For the better part of a year, there has been a sentiment amongst wrestling fans that Randy Orton is in need of a major character overhaul. Many feel the babyface Orton has become stale while others believe the role of hero is not suited for the snakelike persona of his character. Regardless of which side one may fall on, there is no denying that very few believe the nine-time heavyweight champion is fine just the way he is.
As “The Viper,” Randy Orton has found his greatest success. He has amassed the majority of his world titles under the persona and has risen to become one of the better workers in the company over the course of the last two years.
That success, unfortunately, allowed the creative team and the performer to become complacent.
There was no longer a need to add new layers or aspects to the character that became one of the most popular in the industry. As a result, fans have had two years to become bored with this incarnation of the incredibly talented Orton.
Does the former leader of Legacy still receive one of the biggest reactions of any given show he is a part of? Absolutely. But by no means is Randy Orton one of the hottest characters on Raw or SmackDown.
The character has become so complacent that, in recent months, it appears as though the creative team has no idea what to do with him. He has floated around the company’s top two shows, inserted into, and out of, rivalries with little or no real direction. Unlike any other main event superstar on the roster, he has lost cleanly to a number of young up-and-coming stars and has seen his spot as one of the top stars in the business taken over by the likes of Ryback and Sheamus.
Usually, this is not a bad thing. For years, fans have questioned why main event stars do not do more to help the top young stars advance further up the card. But when a major superstar loses on such a regular basis, fans begin to perceive them to be on the level of the men they are losing to. That is not the case as of yet, but it is hard to argue that Orton has not fallen a long way since serving as the face of the entire SmackDown brand a year-and-a-half ago.
As WrestleMania 29 approaches, and 2013 kicks into high gear, it has never been more apparent that Randy Orton is in need of a major character overhaul. A simple heel turn may not right the proverbial ship, but it could serve as a Band-Aid on a major wound.
The Viper character has always worked best when Randy is able to use his methodical pace and intellectual cunning to outsmart and manipulate the company’s top babyfaces. He was at his best when he could break the rules and be at his most despicable. As a hero, a definite limit has been put on just how far Orton can go before venturing into villain territory.
There may still need to be changes far more advanced than simply switching sides from good to evil. Only time will tell. But one thing is for certain: Resisting change will only result in the continuation of a slump that started in late 2011 and continues to this day.