From Evolution to Destiny: Randy Orton's Road to WrestleMania
It's been a match nearly seven years in the making. From an evolving star to a ruthless Legend Killer to a man hearing voices, Randy Orton has traveled the long road to WrestleMania a time or two before.
This, however, is his biggest triumph yet; he's on the WWE's biggest Superstars today, and I thought that worthy enough to track Orton's fantastic WWE career.
"I am the future of this business"
Third generation Superstar Randy Orton was born Apr. 1, 1980-- the son of "Cowboy" Bob Orton, the nephew of Barry O and the grandson of Bob Orton, Sr.
"This is what I've wanted to do my whole life."
Orton's career, however, almost never took off. An amateur wrestler during his days at Hazelwood High School, Orton was discouraged from professional wrestling.
A summer after he graduated, Orton enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Finishing boot camp as a squad leader, the future WWE star went AWOL once he reached the fleet—taking a Greyhound bus back to St. Louis.
He'd spend 38 days in a military prison.
"In this business, it's about making an impact."
In 2001, Orton signed with World Wrestling Entertainment, and competed in Ohio Valley Wrestling before moving to the main roster.
Besides his debut, where he defeated Hardcore Holly on SmackDown! in April 2002, it was no easy road. Upon being drafted to RAW, Orton suffered a shoulder injury.
But not to worry, fans: he kept us all updated with the Randy News Network, giving fans weekly updates on his rehab.
"Greatness has entered the ring! Thank you very much, you may bow at will."
Returning to RAW fully recovered, Orton was recruited into Evolution, a stable representing the WWE's past (Ric Flair), present (Triple H) and future (Orton and new superstar, Batista).
After a rocky start when both newcomers were injured, the group would all become champions at Armageddon 2003. Orton was instrumental in several of Triple H's title retainments.
"It's not arrogance... it's destiny!"
A brash, arrogant Randy Orton won his first major WWE title, the Intercontinental Championship, from Rob Van Dam at Armageddon, and began one of the longest Intercontinental title reigns in WWE history, before losing it to Edge in December.
"I pride myself on being a Legend Killer."
The year of the Legend Killer was 2004, where Orton feuded with greats like Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels, and even fellow Evolution member Ric Flair.
The Legend Killer was also notorious for spitting in the face of legends like Harley Race, and RKO-ing the likes of Jake "The Snake" Roberts and even the Fabulous Moolah-- on her 80th birthday, no less.
"My accomplishments are endless!"
Summerslam: August, 2004. It's Toronto, the Air Canada Centre. The day a 24 year old Randy Orton would become the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in WWE history.
Who knew it'd cost him Evolution: the next night, Orton was viciously attacked by his stable, beginning a feud that would prove costly.
Less than a month after he won the title, Orton was defeated by The Game at Backlash.
"The only true phenom... is me."
Leaving Evolution behind him, Orton decided to cement his own legacy... by challenging the Undertaker for his undefeated WrestleMania streak.
It would be Legend vs. Legend Killer, as well as the end to Orton's on-screen relationship with Stacy Keibler—much to the delight of female fans everywhere.
Orton lost the historic match to Taker, becoming The Deadman's 13th victim. He was also sidelined the next night after injuring his shoulder in a match with Batista.
"There's no stopping Randy Orton!"
Orton, though, wasn't done with the Undertaker. He even brought his father "Cowboy" Bob Orton in on the feud—which resulted in a casket filled with fake Ortons, the stealing of 'Taker's urn, and a two-on-one Hell in a Cell match. Again, the Ortons would come up short.
"Maybe he is in hell, maybe not... I don't know, and I don't care!"
If you thought the vicious Legend Killer wouldn't go this far—you don't know Randy Orton. Once his feud with 'Taker proved fruitless after their Cell match, Orton decided to go after something that had alluded since his Evolution days: the World Heavyweight Championship.
Orton was eliminated, however, by Rey Mysterio in the Royal Rumble, and decided to challenge him at No Way Out for his title opportunity. Adding insult to eventual injury, the Legend Killer began insulting Mysterio's best friend, Eddie Guerrero—even suggesting that Latino Heat was in hell.
And while Mr. RKO won the battle by winning Mysterio's title shot, he would lose the war to Mysterio in a triple-threat match at WrestleMania.
"DX, I got two words for you... it's over!"
After a short feud with Hulk Hogan over, among things, his daughter Brooke, Orton was approached from another top heel—Edge. Shawn Michaels, and Triple H reformed as Degeneration X, and had been causing problems with the Rated-R Superstar.
Ergo, Edge and Orton formed Rated RKO, and eventually became World Tag Team Champions.
The tag team force ended after an unsuccessful feud with HBK and John Cena, and the fact that both wanted the WWE Championship.
"Not only am I better looking... I'm just plain better."
Orton's next big feud was with none other than fellow OVW trainee and WWE Champion John Cena. Cena defeated the Legend Killer at SummerSlam, but only after Orton kicked the champ's father in the head—sound familar?
"The Age of Orton has begun."
Randy Orton becoming WWE Champion, then lost the title, then became WWE Champion again at No Mercy 2007, after foe John Cena was stripped of the title.
Orton was given the title by chairman Vince McMahon, then was defeated by Triple H, who retained it against Umaga, who then lost it to the Legend Killer.
Did you get all that? Point is: Orton=Champion.
"Trust me when I say: you do NOT want to miss this!"
During his time as champion, Randy Orton feuded with Jeff Hardy, JBL, and even...Cody Rhodes.
"It is my DESTINY."
Losing the title to Triple H at Backlash was one thing; but the pair's Last Man Standing match at One Night Stand in 2008 saw Orton lose much more than that.
The King of Kings made sure the Age of Orton didn't return—and sidelined Orton for nearly six months with a broken collarbone.
The self-proclaimed "One Man Dynasty" is back. He's formed Legacy, his answer to the stable that threw him to the curb all those years ago. And he's going after the WWE Championship again, after taking out the entire McMahon family.
His match with Triple H is one of, if not the, most anticipated match at this year's WrestleMania.
We'll have to wait until Apr. 5 to see what destiny has to offer the man called Randy Orton.