It’s SummerSlam 2004. Besides the Undertaker destroying John Bradshaw Layfield, the night has been uneventful. World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit is defending his World title against an unlikely contender in Randy Orton. Having defeated Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kane and Batista, I firmly believed Benoit would tear Orton to shreds.
As the bout ensued, Orton displayed a tremendous amount of resiliency and even has the Champion shook at moments. Orton’s year hasn’t exactly been a success. Continuing his Intercontinental title reign, Orton defeated the likes of Shelton Benjamin, Edge and Mick Foley to retain his championship.
Riding a huge wave of momentum that started with a title win over RVD and an unforgettable occurrence where he spit in the face of Mick Foley, Orton seemed as if he was the next big thing in the WWE. Until he found himself standing toe to toe with the Rated R Superstar, Edge.
Edge ultimately ended Orton’s seven month title reign and Orton bounced around for a short period afterwards. Orton quickly rebounded when he won a battle royal to determine who would face the World Champion at SummerSlam.
Last eliminating Chris Jericho, Orton was an unlikely underdog compared to favorites, Y2J and Edge.
The real shock came when fans realized that Orton would possibly face Triple H at the event. Eugene prevented this and Orton vs. Benoit went ahead as planned.
I decided to go to sleep because it was almost certain that Benoit would retain. As soon as I walked into the room I heard the sound of the ref counting three and the curiosity of how Benoit won began to set in.
That is, until I heard the sound of Evolution's theme echoing through the arena.
As me and my siblings stood shocked to see the result, I realized one important factor. He did it by himself.
A typical World Title match that featured someone from Evolution (Triple H) carried all four members at ringside. In some shape or form, Evolution would use dirty tactics to regain or retain the World Championship.
But this rare occurrence saw Orton pin Benoit without assistance and a heel cleanly defeating a face.
When Benoit signaled Orton to be the man and congratulated the kid with a handshake, I felt as if I was Marty McFly heading towards an adventure with Doc Brown.
I could see the future.
When Orton defeated Benoit again the next night, I saw the Evolution beat down coming a mile away. Believe it or not, this angle renewed my interest in Randy Orton and his bright future ahead of him. Triple H would obvious receive a match against Orton but the spit in The Games face healed the wounds of another Triple H title match.
Another Triple H title reign is what I feared.
I passed on the Unforgiven PPV but wasn’t surprised to see that Triple H had won the World Title again.
Happy to see that Orton still remained prominent on the RAW scene and the sight of Triple H hanging upside down in a cake was bonus. The Legend Killer continued feuding with Evolution in the form of Ric Flair. In one of the most brutal cage matches, Orton battered and defeated the Nature Boy.
Great match by the past and the future.
But the real excitement was yet to come. In a rematch, Triple H ensured that Flair would defeat Orton at a chair short but the real story Evolutions arrogance that angered the entire roster. Surrounded by each member, Triple H and Ric Flair were destroyed with the exclamation point being an RKO to the Game.
Onto the Royal Rumble, Orton was set for a match with Triple H. unless the crowd was extremely inattentive; Orton received little, if any, crowd reaction when he entered.
Houston we have a problem.
The WWE noticed it too and immediately placed Orton in a feud with Undertaker. Despite still being a face, Orton exhibited the qualities of a heel and after an RKO to Stacy Keibler, Orton’s status as a heel was cemented.
At WrestleMania, Orton had me out of my seat when he reversed the choke slam into a RKO.
The streak was over.
Undertaker kicked out of the RKO and Orton’s arrogance led him to lose the match after attempting a tombstone piledriver on Taker. Orton went down with an injury and when the draft came knocking, he was moved to SmackDown!
Quickly renewing his feud with The Undertaker, Orton took on Taker at SummerSlam and finally defeated Undertaker. A slew of matches followed with Orton getting the upper hand each time until the casket match.
Orton defeated Taker again but this time set the casket on fire.
The moment haunted me because I always wondered how Taker got out of the casket.
Weeks passed and Orton led Team SmackDown to a win over RAW at the Survivor Series. Undertaker made his triumphant return and cleared the ring to Orton’s surprise. Setting up the Hell in a Cell match for Armageddon, Orton began to experience serious psychological problems and begged for the match to be canceled.
No can do Mr. Orton
Orton unleashed a mean streak before the match and beat Undertaker to a bloody pulp.
Orton’s efforts were wasted when he was defeated inside the structure.
Thus ending my favorite feud and leaving us with the question “what’s Orton going to do next?”
Skipping over the Mysterio/Angle/Orton/Guerrero fiasco that ended at WrestleMania 22, when Orton was moved back to RAW, I lost interest in his character. Teaming with Edge was a bonus but some of the things they accomplished were predictable.
When the team finally ended and Edge was moved to SmackDown, we saw the first sign of the Viper.
Orton was punting legends in the head and ending careers as time passed. There was only a matter of time before Cena would land on Orton’s bull’s-eye. Numerous matches just for Cena to go down with an injury and the WWE hand Orton the title.
Somewhere along the way, Orton lost the charisma he had. The robotic voice and psychopathic gimmick overshadowed the Legend Killer and I hated it.
The punts, boring promos, and staleness of Orton’s character have reached an all-time high. I was able to tolerate Orton as a heel but when he turned face, I was interested.
Problem was the uncreativeness of WWE Creative.
They were trying to make Orton the PG Era’s SCSA.
As of late, it looks as if the WWE has succeeded. Now that CM Punk has his sights locked on Orton, just maybe they’ll consider dropping the Viper gimmick. Orton’s plans for success would be to drop the gimmick, grow his hair back, and refurbish the Legend Killer.
Let’s all admit, he was more entertaining than the Viper.