Many WWE cans are calling for a Randy Orton heel turn. Heck, Randy Orton is calling for a Randy Orton heel turn. Even WWE seems to have realised it is a good idea, if reports are to be believed.
What is stopping them from making the change? WWE is still grooming Sheamus as the top face of the SmackDown brand. Remember that for house shows the brand split is still in effect, even if it is not on television.
WWE do not feel Sheamus has yet achieved the popularity required to be the top drawing face on the brand.
WWE wants Orton to shoulder that responsibility until Sheamus is ready to take the full load himself and is gradually building Sheamus' resume until he is ready.
I disagree with WWE on this however. Their approach has worked brilliantly up to this point. A feud with a heel Orton would allow Sheamus to make the final jump to WWE's elite tier.
Randy Orton turned face at WrestleMania XXVI.
Since that time he has faced the WWE's top heels including Edge, Christian, Mark Henry and Dolph Ziggler. He had lengthy spells with the World Heavyweight Championship and WWE Championship, the two highest prized titles in the company.
Orton continues to be the alpha face on SmackDown, a position he has held for over a year at this point.
As a face, Randy Orton has little left to really accomplish and few heels left to feud with. WWE is in the process of building new talent but it is a gradual process and it will be some time before there are new heels for Orton to challenge himself again.
A heel turn would stop Orton coming up against all the heels on the roster for a while, allowing them to continue their growth. A feud with Sheamus would also distract the top face remaining on SmackDown, allowing other faces to do battle with these newly rising heels.
Randy Orton favours being a heel. Wrestling journalists and WWE fans alike seem to agree with him on this front.
It would bring out the best in the man, which we have not seen in some time. He is so characterless as a face. Orton has been lacking direction for some time now and his character needs revitalising.
Remember how good he was as the Legend Killer?
WWe should build the Raw and SmackDown brands around men it can really count on.
That means the top guy on the SmackDown roster should not really be a man with two wellness policy violations on his record. One more and WWE will fire him.
From January—April WWE enters "WrestleMania season." The roster will be fleshed out by temporary returning superstars and storylines tend to be at their most interesting.
It is likely that we will see numerous appearances on TV by Triple H, Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker in the lead up to WrestleMania. The Rock will be wrestling at both the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania so will be frequently seen on screens too.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. has said he will be at WrestleMania and there will likely be some build up to that if he is to compete in a match.
Since his retirement, Shawn Michaels has made his presence known in storylines leading up to WrestleMania 27, WrestleMania 28 and SummerSlam 2012 and will likely find a way of sneaking back onto televisions again leading towards WrestleMania 29.
On match day, it is gradually becoming something of a tradition for Jim Ross—as much a draw as many of WWE's wrestlers—to call at least one match.
On top of all those expected returns, rumours persist of Ric Flair rejoining the WWE.
This means WWE can fret less about their usual concerns over having the correct face/heel balance on the roster and booking all their characters correctly—ticket sales and TV ratings will go up regardless.
Randy Orton is competitive and confident. Going face never changed that.
Sheamus likes to fight.
Both men have been known to covet the World Heavyweight Championship and consider themselves the alpha figure on SmackDown.
The two have been shown to be friendly rivals on TV lately. That could easily develop into a more aggressive rivalry if a serious prize like a world title entered the rivalry.
Both men have also been known to show respect. Sheamus was humbled when Big Show defeated him and Randy Orton was willing to follow the leaders of Evolution when he was still learning his craft.
The feud could conclude with the men learning to respect each other. A handshake, like that at the end of The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X8 could guarantee neither man's stock was lowered by defeat, whomever WWE chooses to win the encounter.
The moment when two superstars reach a point of mutual respect has become an iconic image in WWE history, from Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels burying the hatchet to the more comedic "hug it out" moment between Kane and Daniel Bryan.
In June 2013 WWE Studios releases 12 Rounds: Reloaded. This sequel to 2009's successful 12 Rounds will star Randy Orton.
WWE likes the stars of releases by WWE Studios to be faces so they can make appearances on TV chat shows to promote their films without breaking character and generally rally fan support.
However this is a while after WrestleMania, allowing WWE ample time for Orton to make a face change. When a star is as popular as Randy Orton, it is not hard to make fans accept a quick face change.
It has been done successfully in the past by Shawn Michaels with his feud with Hulk Hogan in 2005. He turned heel to launch the feud before turning face at the conclusion of the two men's SummerSlam match.
Hogan himself underwent a similar change at TNA's Bound for Glory 2011 after his match with Sting, lauded by many as a surprising highlight of the PPV.
The face turn could occur with a handshake at the match as I have proposed, or even at May's Extreme Rules PPV if WWE feels Orton's draw as a heel is something it wants to extend.
I would guess he will have started promotional work for the film by this point however, so a face turn at WrestleMania would be more likely.
The Miz is in the process of a face turn. WWE has plans for a Daniel Bryan face turn. I would argue Daniel Bryan is regarded as a face by WWE and the WWE's fans, regardless of his "official" status as a heel, judging by the reactions he receives.
Dolph Ziggler is so popular that WWE will probably turn him face soon.
