7 Reasons Randy Orton's Main Event Career Is Not over
Just a few years ago, Randy Orton was firmly entrenched as the WWE's No. 2 star behind only John Cena.
He was a consistent presence in the main event scene, constantly found himself winning World titles and was the company's top heel before becoming one of its biggest babyfaces.
But oh, how times have changed.
Instead of battling it out with the likes of Cena and CM Punk at the top of the card, Orton has become perhaps the most poorly booked and directionless major star in the WWE. This has, of course, caused many to question exactly what his future in the WWE holds.
Right now, things may not be looking great for "The Viper," but rest assured that he still has good days ahead of him.
Here are seven reasons why Randy Orton's main event career is far from over.
7. A Likely Heel Turn That Will Rejuvenate Him
We've been waiting so long for Randy Orton to turn heel that it now seems like it may never happen.
But it will happen eventually, and when it does, odds are that the turn will rejuvenate Orton and start his ascension back to the top of the card.
Many fans can agree that Orton was at his absolute best from roughly 2006 to 2009 when he was a ruthless heel, and once the WWE brings Orton back to his roots, he figures to turn around his now stagnant career.
While Orton continues to be one of most popular stars in the WWE, he achieved the most success during that four-year period, which was defined by punts to the skull, kisses to an unconscious Stephanie McMahon and Legacy.
Although Orton has certainly had some success, it's clear that a heel turn is needed and could spring him back to life so to speak.
Turns, whether heel or face, have paid major dividends for guys like Big Show and Alberto Del Rio recently, and in all likelihood, Orton will be catapulted back to the main event scene with a turn, too.
6. The Jeff Hardy Exception
Many fans have assumed that what's holding Randy Orton back are his two Wellness Policy strikes, but let's not forget what happened with Jeff Hardy.
It was in 2008 that Hardy was suspended for his second violation of the WWE's Talent Wellness Program, and we all know how his career played out afterward.
Despite the two strikes, Hardy would go on to win his first WWE Championship later that very same year. In 2009, he would win the World Heavyweight Championship, too.
If Hardy can get two strikes and still go on to win multiple World titles, then so can Randy Orton.
Although Orton hasn't held a World title since his suspension last year, consider what's gone on in the main event picture since then: Sheamus held the World Heavyweight title for seven months while CM Punk would go on to hold the WWE Championship for well over a year.
Orton failing to win a World title over the last year-plus has had a lot more to do with the WWE wanting to give its champions lengthy World title reigns than it has with Orton himself.
If history repeats itself, which always happens, then Orton will follow in the footsteps of Hardy and win another World title even though he's only one strike away from being fired.
5. He's Still Protected
Although Randy Orton isn't getting quite as big of a push as he was getting just a few short years ago, he hasn't exactly turned into a jobber, either.
Despite all the bad booking and lack of direction for Orton's character, he still continues to be protected more than about 95 percent of the main roster.
Aside from a few guys like Sheamus and John Cena, Orton is booked stronger than just about everyone on either Raw or SmackDown. He hardly loses, and when he does, it usually isn't in clean fashion.
Other than a random loss to Alberto Del Rio and Wade Barrett here and there, it's hard to remember Orton losing cleanly much over the last year or so.
He mopped the floor with ADR during the entirety of their feud, defeated Dolph Ziggler on pay-per-vew at Night of Champions and has was won the vast majority of his TV matches. Even when he lost at Elimination Chamber last month, it was done in a way to keep him looking strong.
Sure, Orton would probably like to have more direction and more meaningful feuds. But on the bright side, at least he's not jobbing, consistently losing or finding himself at the bottom of the midcard.
That's a good sign, too. As long as Orton is being booked strongly as an upper midcarder/borderline main eventer, his future is significantly brighter than most think.
4. Even Without Direction, He's Ridiculously Over
It's been a very long time since Randy Orton has done something truly meaningful or memorable.
Yet, "The Viper" still somehow remains over with the crowd. Ridiculously over, in fact.
Despite all the bad booking and other roadblocks he's come across over the last year-and-a-half, Orton undoubtedly continues to be one of the WWE's most popular stars. He still gets massive pops from the crowd, and the fans are still majorly into almost everything he does.
Orton has that undeniable "it factor" that you can't just create out of nowhere and that very few other guys on the roster have.
Even though he hasn't done much of note since late 2011, Orton has still managed to be more over than abut 99 percent of the main roster. When you really think about it, it's hard to even come up with a list of guys who are more over than he is.
That type of superstar doesn't come around very often, and only three or four guys currently in the WWE can stay over no matter how they're booked.
Orton is one of them, and as long as he is, he's going to have a very real chance of working his way back into the main event picture for the long haul.
3. He's Simply Too Talented
There are dozens upon dozens of superstars on the WWE's main roster, and almost every single one of them is extremely talented.
Whenever fans debate who the "most talented" superstars are, though, usually only a handful of names are brought up, such as Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk...and Randy Orton.
The general consensus is that, politics, booking and any other nonsense aside, Orton is undoubtedly one of the most talented superstars in the company.
In fact, many consider Orton to be among the top five overall performers in the WWE. When he's motivated, he's in an elite class that only includes guys like Punk and Bryan.
After all, Orton truly has it all.
He has that "it factor," the ability to work the mic when he wants to (yes, his mic work was once better than it is now), the look and most importantly, the in-ring skills that, when combined together, make him the total package.
JBL always says on commentary that if you built a WWE superstar from scratch, it would look like Orton.
And guess what? He's right.
2. Despite Bad Booking, He's Still High on the WWE's Pecking Order
Despite what's been a rocky 12-month stretch for Randy Orton, he's still very high on the WWE's pecking order.
When you take away the part-timers like The Rock, Brock Lesnar and Triple H, there is really only a handful of guys who are ahead of Orton on the company's totem pole.
There is John Cena, CM Punk, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio...and that's about it.
Other superstars, like Daniel Bryan and Ryback, will climb up the depth chart here and there. But when it comes to the long term, there simply aren't very many guys who are more highly valued by WWE management than Orton.
Orton is an established veteran who's still over big-time with the crowd, and he's a much bigger star than the vast majority of the WWE roster.
Not everyone can be pushed as a World title contender at the same time—hell, John Cena hasn't won a World title since the fall of 2011—so just because Orton has had a similar drought, that doesn't mean his future is all doom and gloom.
The reality is that Orton, despite everything that's happened, is still one of the WWE's biggest stars, and as such, the chances that he makes it back to the top of the company are pretty damn good.
1. He's Still Only 32 Years Old
If Randy Orton were in his late 30s or early 40s and stuck floundering in the midcard, then there might be cause for concern.
But consider this hard-to-believe fact: Orton is still just 32 years old.
Although he's already won a whopping nine World titles and has been around for more than a decade now, "The Viper" is still very young, especially in wrestling terms.
In fact, Orton is about the same age as or younger than a number of so-called "up-and-comers," including Wade Barrett, Antonio Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler. He's also younger than a number of big-named stars who haven't been around all that long, including Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio.
In other words, Orton is still, for all intents and purposes, a young talent in the wrestling world.
We often overlook that because he debuted at such a young age and has already accomplished so much, but he still has a boatload of time left in the WWE.
Orton is in the prime of his career, and there are no signs of that changing anytime soon. Like it or not, he's here to stay.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!