Every time somebody in WWE's career isn't going in an ideal direction, cue the question from fans: “Will he go to TNA?”
Randy Orton is the most recent name inserted into this hypothetical after his recent suspension due to a wellness policy violation and uncertainty over what his WWE future holds.
I usually don't like dealing with these kinds of hypothetical scenarios, but I'm going to half-entertain it and half shut it down.
If Orton went to TNA, it wouldn't matter. Randy Orton isn't a game-changer in the professional wrestling competition (will not say war) between WWE and TNA. If you ask Vince McMahon, TNA isn't competition because it is in the wrestling business and WWE is in this entertainment business.
Despite what McMahon wants to say, right now, TNA is the closest thing to competition for WWE in the wrestling genre.
As I said, Orton isn't a game-changer. There are a few guys who, if they showed up in TNA right now, the landscape could change. Those names, not necessarily in this order of significance, would be John Cena, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, The Undertaker, The Rock and anyone with the last name McMahon.
In the long-term, Jim Ross or Paul Heyman could be game-changers if given full control of TNA's wrestling operations.
There are other names who would create a buzz, wrestling fans would talk, but it wouldn't be a game-changer.
When Hulk Hogan went to WCW in 1994. that was a game-changer. It took some time and more pieces of the puzzle to fully utilize it, but it changed the landscape of the business, with Vince losing his top record-setting draw.
Hogan went to WCW and, all of the sudden, the company and its paydays become more appealing to other big-name talents.
Randy Orton doesn't have that kind of value. Randy Orton especially doesn't have that value if he went to TNA only because he got fired from WWE. If for whatever reason, he decided on his own accord to leave WWE and showed up on TNA, it's a big buzz. Orton, on his own decision-making, leaving to go to TNA has some weight to it. It isn't game-changing, but it's a headline.
If Randy Orton shows up on TNA in the next year because he can't work for WWE due to wellness policy violations, then TNA is just picking up the scraps. Orton would be taking the next best paycheck available.
So what do I think will happen with Randy Orton's future? I don't think WWE will release him. It would pay him to sit home before it let the 32-year-old, who established his name via WWE dollars and time, become a free agent.
I could see WWE, if legally possible, wanting to restructure Orton's contract. You threaten that you're going to release him, tell him he can stay with the company, work his way back up, but it has to be under a different contract. Decrease the amount of years, or at least how much money he is making with the a possible incentive for better money after so many years of good performance and good behavior.
How can you justify paying a guy like Orton main-event money for another eight years and have him in anything lower than the main-event level?
I know Orton hasn't been in the world title matches consistently, but WWE promotes him as one of its top faces for live events. This wouldn't happen if his deal was restructured. It wouldn't happen because he would be less of a priority, making less money and there is a big risk involved. One more violation and you have to immediately pull him out of whatever storyline he's involved in and fire him.
Advertising a star to the audience and that star not being delivered to the audience because of their own mistakes is the biggest disservice you can do to wrestling fans.
If a guy can't make it to a show because of a family emergency, it's unfortunate but it's understandable. If a guy can't make it to a show because he decides to not go or his actions force the company to pull him off the card, not acceptable.
Perhaps Randy Orton should have took notes from his Twitter buddy Kurt Angle when there was a back and forth over the use of the "Angle Slam."
The rumors and reports surrounding Kurt Angle's WWE departure in 2006 have involved his personal health and lifestyle. How much of this is true is only known by those involved in the situation, but regardless, Angle was able to create the proper buzz. He created the buzz, got himself a top-star contract and probably will still return to WWE before it's all over with.
Regardless of what factors led to it, the public perception at the time was Angle quit WWE on his own decision and then created a surprise and buzz when showing up on TNA. Orton should have gotten out of WWE earlier if he was going to go down this path.
Randy Orton is a tremendous talent, but from here on out, he is either at the mercy of WWE's punishment for his behavior or a kicked-to-the-curb wellness-policy-violator who is left with no choice but TNA.