In the opening match of WWE's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, Randy Orton defeated Alberto Del Rio, avenging his poor treatment at hands of the snobbish aristocrat in recent weeks.
The 20-minute match itself was decent and packed with more than a few exciting and gripping moments—although there were a couple of botched spots when the bout appeared to be in danger of falling apart.
The finish came about after Orton hit his foe with a shocking out-of-nowhere RKO, when Del Rio attempted to come off the top rope to attack his injured shoulder. The victory was even more impressive when you consider that Orton, only moments earlier, had his left arm placed in Del Rio's painful arm bar submission hold (like any brave babyface, "The Viper" struggled through instead of submitting).
The crowd in Atlanta were thrilled to see their hero come out on top—and gave Orton a warm ovation afterwards.
So what have we learned from Orton's victory here?
Well, the first is that, despite a tumultuous 2012—he was famously suspended for 60 days back in May for his second violation of the company's drug policy—long-term main eventer Orton remains a priority for the company and they remain committed to pushing him as a top guy.
It's not surprising. For all his issues, Orton is as valuable to the company now as ever. Not only is there a dearth of talent on the roster, the company has struggled to create any genuine stars over the past two years (Ryback being one of the sole exceptions). They need all the charismatic and over wrestlers, like Orton, that they can get right now.
Orton is also branching out as a star in other ways. He's taken the lead in upcoming WWE Studios feature 12 Rounds: Reloaded, a direct-to-DVD sequel to 2009 action flick 12 Rounds.
As well as proving WWE's trust in him (they probably wouldn't be giving him a spot in a high-profile movie if they lacked faith that he would be sticking around long-term), the role has the potential to allow Orton to achieve some level of mainstream success, something the company has always craved.
While some would say Orton's current act is tired—and maybe it is—in many respects, his stock in the company has never been better.
Orton's victory at Hell in a Cell may also be an indicator that the company is losing faith in Alberto Del Rio. Despite his heavy push over the past two years, the Mexican star continues to struggle as a main eventer, with many of his programs and feuds boring fans and critics alike (did anyone wonder if the mediocre Del Rio/Sheamus feud would ever end?). In contrast to Orton, his WWE future looks a bit more cloudy.
Summarily, the result of Orton/Del Rio didn't tell us anything drastically new and only confirmed what many already suspected—Orton will remain as a centrepiece of SmackDown while Del Rio will continue to flounder as the company struggles to think of what to do with him.
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