Randy Orton and John Cena at the ened of Raw.
But it's hard to argue that their current feud over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship has truly taken off with fans, or that it has even a modicum of the intrigue any top-level pay-per-view bout in WWE requires.
Of course, the main issue is that Orton/Cena is just a tired repeat of what has happened before. These two took on each other enough times in 2007 and 2008 to make any fan weary of watching them face off yet again.
The repetitive nature of this program could be forgiven if WWE's bookers had imbued it with some great storytelling, but really, they haven't.
Presumably in an attempt to inject this stale feud with some much-needed edge and excitement, they scripted Orton to violently attack John Cena's dad on last Monday's Raw. A grief-stricken Cena then accompanied his ailing father as he was carried out of the arena on a stretcher.
Sounds great, right? Just the sort of thing to shake things up?
Well, not really. Orton has physically attacked Mr. Cena before—back in 2007 when he delivered a brutal-looking Punt Kick to the man.
In fact, Mr. Cena has been the recipient of too many onscreen heel beatings to count. Remember when Edge and Lita broke into his home in 2006 and assaulted him in a bid to enrage his son? Whenever you see the man appearing on TV in support of his child, you can be 90-percent sure of what's about to go down.
At this point, Cena's father getting attacked has been a long-running in-joke. Various fans on Twitter noted the un-originality of last Monday's angle, too.
Damn shouldn't Cena Dad have a restraining order on Orton by now..#notthefirstattack— Chris (@ComedyFan38) January 14, 2014
Wait, why are we all surprised? This is LITERALLY not even the first time Orton has attacked Cena's dad.— LOE Wrestling (@LOE_Wrestling) January 14, 2014
A half-hearted and slightly bizarre crowd brawl at the end of Monday’s Raw didn’t help matters either. The champion actually going to the lengths of stealing a car to get away from Cena’s wrath was unintentionally hilarious.
Even forgetting about the mediocre booking, Cena/Orton isn't helped by the inability of Orton to take off as a true top heel.
Orton's performance since his heel turn at SummerSlam has, in general, been pretty average.
And how many times have we sat through promos in which Stephanie and Triple H dress him down and vow not to help him retain his belt at the pay-per-view (only to turn around and help him come the day of the show)?
Nor have his once-praised in-ring skills been up to scratch: His Survivor Series bout with The Big Show was, in particular, abysmal, even garnering loud and embarrassing chants of “Boring!” from the crowd in attendance. Yikes.
And, really, placing the champion in yet another feud no one wants to see will only continue to hinder him even more.
Are you interested in Orton vs. Cena at the Royal Rumble?
Are there any positives to Orton/Cena? Well, it’s decent time-filler on Raw and SmackDown. But, truly, that’s about it.
And, really, shouldn’t fans and critics be able to expect more from the No. 1 wrestling promotion and two of the industry’s top stars than mere time-filler?