Following Triple H's announcement on Monday's Raw that Randy Orton and Roman Reigns will face off at the SummerSlam pay-per-view on August 17, it is time to reflect on how this feud has revived Orton's career.
Indeed, for the first time in a while, something The Viper is doing on WWE programming feels like a relevant, important part of the show.
One reason is that it is a new feud. Fans have had to sit through Orton taking on guys such as John Cena, Kane and Daniel Bryan too many times to count. No wonder his character suffered.
This current program, meanwhile, is fresh—Reigns and Orton have never had a lengthy singles feud before. It's not another dull repeat.
Crucially, this feud has greatly rejuvenated Orton's character.
Since turning heel at last year's SummerSlam and joining with The Authority, the star has struggled to really hit his stride as a bad guy.
Even with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, he mostly came off as Triple H's henchman. Nor did he shine in his average feuds with Cena or Bryan.
The booking was mediocre, sure, but a large part of the blame could be placed on Orton's shoulders. His interviews often came off as flat, dull and one-dimensional. His attempts at acting in backstage segments with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon left a lot to be desired too.
As a wrestler, he's phenomenal, but he appears to have always battled more with the personality side of things.
This storyline with Reigns, however, has made his character genuinely interesting for the first time in years. Per the storyline, the former Shield member costing Orton a title shot at SummerSlam has sent the star completely over the edge—to the point that he has become more dangerous, violent and erratic than ever before.
The best example is the lengthy beating an outraged Orton delivered to Reigns on last week's edition of Raw. With some help from Kane, Orton managed to subdue the new star and violently throw him into everything in sight at ringside.
The ranting, raving Orton then managed to RKO Reigns through the announcers' table. It took a couple of tries for it to break, though, which must have been really painful for poor Reigns).
This stunningly brutal, show-stealing segment was a great reminder of Orton's superb 2007 run as a killer heel—and a reminder of the truly wonderful things he's capable of when booked correctly.
You have to wonder why WWE scripted him to get into useless backstage squabbles with Kane or Triple H for months and months when he's clearly far better off as a dominant, sadistic heel who wants to decimate anyone who gets in his way.
His promo work on Raw on Monday night—he passionately vowed to destroy Reigns—was also very strong and helped put the pay-per-view bout over.
Of course, I shouldn't get too ahead of myself. It's still early. It's possible the two won't click in their match at SummerSlam. Who knows what can happen?
But right now, it looks like the feud with Reigns has turned things around for Orton in a big way.
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