Living Legacy: Why Randy Orton Is On-Pace To Become The Greatest In WWE History
At the age of 30, he has done it all.
Quite literally, he is a living legacy: a first-ballot, future Hall of Fame superstar who has turned the industry on its head, broken records that many don't even know to exist, and left in his wake a laundry list of legends longer than any resume in the history of the professional wrestling.
He is a seasoned veteran with more main-event experience than your heroes, having done so before the age at which most of his contemporaries even became relevant.
He is Randy Orton.
The Legend-Killer, the Viper, the One-Man Dynasty.
The WWE champion.
The living proof that to look into the eyes of greatness, all one has to do is follow the trail blazed by the greatest performer of our era.
"I've said this before—what is this, his fifth or sixth breakout?—he is the best guy we've got. He is certainly the best performer of my generation."
John Cena (February 2009)
Some things are subjective, and while as wrestling fans we may all like to think that we're entitled to our own opinions, personal preferences cannot change reality.
"And you can't fight the future."
You want to talk about a "youth movement"? Stare into the eyes of the Viper. Don't be blinded by the championship gold alone; you're looking at something special.
Young enough to be a rookie, yet seasoned enough to school The Rock.
Fresh enough to ignite an audience, yet accomplished enough to rid the world of half its ink.
Open up the record book and get your construction crew ready; this man deserves his own wing in the Hall of Fame.
So I say unto you, fellow Ortonites and curious readers alike, prepare yourself to be treated to the reality that is...
Randy Orton's Road to Sports Entertainment Immortality.
The "Golden Age" of Orton
He once called himself a "One-Man Dynasty," and he was right.
In lieu of Randy Orton's historic victory at Night of Champions 2010; his ever-growing resume is likely to serve as justified poetic justice.
*Seven-time World champion (six-time WWE champion, one-time World Heavyweight champion)
-Youngest World Heavyweight champion in WWE history
-Only man in history to win the WWE championship twice in the same night (No Mercy 2007).
The "Age of Orton" has lasted longer than any World Title reign by The Undertaker, Steve Austin, The Rock, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, Edge, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guererro, Rey Mysterio, Big Show, or Mick Foley.
Randy Orton has spent more cumulative days as WWE/World Champion than Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, The Ultimate Warrior, Yokozuna, JBL, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guererro, or Rey Mysterio, and he will pass The Rock in 11 days.
*One-time Intercontinental Champion.
-Longest reigning Intercontinental champion in the past seven years at that point.
-Second youngest Intercontinental champion in WWE history.
-One-time World Tag-Team champion (w/Edge in Rated RKO).
The Career Killer
Randy Orton's character has punted countless superstars out of relevance, but that isn't the only way he's ended careers.
Did you know that...
*Randy Orton ended Hulk Hogan's career.
While Hulk Hogan technically "won" his match at Summerslam 2005, his struggles to at least appear competitive against Randy Orton unofficially ended any hope that fans had of ever seeing the "Hulkster" truly perform again.
Hulkamaniacs learned long ago to "suspend their disbelief" in order to believe in Hogan, but his performance in the ring with the superior Orton removed any small remnants that were left of their spirits.
He has continued to wrestle outside of the WWE, but that doesn't really count; Summerslam 2005 was the last we really saw of Hulk Hogan.
*Randy Orton was the last man to ever wrestle The Rock.
I suppose you could count Ric Flair and Batista as well, but The Rock's last hurrah ended with him looking up to a victorious Legend Killer...years ahead of his time. You could, of course, blame Mick Foley for this, but he was well-punished the following month at Backlash 2004.
*Randy Orton ended Rob Van Dam's career.
The summer of 2007 was special for a number of reasons, not the least of was Randy Orton's rivalry with Rob Van Dam. WWE allowed Van Dam to gather a win over Orton at ECW One Night Stand 2007, but creatively corrected their error with a career-ending performance on Raw the following night.
Van Dam has since returned at Royal Rumble 2009 (he lost) and has wrestled outside of the WWE, but as was the case with Hulk Hogan, that doesn't really count.
*Randy Orton ended Ric Flair's career.
Some say it was Shawn Michaels who ended it; others say they've seen Flair perform since; but I think it's safe to say that the remains of Ric Flair's career came to an abrupt halt in the summer of 2009. Flair returned to help Batista work his way through a rivalry with the WWE champion, only to challenge Orton to a fight that resulted in him being punted out of sports entertainment.
