The final moments of Team Foley vs. Team Ziggler at Survivor Series certainly played out differently than a lot of people expected. The Miz, a heavy favorite to win it all for his team, was eliminated, which left the fate of the team in the hands of Randy Orton, no stranger to success in tag team elimination matches. Orton managed to put away Alberto Del Rio, reducing the match to a one-on-one affair against captain Dolph Ziggler.
With blood flowing from a fresh cut, Randy Orton delivered his patented IEDDT to Ziggler. Instead of coiling and looking for an RKO, however, Orton changed his facial expression and showed us something we have not seen out of him for a very long time. The crowd could sense it as well and began to chant.
"Punt! Punt! Punt!"
Orton looked bloodthirsty and began to size up Dolph Ziggler's skull, aiming to kick Ziggler's head off. This lapse in judgment and reason cost Orton and all of Team Foley, as Ziggler delivered a kick of his own to Orton's head and wrapped up Orton for the pin.
Could we be seeing a return to the Orton who inspired the idea of his theme song?
I doubt that Orton will ever be kicking people in the head on a regular basis again; not only is WWE on high alert with concussion awareness, Orton himself told people on his Twitter account back in June that the move was banned. While it does take away one of the more sinister aspects of his personality, Orton has always found other ways to get inside his opponents' heads when the shackles are removed and he is allowed to be the Apex Predator.
What remains to be seen is just how far Orton can go now in WWE.
He would be a welcome sight back in the title picture, but the consistent elephant in whatever room that discussion takes place is the track record he has with WWE and their Wellness Policy. Should Orton suddenly find himself in more trouble, what would happen if we were WWE or World Heavyweight Champion at the time? The company would want to avoid a situation where simply stripping and vacating the title becomes necessary.
Orton's heel personality would be another breath of fresh air on WWE programming, and we certainly got a glimpse of it when he targeted Dolph Ziggler's head.
Unfortunately, the balance of power is so heavily on the heel side right now (especially with last night's addition of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns) that having a solid veteran babyface like Randy Orton at the moment is almost required. Perhaps when someone like Christian or Mark Henry comes back, Orton can make a full transition to the dark side once more.
Then again, it could be that all Orton needs is some new heel blood to face, and the three new arrivals from NXT might be just what he needs. They won't be going after Ryback forever, and The Viper will need new prey if he is not going to be a legitimate contender for either major championship. If they are to be aligned with CM Punk and Paul Heyman, Orton crossing paths with one of them could make him an anti-John Cena: the new foil for Punk and his band, but one who is not in it for the fans or for loyalty.
He just wants to strike again.