Currently serving a 60-day suspension for violation of the WWE's wellness policy, the most talented performer in the industry is quickly approaching his return to the squared circle.
Fans have speculated about a possible heel-turn.
Ortonites continue to wonder exactly when and where The Viper will make his official return.
WWE Raw 1,000 offers an opportunity to see both.
If July 23rd, 2012 falls within the 60-day sentence that Orton has to serve as part of his suspension, I implore the WWE to make an exception.
The thousands upon thousands of fans in sold-out attendance at the Scottrade Center would want for you to make an exception.
The entire WWE Universe deserves to see an exception—it's just good business.
Don't punish the millions of fans worldwide and the thousands of fans in attendance for Orton's mishap. He's served every day of his suspension thus far without the Universe hearing so much as a peep from him.
If the biggest wrestling event in the history of television proceeds without the company's top performer, it would be an "entertainment tragedy" of the highest order.
Especially with so much potential in St. Louis.
You see, Randy Orton has the opportunity to send shockwaves throughout the WWE Universe.
The man they once called the "Legend Killer" can return to his instinctive roots, using his own real-life situation to see a heel-turn that has been two years long overdue.
This is how it could happen.
John Cena announced on Raw last night that he will cash in his Money in the Bank contract to face CM Punk for the WWE Championship at Raw 1,000.
The only way to make the results of the Money in the Bank PPV along with the Championship match itself relevant is for one of two things to happen:
A) Cena wins the WWE Championship.
B) The match ends with controversy brought about by an unexpected return.
I opt for option "B".
Allow Cena and Punk to go toe-to-toe in a "Match of the Year" quality bout.
With both men fighting exhaustion, Cena rises to his feet prepared to deliver the Attitude Adjustment to Punk.
At that moment, the hometown hero comes in from the crowd, jumps the barricade and delivers a swift and sudden RKO to Cena. Orton and Cena have had their history together, which is all the motivation The Viper would need to drop him instantly
Cena wins the match via disqualification.
This would leave Punk crawling on his knees and fighting fatigue, confused as to why Orton would help him retain the championship. As Punk looks into the eyes of The Viper, Orton delivers a sudden and vicious punt to the WWE Champion's skull.
Cena attempts to get up after just having taken an RKO. At that moment, Orton punts Cena directly in the skull too for good measure.
Both competitors are laid out, "kayfabe" concussed, and Orton picks up the WWE Championship and holds it high above his head.
The show closes with Orton's intentions made obvious, staking his claim to the WWE Championship.
The next week on Raw, Orton explains his actions.
He touches on his real-life suspension and the fact that "toning it down" for the past two years has gotten him nowhere. He's insulted for having been pushed down the card to deal with the likes of Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett and Kane—completely removed from the championship scene.
He mocks the fact that CM Punk claims to be the "Best in the World".
Making reference to costing Punk the World Heavyweight Championship at Unforgiven 2008, defeating him at both WrestleMania XXVII and Extreme Rules 2011, Orton says that Punk's claim is ridiculous and an insult to everything he stands for.
Orton says that John Cena's days of being the No. 1 guy in the industry are numbered.
Making reference to his countless victories over Cena in the past, Orton stresses the fact that Cena at "his best" (remember that for later on) does not have what it takes to compete with him.
With both Cena and Punk injured, it is announced that the WWE Championship will have to be vacated if Punk is unable to physically defend it at SummerSlam. In the meantime, a large battle royale is held on Raw that night to determine the new number one contender.
Randy Orton dominates this match.
If the fans notice anything different about Orton's performance, it's his drive and obsession to be more ruthless than he's ever been before. Monday Night Raw episode No. 1,001 ends with a new number one contender and questions regarding Punk's ability to defend the title in the coming weeks.
After a few weeks of build-up, CM Punk states that nothing will prevent him from defending his title against Randy Orton at SummerSlam. He reiterates his "Best in the World" claim by stating that he doesn't need to be 100-percent to defeat Orton.
John Cena returns, claiming that Orton's interference at Raw 1,000 cost him the fair title shot he deserved as a result of winning the Money in the Bank ladder match.
With Orton having already earned the number one contender spot and with CM Punk currently holding the WWE Championship, Cena is added to SummerSlam's main-event, making the match a Triple Threat.
The match supersedes Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H, adding some much-needed credibility to the WWE title and establishing itself once again as the centerpiece of the WWE Universe.
Both Punk and Cena are cleared to compete, but doctors stress the fact that neither of them will be 100-percent. An unofficial alliance between the two men helps to balance the power of the match. Even though Cena and Punk detest each other, the mutual understanding is to make certain that there is no way Randy Orton walks out of the Staples Center in Los Angeles as the WWE Champion.
A good match that sees both Cena and Punk stand their ground, working to double-team Orton during brief moments, also shows both men displaying partial concussion symptoms. At a split second, where John Cena shakes his head to regain full consciousness, Randy Orton hits him suddenly with an RKO and pins him 1-2-3.
Orton is crowned the new WWE Champion, seeing Punk lose the title without being pinned.
The next night on Raw, Punk claims that he could have easily beaten Orton if he was 100-percent (going back on what he claimed weeks earlier). He says that John Cena's involvement in his championship match only further complicated matters—proof that, once again, the company only revolves around two men (Cena and Orton).
Disgusted, Punk threatens to leave Raw all together; claiming that it would be "impossible" to maintain a locker room relationship with not one, but two of the WWE's "favorites".
It's decided that Punk will take Randy Orton's roster spot on Smackdown and that with his departure, John Cena would be named the number one contender due to the fact that he wasn't 100-percent at SummerSlam.
The Randy Orton vs. John Cena program is built towards a one-on-one match at Night of Champions.
With both men at 100-percent, they compete against each other blow for blow.
As the match progresses, the referee is knocked out when Orton throws Cena into the corner where the official was standing.
With no referee conscious, Cena and Orton continue to compete until both men are so drained that they cannot keep to their feet.
At that moment, CM Punk rushes to the ring and delivers a GTS to the WWE Champion—revenge for Orton's interference at Raw 1,000 and for taking his title at SummerSlam.
Both Cena and the referee come to, as Cena crawls across the ring to pin Orton for the 1-2-3.
This ends the Night of Champions PPV with all three men reaching epic levels of momentum:
1) Randy Orton: hyped off his sudden return, partial heel-turn and major victory at SummerSlam. He didn't lose the title in clean fashion, so his stock remains high.
2) John Cena: for finally having captured the WWE Championship for the first time in almost a year.
3) CM Punk: for never cleanly losing the title in the first place, evening the score with Orton and becoming the "fresh face" on Smackdown with all the hype needed for a push towards the World Heavyweight Championship.
It's a dream story-plot, I'll give you that.
But honestly, do you really expect the WWE to deliver better?
Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report. Any questions, comments or professional inquiries can be directed to his email at: email@example.com
Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/theryanmichael