You don't ask a jackal to be a lapdog, and judging by how much Randy Orton is thriving at the moment, you don't ask him to be anything other than a predatory villain.
Right now, Orton is right where we can expect him to be for the majority of the years he has left—the top. He has been a constant contender for either the WWE title or World Heavyweight Championship for years now.
His feud with Daniel Bryan is, in a way, a means to make Bryan a hero, but it's also an ideal place for Orton.
He has become increasingly merciless throughout this rivalry, threatening to hurt Bryan's fiancée, Brie Bella, and trying to put The Miz in the hospital in front of his parents. This is where Orton most shines, basking in the flames of his own wickedness.
Should he lose to Bryan at Hell in a Cell, don't expect the championship to be far from his reach for long. Orton is just too good in the ring and enthralling as a villain to slide too far down the ladder.
Sometimes one is privy to greatness for so long, one becomes numb to it.
After everything Orton has accomplished and for as long as he's been one of the best in the business, it's easy to get more excited about the next big thing instead. Orton's performance against Goldust on Sept. 9 evoked enthusiastic reactions from fans and peers alike.
Per F4WOnline, via PWMania.com, Orton and Goldust "received a standing ovation from the talent and crew as soon as they went backstage after their match."
There are a number of Orton matches that deserve this response, and there will certainly be more.
Lance Storm is aware of that. He named Orton as one of his favorites.
Mick Foley, who helped launch Orton's early career, raved about his in-ring performance after a Falls Count Anywhere bout against Alberto Del Rio in late 2012.
Love the intensity @RandyOrton brings to every match. I seem to remember Randy having an amazing match of this type with a legendary brawler— Mick Foley (@realmickfoley) November 10, 2012
The intensity that Foley speaks of is at its height when Orton is a heel and asked to be monstrous rather than heroic. Orton uses that to power his matches, to turn his physical prowess into a means for great theater.
After all the outstanding matches he's had with everyone from Rob Van Dam to Cody Rhodes, WWE goes forward knowing that Orton can deliver with just about any opponent. That will result in a number of additional opportunities for him.
Should Damien Sandow need a rival or Big E. Langston require a man who can bring the best out in him, WWE need only look to Orton.
Orton is smooth in the ring, powerful and compellingly vicious. He has one of the best dropkicks in WWE history, one of the best finishers in the company and turns moves like the powerslam into art.
These elements are a big part of why he has such an impressive collection of hits so far, but beyond that, he excels at churning up emotion.
His feud with Christian in 2011 was successful partly because of how talented both men are. Orton's seething passion took it to another level.
The anger and frustration emitting from off him helped make their match at that year's SummerSlam an instant classic.
Looking to Orton's future, it's easy to see him having similar successes, piling up the celebrated bouts on his resume. That will be his ticket into the Hall of Fame, even if his mic work isn't on the level of the all-time greats.
Orton's acting skills are solid, not spectacular. Unscripted, he may struggle to hold an audience's attention since he's not especially charismatic.
He doesn't have to be, though.
Men like The Rock, who can keep fans entertained while just rambling about their past, are rare. Orton isn't on that level but does well to create tension with just words.
In a recent promo on SmackDown, Orton reminded us of his ability to control the audience and tell an engaging story.
His delivery is measured, clear and is the pathway for him to release his intensity. While no one is going to put this promo next to WWE's best ever, Orton is effective here.
This is plenty good enough for him to hover around the main event scene for the rest of his career.
Orton is in his prime, both in the ring and on the mic, and fans shouldn't expect significant growth ahead. Rather, he will be a steady, reliably great, go-to presence for WWE.
There's not much left to accomplish for Orton. In 2010, WWE already had him ranked 29th out of the 50 best Superstars of all time.
He has already put on a number of phenomenal performances since that list was put together and should Orton wrestle for close to another decade, he'll add plenty more. The longer he is one of WWE's top guys and the more classics he leaves as his legacy, the higher he'll climb on that list.
He also has to avoid a third strike with the WWE Wellness Policy in order to fulfill his potential.
Barring injury, suspension or early retirement, there's no reason to believe that Orton can't slide into the all-time top 20.
He's one of the best in-ring performers of his generation, successfully adapting from the Ruthless Aggression Era to the PG Era, and his longevity will afford him that ranking. Keep him a monster, a fang-wielding snake, and Orton's career will be continually impressive.
The Hall of Fame awaits him without a doubt, and beyond that, it's WWE's pantheon of greats that Orton hopes to join.
Be sure to check out previous installments in this ongoing series: