Who Will Be Randy Orton's Next Targets During WrestleMania 36 Feud with Edge?
The WWE Universe was left reeling when Randy Orton proposed a reformation of Rated-RKO, just to attack Edge and lay him out with a con-chair-to.
Since then, he hasn't found the words to fully describe why he did this, but that shouldn't be mistaken for remorse. The Viper has proved many times over the years that he rarely—if ever—regrets his cold-blooded actions.
Orton has already claimed a second victim in Matt Hardy, who he took out of commission last week on WWE Raw.
Based on his track record, The Apex Predator will go on the hunt again soon. Who will his next targets be and how might those attacks go down?
Some People Are Probably Safe
Assuming WWE follows logic and continues the trend of Orton focusing on people associated with Edge, there are still some with ties to The Rated-R Superstar who may be safe.
The Dudley Boyz and Jeff Hardy were three other pieces of the TLC triangle, but Bubba Ray works for another company, D-Von is a producer and it's unclear if or when Jeff will return to television. None of them had as deep of a personal connection as Matt to justify bringing them into the fold.
WWE could follow up Matt's spot with Lita, but she's not even a part-timer and is Edge's ex. Everyone's moved on since their relationship and that's already been touched on.
In 2002, Edge held the tag team titles alongside both Rey Mysterio and Hulk Hogan. Those ties aren't tight enough to warrant bringing them into this story.
La Familia was too strange of a stable to reference again, and while Vickie and Chavo Guerrero are beloved, it's doubtful anybody remembers Bam Neely.
Rhyno is on the Impact Wrestling roster and Tommy Dreamer, although a close friend of Edge, runs House of Hardcore and works elsewhere.
Gangrel is also off-limits as he's been out of the game too long and his work in the adult entertainment industry isn't exactly PG material.
Given all those circumstances, these Superstars should be safe.
The most obvious next target would be Christian, as he and Edge were so close that they were even billed as brothers for a long stint of their careers.
They are synonymous with each other and have been best friends for most of their lives.
The duo won seven tag titles together, co-hosted a podcast and did two seasons of The Edge and Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness.
It's so obvious Orton needs to attack Christian that if it doesn't happen, it will only be because Captain Charisma wasn't medically cleared to get physical. That may well be the case, as he's not taken any bumps in the past six years.
If he does get cleared, though, it would be amazing to see the Orton vs. Christian rivalry reheated. The two had some amazing fights for the World Heavyweight Championship, and it would make sense for Captain Charisma to ask for "one more match" against The Viper.
The only person on this planet who is closer to Edge than Christian at this point is his wife, Beth Phoenix.
The Glamazon has only addressed the Orton incident once on the air when she refocused her efforts on her job as a commentator for NXT.
But Phoenix is still a fighter. Her performance during the Royal Rumble, bleeding from her head and still wrecking the shop, proved she hasn't lost a step.
As a warrior who showed no fear in standing up to male Superstars in the past, she may want to retaliate on her husband's behalf.
Unfortunately for Phoenix, it isn't beyond Orton to fight back or even attack her unprovoked. He may just intimidate her and not actually harm her, but if she steps up and gets in his face, rest assured he'll give her an RKO just as he has to Stephanie McMahon, Nia Jax and others.
The Edgeheads: Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder
Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder need to be sacrificial lambs at some point in the next few weeks.
It was Edge who took The Major Brothers and gave them the platform to rechristen themselves The Edgeheads.
It's clear the two men have immense respect for Edge as a mentor, and it will be a missed opportunity if WWE doesn't acknowledge that.
They would be easy targets for Orton. They're healthy and active on the roster, they're freely available to get attacked, and since they aren't doing anything noteworthy right now, they can job out to help this storyline.
Orton should have a match with both Hawkins and Ryder to eat up two weeks of television and lay them both out with con-chair-tos or even the return of the dreaded punt to remind fans of yet another move in his arsenal.
Eventually, Edge is going to return. There would be no point in setting up this match for WrestleMania 36 otherwise.
When that happens, The Rated-R Superstar shouldn't get the upper hand in any decisive fashion or it will hurt the impact of his win on April 5. Instead, Orton should stand tall yet again when they come to blows.
It shouldn't be as brutal of an attack as the original one, or else it wouldn't make sense for Edge to return in time for the pay-per-view. But at one more point on the road to WrestleMania, The Viper should strike again and leave Edge in a bad way.
Reasserting his dominance will make it much sweeter when Edge gets his revenge at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, and celebrates overcoming Orton.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.