Randy Orton needs to come back from his latest injury refreshed and revitalized. And reviled.
With Orton out of action nursing possible head, shoulder and wrist injuries, now is the perfect opportunity for the WWE Creative Team to finally develop that long-awaited heel turn.
Yes, heel turns for him have been teased before, and nothing came of them. But unlike then, this is the right time for an Orton switch.
Unlike previous times, Orton really has nothing to come back to. He is at a lull in his career. He has no big programs with any other wrestlers, no featured matches on this weekend’s TLC pay-per-view and is not part of any title conversations.
It is the calm before the storm. And what a storm it could be if the Apex Predator returns and sets his sights on the likes of Sheamus, John Cena, Ryback or even The Miz.
Orton already has faced and beaten the biggest names on the villain side of the roster, so it seems only plausible that when he comes back, he goes after the other side.
The big issue would be how Orton switches sides. Does he do it at Royal Rumble, or on a Raw or SmackDown show?
And in order to make the heel turn really go over, he would have to immediately launch a program with a believable babyface star and not some jobber.
A feud with Sheamus would be great to launch that heel run. Sheamus really is not expected to walk out of TLC with the World Heavyweight Championship, so he definitely needs a good program to maintain his upper-card status. While it would be hard to develop as good a program Sheamus has had with the Big Show over the World Title belt, a story arc with Orton would keep the Celtic Warrior white hot, so to speak.
Ryback also will be looking for a new program after TLC, and an Orton feud could be just what he needs to prove he is not a one-hit wonder. Orton also has the ability to put his opponents over with the crowd, and that definitely works to Ryback’s advantage.
Of course, there is always the possibility that Orton could join forces with CM Punk and Paul Heyman. Orton has a solid history with Punk as an opponent, so there should be no doubt that they could work just as well together as Heyman stablemates. Orton could be the ideal companion to join Punk in attacking The Rock at Royal Rumble.
This all is just speculation. The last time Orton was out for an extended period of time, everyone expected him to go bad when he returned. But he didn’t, and the result was a series of lame feuds with the likes of midcarders such as Alberto Del Rio.
Let’s hope everyone has learned from their mistakes this time around. WWE Creative needs to finally pull the trigger on the Randy Orton heel turn. If it doesn’t happen now, the chances are WWE will never have a chance like this for some time to come.
An Orton switch just makes sense. The WWE Universe wants it, and apparently, so does Orton.
Then again, we are talking about the same group who thought Lord Tensai was the next great wrestling villain. How’s that working out?
Bill Atkinson is a columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.