JR podcast [available early at AdFreeShows.com], the current voice of AEW explained why Orton’s chequered past made him a tough sell to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon:
“Every recruiting story is different. I had a hard sell to get Randy Orton hired because of his negative exit from the Marines, and Vince, being a strong patriot, didn’t like how that worked out with Randy in the military. I said, ‘Didn’t you get a second chance, [Vince]? Well, what’s the difference with this kid? He’s third generation. If he hits, look what we have. If he doesn’t hit, I can get rid of him in 90 days notice. What do we have to lose?’”
“He’s going to end his career as one of the greatest talents. Hall of Famer, no doubt, but also going to be regarded by his peers as one of the greatest in-ring workers. It worked out well.”
Before embarking on a career that saw him become a fourteen-time champion of the world in WWE, Randy Orton served as a US Marine. He received a bad conduct discharge in 1999 and spent 38 days in a military prison at Camp Pendleton after going AWOL and disobeying an order from a commanding officer. These things did catch up with Orton when he signed on for the starring role of The Marine 3, only to end up being replaced by The Miz.