Randy Orton has been one of the more interesting Superstars on WWE programming over the last six months for all the wrong reasons.
He has been WWE champion since October's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view and the lapdog for The Authority dating back to August. Even worse, he has regularly been the second- or third-most important guy in just about any program he was involved in.
A man who had once been one of the most over stars in the company, whose RKO finisher elicited a pop from any audience across the country and whose demeanor was befitting of the Viper moniker, gradually became a boring and rather insignificant player on Monday Night Raw, despite his role as champion.
Now audiences greet him with general apathy.
The third-generation star has fallen significantly in terms of importance, this despite the attempt to put heat on him by making him the first unified champion since Triple H held both the WWE and World titles back in 2002.
So as the Orton experiment continues to fail, WWE could not possibly be stubborn enough to trot Randy out in front of 70,000-plus fans and have those diehard WWE faithful greet him with a mild reaction for what should be one of the biggest matches of the year, right?
Reports surfacing this week, from PWInsider.com (h/t WrestleZone.com), indicate that the creative team has been involved in meetings regarding the WrestleMania card and the biggest matches on the show.
According to PWInsider.com, a number of WrestleMania 30 creative meetings took place this past week in WWE in light of both the CM Punk walk out and the way the live crowds have been reacting to certain segments involving top names like Orton, Bryan, Cena and Batista.
Last week, top WrestleMania 30 matches like Bryan vs Sheamus and Orton vs Batista were said to be "set in stone," however with the way things played out this past week "anything is now possible" where the 'Mania card is concerned. Even the Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar match is said to be up in the air at this point, and the only real "lock" for the PPV, as of this writing, is John Cena vs Bray Wyatt.
The "anything is possible" line is intriguing because it insinuates that Orton's status as WWE champion is not guaranteed. With so many talented individuals entering the Elimination Chamber match for the title, there are plenty of opportunities to get the title off of The Viper and change the direction of his road to WrestleMania.
Unfortunately, the current state of the WWE roster does not necessarily allow for that to happen.
With Orton as champion, there are five legitimate main event stars to challenge for the gold. Cena, Sheamus, Bryan and Batista all are top-level babyface talent who could conceivably threaten Orton's status as champion. Big Show and Mark Henry, while not quite at the level of those Superstars, also could be perceived as legit challengers.
Only Orton himself, Lesnar and Alberto Del Rio exist as legit main event villains for a babyface champion to feud with.
The company has such great depth in terms of top-level heroes but has done a terrible job of developing heel stars. As a result, the entire company really must rely on Orton to carry main events until Bray Wyatt and the Shield are given that final shove up to the top of the card.
That means the shoddy booking surrounding Orton, a babyface No. 1 contender in Royal Rumble winner Batista, stronger challengers in the form of Cena and Bryan, and better, more interesting stories involving returning part-time stars add up to create a situation where Orton really is the only viable option for champion heading into WrestleMania.
Even if fans are absolutely bored and uninterested in that scenario.