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Recognizing the Importance of Randy Orton in WWE – by Mike Sanchez

As we get older, the days and weeks can pass us by like the blink of an eye. I’m already asking myself where January went and still finding it hard to comprehend half of February has passed me by. It’s a natural feeling as one gets older to feel time is speeding up or thinking that our memories all blur into one vague recollection that we can’t quite pinpoint accurately in our minds. A way to prove this is thinking back to when you were a kid and remembering the summer vacations seemed to last a lifetime, whereas now, as adults, those weeks around summertime can be over in a heartbeat – then again, for parents of young children, sometimes summer can feel like it lasts forever.

This is also true when we think back and realize certain events happened way longer ago than we originally thought or people have been around for longer than we think For example; Randy Orton is only two years older than me, yet I thought I was way younger than I was when he first arrived in WWE. In actuality, Orton first appeared on WWE TV in April 2002, when I was 20 (but young at heart, I suppose) and from that moment, he’s been a regular fixture in the biggest wrestling promotion ever since. A seventeen-year career. Not many wrestlers have that longevity or success and the guy is still in his thirties (he’ll be 39 in April). But why am I writing about Orton, I hear you ask? It’s because I believe he has a large role to playiIn WWE going forward and still can be very important to the product.

I‘ve always liked Randy Orton and what he brings to the ring. Yes, there are some who don’t like him and that’s their prerogative, but I’ve always been a fan. He’s one of the most natural wrestlers out there. His athletic ability is excellent, his persona, though sometimes one-dimensional, is believable. He’s cocky, arrogant and condescending and he should be because he can back it up.

His finisher is one of the best because it can literally come out of nowhere and is one of the most impressive and believable finishers in professional wrestling. The RKO (or modified Diamond Cutter, depending how you view it) is a high-impact, devastating move that ends a match in a second. Some say Orton should’ve been better in his career than he was and should’ve achieved much more than he did. Well, for a guy who has won the World Heavyweight Championship (4 times), The WWE Championship (9 times), the Intercontinental Championship, a two time Tag Champion, a United States Champion, a Money in the Bank winner and a two-time Royal Rumble winner, I’d say he’s done ok, wouldn’t you?

Moving on to recent events. After a brief time away from the limelight, Orton returned and has now found himself entering the match last at this Sunday’s PPV event Elimination Chamber. Orton isn’t there to make up the numbers, and even though Daniel Bryan is likely to walk out of the chamber still champion, Orton will make enough noise to make fans stand up and pay attention.

Rumors of an Orton vs AJ Styles match at Wrestlemania may be gathering pace, but it’s by no means a filler match for the biggest show of the year. Since Styles debuted in WWE he has only faced Randy Orton once on television (in 2017). Call it luck, call it coincidence or just plain smart booking, but it is something to consider going forward.

I’ve always been a fan of brand splits for that particular reason. It keeps ‘dream match’ options open for the writers and also ensures that the pool doesn’t get too diluted by having fans see every possible matchup on the roster. Once in a while, two wrestlers will gravitate towards one another as they’re high up their respective cards and have faced all opponents available to them. They’ll look across to the other show and see someone staring back at them. Though both these stars are on Smackdown Live, Styles and Orton are yet to have a serious interaction or feud. I like the way WWE are booking this, because we only have that one previous match to go on and it does raise questions as to who will win.

On one hand, there’s AJ Styles who has been a mainstay of Smackdown Live for a while now and consistently delivers high quality matches. On the other hand, there’s Randy Orton who can put on spectacular matches if he has the right opponent. I’m not going to get carried away and predict a five-star classic, but I’m expecting a match that will better than expected. See, here’s why I believe that Orton is important; he’s a decorated champion and though still relatively young, can be classed as a veteran of the game. He’s not only a credible opponent for Styles, but someone who could beat him. Will that lead to a #1 contender spot to face Daniel Bryan? Who knows? Perhaps Styles will defeat the Viper and challenge Bryan once again? For me, I think Styles will go over purely as heel vs heel matches don’t work very well, unless WWE are planning on turning Orton face – something I think goes against his natural heel character.

I think Orton’s longevity has been the biggest problem with some fans. He’s been there, seen it, and done it all and usually more than once. That’s not something to hold against the guy, it’s something to be celebrated as he’s given the prime of his life and career to WWE and for our entertainment.

We’re lucky to have Randy Orton on our screens and to have witnessed his success. Orton doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who will be wrestling into his later years and will likely hang up his boots to spend more time with his family. I’ll enjoy his matches on TV until he decides he’s had enough and I’ll certainly be looking forward to his match with AJ Styles and what the aftermath will be.