Randy Orton may be the voice of reason in his team with Sheamus and Big Show, but should they lose at WrestleMania 29 to The Shield, Orton will turn on his friends.
After nearly a year of losses, this will give Orton the chance to turn heel and start winning again.
Over the past several months, Orton has been on a career downturn. He's lost clean to many superstars, including Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler and even Alberto Del Rio. Once called the Apex Predator, Orton hasn't looked like the nine-time World champion and 2009 Royal Rumble winner of old.
Instead, he's been more of an in-ring floatation device, staying afloat in the WWE main roster tidal wave of talent but just barely.
Orton is 33 years old with 13 years of professional experience. He has plenty of years ahead of him. Instead of putting other guys over, the Viper should be walking over other guys.
Orton's wish to turn heel has been covered here on Bleacher Report. His upcoming bout with Sheamus and Show against The Shield may be the opportunity he needs to turn heel and get back in the win column.
But not by winning the match itself.
All three men involved in the contest with The Shield have been victims of their three-on-one assaults at one time or another. But it was Orton who suffered a shoulder injury as a result of the attacks. He has the most reason to be involved and a time-tested storyline motivator: revenge.
Orton was first attacked by Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns on the December 3 Monday Night Raw after his match with Brad Maddox. He was attacked again on December 14 on SmackDown, where his received his injury.
The Legend Killer returned on the December 31 Raw and fended off The Shield with Sheamus and Ryback. He was attacked two more times, on SmackDown and Main Event, before he teamed up with the Celtic Warrior to pursue The Shield.
He clearly wants revenge, but revenge can also open the door to unrequited anger. A loss to the trio from NXT could be just enough to send the Viper into heel territory.
Orton has never been a team player, so his actions over the past week, when he played the mediator and motivator between Sheamus and Show, were odd. Storyline-wise, it helps build the eventual Orton post-WrestleMania meltdown.
Look at what is happening with the match already.
Show is the largest opponent of The Shield and has been able to toss the three men around the ring like pieces of trash. There's a good chance he'll walk out of the match, win or lose, in the favor of the fans. The same goes for Sheamus.
But Orton needs the win to validate his current quest for revenge. If the team does lose at WrestleMania, what has the Legend Killer accomplished after being on the receiving end of weeks of beatdowns?
Show will have gained new momentum from a potential face turn. Sheamus will have retained his tough-guy image and midcard status. Orton will have gained nothing more than another loss.
It's an easy opportunity for the WWE to have Orton vent his frustrations on Sheamus and Show. Plus, with Show likely becoming somewhat face, a serious heel void needs to be filled. Orton turning his back on the fans allows him to channel his more aggressive tendencies that wouldn't fly with the WWE Universe.
So much of his time lately has revolved around The Shield. With so many months of failure behind him, he can't afford to keep losing. Orton needs to show his fangs and act like a viper again.