Many fans watching recent episodes of SmackDown may have wondered, "Will we ever see the end of tired and mediocre program between Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio?"
You see, the feud has been all over television for months now and, alas, shows no signs of abating.
Sure, Orton has beaten his foe spotlessly clean in several matches by now, but for whatever reason, Del Rio continues to pick a fight, and he even cost Orton a match with Dolph Ziggler on this week’s SmackDown.
All frustrated fans can do is roll our eyes as we once again have to sit through the least interesting WWE grudge feud in years.
It’s not that the matches between the pair are bad. In fact, their two-out-of-three falls bout on Raw last week was pretty decent, by TV match standards. They have fine, if not spectacular, in-ring chemistry.
The real issue is that the program feels like—and probably is—time-filler with two wrestlers who have nothing better to do.
Orton has been going through the motions for a while now, seemingly waiting for management to finally turn him heel again and kick-start his stale career. If he looks bored by his current role, it’s probably because he is.
His attention has also been elsewhere in recent times; he just finished filming upcoming straight-to-DVD WWE Studios movie 12 Rounds: Reloaded.
Del Rio has not fared much better. Despite a huge push at the start of his career (He won the 2011 Royal Rumble and main evented WrestleMania with Edge a couple of months later), he never really got over like people hoped, with his two title runs getting decidedly lukewarm reactions from the fans.
His bland, one-dimensional heel character is also a hindrance. Oh, sure, there was something fun about his rich, snobbish aristocrat character when he debuted in the summer of 2010, but two years on and the whole act feels tired.
By now, his character should have developed more beyond just driving out in fancy cars and wearing nice scarves. Instead, Del Rio—and the creative team—seem to have made no real effort to implement changes, and, as a result, many fans are bored senseless by him.
It’s doubtful that his flourishing on-screen relationship with Rosa Mendes will help raise his stock in the company either—romance angles are usually hit-or-miss, and the interaction between these two so far comes off as awkward and stilted. They look almost as uncomfortable together as John Cena and A.J. Lee.
Let’s face it, Del Rio’s manager and personal ring announcer—the wickedly entertaining and very charismatic Ricardo Rodriguez—is the real star of the pair. He may be the one who has a real future in WWE, not his deathly dull boss.
So, at this point Orton needs to move on. While he was floundering before this feud, it has only continued to drag him down. There’s nothing to gain from continuing to return to the Orton/Del Rio program. It’s played out—and, frankly, wasn’t even that great when it was fresh.
Following from this, Orton needs to turn heel—and soon. Such a move would revive his career and rocket him back into the main event scene, where he can headline in programs with stars like Sheamus, John Cena and Triple H.
Hey, maybe come WrestleMania time, heel Orton can have another shot at Taker’s streak? It’s an intriguing idea.
The end of the program would also be better for SmackDown as a whole. The once-thriving wrestling show has become bogged down in recent times by time-filling feuds and convoluted angles that no one cares about. Del Rio vs. Orton isn’t the solution to any of its woes; indeed, it’s actually a big part of the problem.