There’s no doubting Orton’s ability in the ring. When he debuted in his early-20’s, he had all the tools. For a good run of about seven years, he was one of the most interesting and intense characters on WWE television.
But somewhere around 2013 or 2014, that changed. Orton felt like he was simply going through the motions. As we pointed our in our Backlash review, he became the king of the three-star, just-good-enough-but-never-great match.
Orton’s effort with Edge on Sunday’s pay-per-view was excellent. His showing on RAW last night against Christian was even better.
In case you missed it: Christian came to RAW last night and he was looking to avenge his fallen friend, Edge. Christian, who has been retired, and Orton were scheduled to take part in an unsanctioned fight to end the show.
All night, Ric Flair was trying to talk Christian out of the fight. He kept telling Christian that he had no idea the depths Orton would go.
The time came, and Christian and Orton both entered the ring. Flair came down as well, making one last pitch for Orton to “leave Christian alone” and told Christian to go to the back. Christian said he had to fight Orton, so Flair went to leave. However, just as the bell rang, Flair turned around and from behind hit Christian with a low-blow. That element was almost lost in the story, given how good Orton performed after this.
Flair hit Christian with a low blow and left the ring. Orton then punted Christian in the head and covered him for the quick and easy pin.
After the pin, medical personnel hit the ring to attend to Christian and Orton was begging them to help him. He got down near Christian’s ear and told him that he was sorry, but he had to do it. He said that the second Christian stepped into the ring and threatened his career.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for this to happen, but this is my livelihood and I can’t let you interrupt or destroy my livelihood,” he said.
Orton kept ordering the EMTs to help Christian as he was loaded onto a stretcher and wheeled out, at one point even bending over and getting in Christian’s ear as he laid there out cold.
For the first time in probably seven years, Orton was interesting. His character was interesting and he was part of compelling television. He wasn’t going through the motions. He had viewers hooked. You couldn’t tell if he was genuinely concerned for Christian or if he was going to attack him while he was strapped to a gurney. And why did Flair hit Christian with a low-blow? There were multiple layers to this final segment that could, and should, keep viewers wanting to know what happens next week.
Perhaps Samoa Joe said it best on commentary … “Randy Orton is once again, the legend killer.”