I do not need to tell you Randy Orton has been suspended 60 days for a wellness policy violation. I do need to tell you some possible paths the Viper can take on his road to returning to the squared circle.
Randall Keith Orton is a tremendously talented wrestler. Orton has been in the WWE for about 10 years now. During his time with the company, Orton has largely been in the main event. He has shifted from an Evolution lackey to the Legend Killer and then to his current role as the Viper.
There are some benefits to his suspension in the midst of the initial uproar over the news.
He will be given some time off in the summer months. Time off will allow him to recuperate from the wear and tear of the grueling WWE schedule. His character can get a reassessment by WWE brass. That reassessment will only bode well for the Viper and his fans.
With that said, here are five possible scenarios for Randy Orton once he returns from his suspension.
Is it conceivable that Randy Orton will be wrestling for the other blue brand in the near future?
Before you jump on this idea, keep in mind we have seen similar moves in the past. Nobody expected Jeff Hardy to leave WWE for TNA after his white-hot run on SmackDown back in 2009.
Benefits: Orton has a ready-made feud with Mr. Anderson. Mr. Anderson vs. Randy Orton would undoubtedly be a huge match for Bound for Glory or LockDown.
Orton can also have matches with the likes of James Storm, Bobby Roode, AJ Styles, plus countless others. The relaxed drug policy will entice Orton into signing with TNA.
Cons: WWE won't fire Orton anytime soon. It is doubtful Orton actually jumps ship given his close relationship with WWE stalwart Triple H. TNA can't afford to match his WWE salary.
Verdict: While this is a very bold proposition for Orton, it is doubtful that the Viper actually leaves WWE anytime soon. If he gets suspended a third time, it is almost a slam dunk he heads to TNA.
It is no secret Randy Orton operates better as a heel than a face. Then again, so does 95 percent of the roster.
So what happens if Orton turns heel?
Benefits: For starters, Randy Orton will clearly become the No. 1 heel in the WWE. WWE has not had a top-flight heel in a long time. Orton could even manage a psychotic heel like Dean Ambrose. It could help WWE in the long run with building up their faces.
Cons: Orton is extremely over in his current character. Furthermore, there is a major shortage of main-event faces on the roster. Turning Orton heel would only disrupt the face-heel dynamic.
Verdict: In short, I would not turn Orton heel right now. He is just too popular with the fans.
John Laurinaitis is the vacuum of entertainment of an entertainment company. He is so bad that he makes for good TV. His performances are cringe worthy yet must-see.
Randy Orton can accuse Laurinaitis of spiking his drug test sample to eliminate a potential threat to his rule. This would be a storyline etched in the annals of the Reality Era. Perhaps throw in a rumor that Johnny Ace actually spiked Orton's sample.
There are a plethora of options for this feud.
Orton can face Big Show at SummerSlam. Chris Jericho can align with the entertainment vacuum to reform his tag team with Big Show. We can see a Randy Orton and John Cena vs. Big Show and Chris Jericho tag team match. Perhaps Shaq and Miz can be thrown in there for a six-man tag team match.
Benefits: Orton vs. Laurinaitis has been a feud that has never been seen before.
Cons: There is a reason why this feud has never been seen before.
Verdict: Some fans will party like rock stars if this feud ends with Orton punting Laurinaitis in the skull.
I am suggesting Orton take his sweet time in coming back until the Royal Rumble in 2013. Perhaps WWE can say Orton got "fired" for the drug test. This is a crazy idea that might just work.
Maybe even make it a legitimate release like when WWE released Daniel Bryan. WWE can take advantage of the new Reality Era by fooling the Internet fans.
Benefits: There will be a massive pop when Orton returns at the Royal Rumble. He will be refreshed in time for WrestleMania 29. He will have his first major storyline at WrestleMania since winning the Rumble back in 2009.
Cons: Can WWE really afford to have him take that much time off? Short answer: no. Long answer: heck no.
No Way Out was robbed of its rightful place in the WWE echelon of legendary matches. Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho would have been an outstanding match.
If you count the days, Jericho is out until late June with his suspension, while Orton is out until late July. It makes perfect sense to set up Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho at SummerSlam.
Benefits: This feud makes perfect sense given Orton's vicious attack on Jericho back in 2010. These two gentlemen are proven main-event commodities. They never fail to provide a quality match given a quality opponent.
Cons: Chris Jericho's unclear Fozzy schedule. That alone may prevent this match from taking place anytime soon.
Verdict: If I had to bet money on Chris Jericho's plans, then I would be a poor man. Jericho's plans are as unpredictable as Vince Russo's booking decisions. Since I am not betting any money, my guess is this match will happen at SummerSlam.
If I had to choose Randy Orton's next feud, then it would be with Chris Jericho. Orton and Jericho clearly have unfinished business that needs to be ended at a major pay-per-view such as SummerSlam.
Regardless, Orton's suspension causes a major void on SmackDown. Michael Cole often dubs Orton the "franchise" of SmackDown. Now Sheamus must take that responsibility of being that go-to guy on the Blue Brand.
I have no idea what is going to happen with Randy Orton upon his return. These five scenarios were meant to lay out possible ideas for Orton's return. They are not designed to predict WWE's plans for Orton. Let us just hope Orton learns from his mistakes.
Feel free to throw in your ideas and follow me on Twitter.
Thanks for reading!