The biggest problem WWE has had with Randy Orton―he's Randy Orton.
If you were granted wishes from a genie with the intent of creating the perfect sports entertainer, your final product would be Orton.
Three generations of the business in his blood and memory. A solid frame of height, speed, muscle and agility. A look that carries attitude but also appeals to the female demographic. In my opinion, Orton's greatest talent is his timing and reaction. This is hard to see if you're not looking for it. It's hard to see because you only notice if someone doesn't have good timing and reaction.
All of Orton's positive qualities have contributed to the biggest mistake the company made with him. Simply put, he got too much too fast. Not saying he didn't deserve it or wasn't able to handle it, but by the time he reached age 30, the Orton well had been booked dry.
He got the ultimate rubs in Evolution standing next to Flair and Triple H. He got the marquee as the Legend Killer battling Hulk Hogan and Mick Foley. He won countless titles. We saw his look and character evolve, whether it be the way he walked, posed and shaved his head, or how many tattoos he had―six years of Orton felt like 16. A profitable six years for the company, but an exhausting six for the audience.
Orton has been in neutral for several years after being a reliable ticket draw for the SmackDown brand when the company designated their roster by brands. Now, if someone needs an opponent that has credibility, Orton is that go-to guy.
Nothing Orton has done in the past few years has elevated him or his career. I don't think it will hurt his legacy, just as long as he bounces back. Every legacy of every great has a down period. The key to forgetting about it is sandwiching the down period in between greatness. Stone Cold Steve Austin's run in 2001 as a heel would be a down period. Luckily for him, it doesn't define his legacy because prior to the heel run was great stuff, and after the heel run he went out on top against The Rock at WrestleMania 19.
Same could be possible for Orton.
He must garner as much heat as possible when the fans unite in celebration for Daniel Bryan finally winning the WWE Championship. Orton needs to come in with his license to steal known as Money in the Bank. This brings substance and relevance back to Orton. There is real reason to dislike him and see how long he can slither away while being chased for the title.
See what I did there with the slither reference since he's “The Viper?” That's another thing: drop the whole "snake" deal. Let that live with the down period in his career. Don't carry it in to this new era.
I hope we do get another change in Orton. Whether it's music, how fast he walks or how brash he is―something new to help define this era in his career would be helpful for it to stand out. I feel the slow, methodical stalking that he can do is great while he's chasing the title. Once he's stolen it, bring back some of the cocky Orton who was once giving us percentage updates on his shoulder rehabilitation.
The time for this perfect sports entertainer is now. He's established himself and worked with the greats. Now he's best served being the piece of crap he has the ability to be as a heel, making money off it and helping create a new crop of super babyfaces the WWE is in desperate need of for the long-term future.