A steel cage dropped, containing both Orton and Flair, with Batista watching. "The Animal" had two options: Either climb the cage and save his close friend, or shake the cage in frustration and bear witness to the very end of "The Nature Boy".
Needless to say, we haven't seen Ric Flair in the WWE ever since.
*Randy Orton ended Chris Jericho's career.
The actual proof remains to be see, but if Jericho is a man of his word, all it took from Randy Orton was a split-second, an RKO, and a smirk to end the career of the man who once claimed to be "the best in the world at what he does".
The problem is, so is Orton.
And I could go into detail about how Orton brought an end to the careers of both Dusty Rhodes and Mick Foley, but there's just so much more to cover that I'm going to give those guys a free pass...I'm feeling generous.
I don't know if Randy Orton likes Pro Wrestling Illustrated, but Pro Wrestling Illustrated sure as hell appears to like Randy Orton.
*PWI "Wrestler of the Year" in 2009
*Ranked #1 in PWI's Top-500 of 2008
*PWI "Feud of the Year" w/Triple H in 2009
*PWI "Most Hated Wrestler of the Year" in both 2007 and 2009
*PWI "Most Improved Wrestler of the Year" in 2004
*PWI "Rookie of the Year" in 2001
And he's been pretty popular in 2010.
Is it even possible to go from winning the "Most Hated Wrestler of the Year" one year to winning the "Most Popular Wrestler of the Year" the next?
Why do you think they allow us to watch Raw and Smackdown for free every week?
The pay-per-view aspect of World Wrestling Entertainment is a huge moneymaker.
And every moneymaker needs a catalyst.
*Randy Orton has main-evented 40 WWE pay-per-views.
No, that's not a typo. Technically it's five more PPVs than The Rock main-evented during his career, but who's counting?
To "main-event", Orton had to either compete in a WWE/World championship match, close the program altogether, or in one instance, win the Royal Rumble.
And if you want to talk about "streaks": From Summerslam 2007 to Bragging Rights 2009, Orton main-evented 23 out of 26 PPVs.
He won the Royal Rumble in 2009, becoming the first "heel" who wasn't being pushed as a "face" to ever do so after the point in which the event actually became a spectacle (so sorry, Yokozuna, it just wasn't the same thing back then).
He has been the "Soul Survivor" a record four times (two more than anyone else in WWE history).
*And if Wrestlemania's important...
Randy Orton has main-evented the WWE's "Super Bowl" three times, becoming the youngest man to ever do so at Wrestlemania 22.
He's the only man to ever defeat John Cena at Wrestlemania; Cena boasts a 6-0 record in all Wrestlemania matches that don't involve his nemesis, .
Randy Orton is also one of only three "heels" to ever retain his title at Wrestlemania, becoming the only heel in WWE history to ever do so in clean fashion at Wrestlemania XXIV.
The Laundry List
Take away all of the championships, all of the awards, and all of the main-event experience.
Look past the fact that he has accomplished all of the above by the age of 30, younger than Ric Flair when he won the first of a record 16 World Titles.
There's still a lot to be impressed by in the career of Randy Orton; Perhaps nothing is more impressive than the list of men, superstars, legends, and champions who he has defeated when logic said it was impossible.
*Randy Orton has defeated 27 current or former WWE, World Heavyweight, WCW, ECW, and NWA World Champions.
*Rob Van Dam
And that doesn't even begin to cover the countless mid-card talent Orton has laid waste to. It's the most impressive resume not only in WWE history, but in the history of professional wrestling.
And remember people...right now he's younger than Sheamus.
There's not much Randy Orton hasn't done, and at the same time, there aren't many who have accomplished even a fraction of what Orton has.
He's no longer the blue chip; he's become the measuring stick.
He is living proof of how much one man can accomplish, so long as he's more talented than anyone he steps into the ring with.
Randy Orton grew from a sponge who absorbed knowledge into a bona fide superstar, and eventually, into the greatest superstar of our generation.
The sky is the limit.
He's accomplished more than The Rock, yet is young enough to be Wade Barrett (quite literally).
He's an enigma.
An exception to the rule.
The blue-print for success.
But perhaps most importantly, he is our WWE champion.
So get used to it.
He's got another decade in him.
Randy Orton is the true leader and icon of the youth movement.
No wonder he's above and beyond the pace to become the greatest superstar in WWE history.