Cody Rhodes is out of action with an injury. Alberto Del Rio is racing down the roster.
While men like Antonio Cesaro are crawling up the roster, WWE could certainly do with a second major heel.
Right now Raw has a top face (John Cena) and a top heel (CM Punk) as franchise players. SmackDown has two faces in Randy Orton and Sheamus. It could benefit from adjusting the power balance.
I think both men's stock would be brought up by this feud as they are worthy contenders for each other, especially with the "respect" angle I have in mind.
Even if WWE went a different direction with the feud, neither man is one that a superstar would be ashamed of losing to.
If Orton wins and remains above Sheamus on the food chain, the status quo has not changed. If Sheamus wins, he is brought up to Orton's level.
WWE can book the end of this feud however it wants to without risking screwing up the booking of either character.
WWE can watch fan reaction to the feud and use that to decide who wins the match, potentially even changing the ending on the day of the match itself, without significantly altering storylines.
This also means WWE can avoid the sloppy editing of crowd reactions it has become known for doing on SmackDown, attempting to keep storylines going in the direction they deem best regardless of fan opinion.
This proved most obvious recently with Daniel Bryan, who WWE tried to push as a heel in contrast to fans worshiping his talents.
"To Be the Man, You Have To Beat the Man"
Those are the words of Ric Flair. Well, I cannot promise you he invented that phrase, but he said it more often than anyone else ever did.
WWE wants Sheamus to be "the man." They want him to be on the same level as Randy Orton. He is only going to get there one way. He has to go through Randy Orton to seize his crown.
No matter how many days Sheamus held the World Heavyweight Championship, that fact was not goin to change. Winning the Royal Rumble did not change it either. Sheamus has feuded with every major heel since turning face and has still not been able to get over on the level of WWE's main event guys.
Randy Orton will be the key factor in completing Sheamus' transition from heel to top face.
During Sheamus' too-much-too-soon early push, he feuded with Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. Reading old reviews of their matches, some are positive, some are negative.
I am sure two men of their standard could achieve higher than that mixed reaction, especially as the positive reviews show some potential.
In their previous singles encounters Orton was the face and Sheamus the heel, so there would be significant differences this time around, enough that it would not feel like they were retreading old turf.
Sheamus was also far newer to WWE then, he has improved dramatically since that time.
More recently the two men were involved in matches, but not singles matches with a real feud behind them.
The men have experience together and know how to work a great match together, so why not let them do it again?
I doubt Big Show will hold on to the World Heavyweight Championship for long. Big Show seems exclusively for helping younger stars get over nowadays.
Adding to that, Mark Henry is due back soon. Before he left WWE due to injuries, Mark Henry was the top "big man" in the WWE. He will probably take that position back from Big Show.
Sheamus has utterly dominated the World Heavyweight Championship scene in 2012 up until his ongoing feud with Big Show. Prior to that, Randy Orton was the man most closely affiliated with the title in 2011.
It seems logical to have this feud centre on the World Heavyweight Championship, doesn't it?
Randy Orton vs. Sheamus has a main event feel. When was the last time the World Heavyweight title had that rub to benefit from?
The title is in desperate need of a revival, having been treated as a near meaningless trinket for a few years now. This is a huge part of the reason the brand split has had to end on TV.
WWE also has plans for Ryback vs. Big Show at WrestleMania. I imagine WWE officials, who never seem keen on the World Heavyweight title, might feel that feuding over that belt might be "beneath" Ryback, who they are pushing as a top name on Raw, WWE's "A show."
WWE is worried fans don't invest enough in Sheamus' matches and that this is part of why he can't get over.
Surely the best way to change that is have him against a cruel Viper, who fans would love to see defeated? Give them a reason to pay attention, rather than putting him in feuds with people fans don't care about like Alberto Del Rio.
CM Punk has shown recently that even when all the fans are behind you, you can still get plenty of heat. I have no doubt Randy Orton can do the same.
Whether he proves to fans that he is as good as Randy Orton or not, at least people would care about him.
If WWE were to turn Randy Orton heel in the build up to TLC or immediately after it, then turn him face again in April, think how much time would have passed.
New stars can be built in that time for Orton to feud with and his face persona would not be nearly as stale.
If WWE is dead-set on having Orton as a face in the long-term, having intermittent breaks where he plays a heel role would be a good way of keeping it interesting.
WWE did this very effectively with Triple H by alternating between presenting him as a competitive heel chasing world titles and an entertaining face in D-Generation X.
I was always surprised fans were so quick to buy into his character changes as they were among the more drastic ones in WWE and fairly numerous from the moment DX formed all the way up to his retirement as a full-time wrestler in early 2010.
Using world titles to facilitate heel/face turns is something many wrestlers in WWE have used.
When Orton and Sheamus competed in a fatal-four-way at Over the Limit, a small feud began to emerge between the two.
Unfortunately it was cut short, but the seeds were placed for the coming conflict and gave us a hint of what to expect.
A major, extended feud could be so much better than this rushed one.
Should Randy Orton turn heel?
Should he feud with Sheamus?
Have these two men spent too much time around the world title scene in recent years for one of them to deserve another run?
Please leave comments below or contact me on Twitter: @TheRamblingElf