Randy Orton has truly returned to his own heel self, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Since 2012, the Apex Predator has floundered, which culminated in a few key losses in the first half of 2013. Orton failed to win the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber. He also lost to The Shield at WrestleMania 29 and at Payback in tag team matches.
His biggest loss, arguably, happened on the June 23 edition of Raw. Orton fought Daniel Bryan in a classic free-television match with no disqualifications. Orton tapped out to the Yes Lock, and at that point, it appeared Orton was going nowhere.
However, Orton hit the rest of this past summer with a vengeance, winning the Money in the Bank match. His briefcase run ended at SummerSlam, where he captured the WWE title on Bryan thanks to Triple H. He didn’t really show his old self until later, after he lost the title back to Bryan at Night of Champions.
Orton’s old persona shone through on September 16 in Cleveland, where his rage came back with a vengeance. Randy Orton’s Apex Predator persona returned at the right time.
Orton took on The Miz in Miz’s hometown of Cleveland. Miz put up a valiant effort, but Orton didn’t care about the match. His assault on Miz in front of Miz’s family garnered the much-needed heel heat. Orton decided to hit a knee drop on Miz while a chair was wedged between his neck. It connected, and the Cleveland crowd worried about their hometown hero.
Orton returned later that night to try the same thing on Bryan, but the locker room came to Bryan’s rescue. His trail of suffering continued on September 23 in Chicago as Orton took on Rob Van Dam.
The fans voted for RVD in a fan poll on the WWE app, not knowing they sent their fan favorite to a miserable fate. Orton wasn’t concerned with winning the match. He wanted to inflict pain onto his opponent.
Orton and Van Dam were counted out, but Orton brought RVD back into the ring. He was about to hit his hanging DDTm but before he did, he laughed. That little cackle of his right before he performs the move shows it’s all about the little things before the big moments.
That one laugh sealed Orton’s full transformation. He was in full character, relishing in the carnage he was about to create. It’s also what the WWE needs right now: a heel who doesn’t care about the consequences.
Randy Orton is that guy for the WWE. His Apex Predator persona filled the role that the WWE sorely needed. Not one heel is assaulting their opponents like Orton. He is almost becoming a monster in the process. Orton is the top heel because of that persona, and he’ll be relevant for quite some time.
Randy Orton’s Apex Predator persona has made its triumphant return, and frankly, it couldn’t have come at a better time.