Randy Orton knows how to be a classic wrestling heel.
I'm not talking about just being on the opposite side of the match graphic from the babyface. I'm not talking about just making heel-like faces in an interview. I'm not talking about cheating to win if needed during his television matches.
I'm talking about Orton following the route of a classic wrestling heel and taking the heat.
The odds are that the majority of people who read this will have negative comments on it and Orton. The comments will claim he's boring, he's Triple H's boy, he's a bad dude in real life, he looks like a jerk and that they wish he would never be in another main event again.
All of those comments validate his nice paycheck. Orton is that true classic heel. He's sculpted a career around credibility, controversy and playing the part.
The credibility comes from how naturally gifted he is for the business. He's worked the best names in the last 12 years and has accomplished a lot.
He plays the part by being one of the few guys who will be a heel in person to a fan, won't pander on social media and constantly revels in the hatred from so much of the audience.
Classic wrestling heels, the successful ones at least, didn't care if a guy wanted to fight them in the parking lot.They didn't sweat over the constant heat their actions could draw from an audience or even some peers in the business.
They didn't care if nobody wanted to buy a shirt with their face on it, because they knew they were worth a big payday already for how they could make a star out of a babyface in a feud.
This is a lost art. On both the independent level and WWE, guys will “play” a heel but won't commit to being one.
It drives me nuts to see guys on the independent level who want to be the next big moneymaking heel yet flaunt their Facebook profile with their real name and are “liking” the most recent status update of their babyface rival.
Now more than ever wrestlers should be rewarded for character commitment. There is always someone watching and talking courtesy of social media or TMZ. Sure, everyone knows professional wrestling is entertainment, but it's that kind of mindset that most performers take.
So if everyone is taking that mindset, then the heel who goes the extra mile stands out. That's what Orton has done. It also helps when guys play a character that's some extension of themselves. Orton's natural personality plays well to the jerk heel he's billed as.
Orton can be aggressive on social media when he uses it. Orton stories can surround the wrestling campfire, detailing how difficult he was to deal with at an airport or what he said in a media interview. I love his representation of true antagonism.
When Orton was finished with that brutal assault weeks ago on Roman Reigns, he put his arms up in his classic Orton pose. He titled his head back, giving a slight smirk of satisfaction, and the arms went up. It was the cocky pose we've seen so many times over the years. As soon as he did it, you heard a wave of boos and disgust from the large Texas crowd.
A quick pose, so simple yet so effective. So much of classic wrestling built on the simple things and elicited a reaction from so little. It's the classic work-rate formula that can lead to two guys entertaining a crowd for five minutes without barely touching each other. Orton masters this.
There is no other performer right now who can strike the type of heel reaction by just putting his arms up in his signature pose the way Orton can. There is no other performer right now who is as dedicated to being a heel and sells it so well to the audience as Orton.
Justin LaBar is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the creator of the Chair Shot Reality video talk show and Wrestling Reality radio show.
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