It's been a difficult introduction to life as the WWE's unified champion for Randy Orton. Not because he has faced any significant challenges during the start to his reign; rather, it's more because the championship has gone pretty stale.
It wasn't supposed to be like this—the WWE unified the titles to freshen things up and make things interesting at the top once again. Having two of the biggest stars in the company fight over the new title seemed like the perfect way to do it, but Randy Orton vs. John Cena just doesn't seem to capture the imagination.
All is not lost, though. Orton still has a future at the top of the company—and a big future as the WWE World Heavyweight champion—but things need to happen for his championship reign to carry serious weight as one of the best in years to come.
Orton Has to Maintain His Sadistic Nature—and Perhaps More
In professional wrestling, there are certain character types that seem to suit certain people. Take John Cena, for example. He will always work better as a face because it is a role he has performed with good effect for so long.
For Randy Orton, though, he thrives as a heel. His character—a guy who is a ruthless predator that can strike at any time with his patented finisher—is not suited for a guy who is a face. Orton is a fantastic heel when he turns sadistic and ruthless, something we saw reemerge this past week on Raw.
His attack on John Cena's father was a smart bit of work from the WWE, as it gave the Orton vs. Cena rivalry some much-needed momentum leading up to the Royal Rumble. It also put plenty of heat on Orton; what better to annoy Cena's army of fans than merciless attacks on his family?
Think back to the days when Orton used to sadistically punt people in the head—that is the Randy Orton that is a success. It is a guy who gets the crowd talking—and booing. He's always been effective on the mic, but Orton's demeanor needs to get more vicious if he's to reinvigorate this championship reign.
He Needs to Wrestle More
It seems silly that a wrestling champion barely does any wrestling these days. However, of late, it is pretty rare that Randy Orton actually steps into the ring and competes.
Think back to the days of the Attitude Era. The champion was the top dog, the guy everyone wanted to knock off. The only way other Superstars could do that was if they wrestled him. The WWE cannot go down a road where their champion—and the company's other top guys, like Cena—only wrestle sporadically on TV.
Given the depth of the WWE roster, it's understandable that plenty of other rivalries take up TV time. However, Raw is a three-hour show, and there is surely time for Orton to get some heat by actually getting in the ring.
In essence, Orton's lack of matches on Raw is the big problem here. Raw is the flagship show (the show that goes out live every week), and Orton simply has to be more active. This past Monday was a good start, but it needs to keep going.
If the creative team can't find slots for its top guys to be wrestling on a frequent basis, then those writers are very much in the wrong business.
Align Him With a Returning Legend
It's WrestleMania season, which means one thing: There are legends all over the place when it comes to the WWE. We saw Ric Flair—Orton's former stablemate in Evolution—last week on "Old School Raw."
There's also the likes of Hulk Hogan, who is set to return to the company in the near future after he reportedly agreed a deal to rejoin WWE, according to PWInsider (per LordsofPain.net). If Orton's reign as champion is struggling, what better way to give it a shot in the arm than throw a legend into the mix?
Flair would be an ideal choice, in all fairness. He is a guy who can pull off the heel role pretty effectively—even as a manager. He's done it with plenty in the past, and Orton is one of the very best around.
The two have plenty of history to work from, too. Their days in Evolution were a high point for both in recent years, and it would definitely work again.
It wouldn't be the worst idea in the world. Some of the very best champions in WWE history have worked with a manager. Even CM Punk, the best champion in recent years, had Paul Heyman by his side. Perhaps Orton would benefit form the same.