Why Chris Jericho and Randy Orton Will Be Biggest X-Factors at WWE Royal Rumble

Tom ClarkFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2017

Chris Jericho /
Chris Jericho /Credit: WWE.com

Chris Jericho and Randy Orton may not be on top of WWE at the moment, but all of that could change soon.

That's because Royal Rumble is the night when surprises abound, and those surprises could include either Y2J or The Viper winning the namesake match. The former adversaries are the X-factors in this year's bout.

This may be one of the biggest Royal Rumble matches of all time.

The reason for that is due to the amount of talent that's been booked. The Undertaker, Goldberg and Brock Lesnar are headlining the Rumble, and it's likely hard for many fans to bet against them. Any of the three could emerge victorious, and WWE could build an exciting WrestleMania as a result.

But Jericho and Orton are patiently waiting in the background.

The best thing about both men is that they've already accomplished so much, meaning they can handle more than the younger stars. While WWE has booked the New Era as the next step in its evolution, there is no doubt to the value the veterans bring to the product.

This is especially true of Orton and Jericho, who are perhaps two of the most unassuming veterans in the Rumble. 

That's because neither man has been on pace to win the match. Orton has been busy in his role with The Wyatt Family on SmackDown Live, and Jericho has become part of Raw's hottest act next to universal champion Kevin Owens.

Orton's path to singles stardom was put on the back burner while he assimilated to his new family, and he's been in that spot since November 2016. He's made every effort possible to earn Bray Wyatt's trust and convince the WWE faithful that he's indeed found a new home with The Eater of Worlds.

Jericho hasn't been in the running for Raw's top championship because of his alliance with Owens. Y2J and KO's friendship has stood the test of time, and it's one of the most natural fits that any duo has ever enjoyed in WWE.

The company could continue with Orton and Jericho in their respective roles on the blue and red brands, and fans would probably continue to go along for the ride. There's perhaps more story to be told for both of them where they currently are, and WWE could make it work for a bit longer.

But The Show of Shows is coming.

WrestleMania season brings with it the promise of new things. Storylines build for the remaining months of the WWE year and then end on The Grandest Stage of Them All. The same will be true for Jericho and Orton.

Though many would love to see Orton continue with The Wyatt Family, it may not happen.

Orton has earned Wyatt's trust, but it's likely been nothing more than a ploy. The only way to bring Wyatt down is to bring down the entire family, and that's exactly what Orton has done. By casting doubt on Luke Harper, Orton has created a divide. That divide has been widened to the point of no return, and now, the last two men left standing are him and Wyatt.

An RKO cannot be far behind.

That RKO could come in the Royal Rumble match, and if it does, then Orton would be left to pursue his singles career once again. Winning the Rumble means facing either AJ Styles or John Cena at WrestleMania, and either match would be huge for WWE.

Orton has new momentum, thanks to the storyline with The Wyatt Family, and he would take that momentum to a new feud with his old foe, Cena. Orton would also excel with Styles in a match that could steal the show at WrestleMania.

Either way, Orton can easily get back to the top, and fans would buy in.

Those same fans would love to see Jericho and Owens keep the laughs coming, but the partnership seems destined to fall. Their chemistry together has been so good that WWE likely sees dollar signs in a feud for the Universal Championship.

KO would be the heel of the equation, and Jericho would shine in what could be the biggest babyface role of his WWE career. 

When talents of that caliber click together and are allowed to work their own styles in their own ways, magic can happen. That would be the case if Jericho faces Owens at WrestleMania 33. It's a match that could potentially do more for the Universal Championship than any other to date.

Jericho and Orton have been highly successful and have 16 world championships between them. They've been main event stars on some of WWE's biggest stages of all time, and they both still have a lot left when it comes to delivering in the ring.

WWE has solid options with both men, and either one could be a surprising yet welcome Royal Rumble winner.

               

Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online here