It is a gift to watch heel Randy Orton go to work on WWE television each week.
When we look at some of the most iconic superstars within WWE history, Ric Flair, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, and John Cena pop into mind (as well as The Undertaker, and others, but I’m trying to lead up to something here …), and really one major theme regarding this group of talent is longevity around a consistent character, with very little to no changes in terms of persona, plus a no-nonsense approach to the gimmick, which lands me to Randy Orton.
As with Hogan, Flair, Austin, and Cena, Orton’s character has had very little evolution over the years, yet still remains very strong, authentic, popular, and some may even say legendary. While Randy has been a face over the years, most can agree that a heel Randy Orton is the best Randy Orton, and The Viper has been on top of his game in 2020.
During a global pandemic, thinning roster at times, a WrestleMania that didn’t quite feel like WrestleMania, and television and pay-per-view (PPV) with little to no crowds, a 20-year veteran has emerged as one of the key MVPs in the WWE during COVID-19 lockdowns. His feud with Edge was epic, his heel promos this year have been excellent, and now he gets a WWE Championship match at the second-biggest WWE event of the year, SummerSlam, and there are many fans that can’t argue the fact that Orton more than deserves this title shot, if not another title reign under his belt (although, that last idea may be an entire article in its own right …)
So, I was inspired to blog about Randy’s recent number one contender status, which leads me down a rabbit hole around Orton’s consistency in character and 20+ years of success doing so. I mean, for the most part, other than some of the talent I listed above, most superstars go through tremendous evolution around their characters multiple times over, using HHH, the Undertaker, and Shawn Michaels as some examples, just to name a few.
At the end of the day, Randy Orton simply encompasses the recipe for sports entertainment: longevity and success. You could change his theme music (although why would you want to), attire, and turn him face; however, the passion he has for this business, intertwined with the character confidence he has, not to mention his in-ring abilities, and motivation to put on incredible matches, are apparent.
These qualities shine through every time he grabs a mic; banters with other superstars while cutting a promo; steps into the squared circle. Orton is undeniably a future WWE Hall of Famer, a legend, and even after over two decades in this business, he’s still one of the top superstars on the roster, biggest heel the company has going on the RAW brand right now, continues to entertain fans and keep them glued to their television sets; and there are no signs that he is slowing down at this rate.
Orton’s overall appeal doesn’t only take a good character, but a man who believes in his persona understands it as more than just a “gimmick”, and is a talent who truly is committed to this business; despite any setback placed in his way. Why do we love Randy Orton so much, despite being a heel? Because Orton has true conviction within his character, a quality that does not grow dull, yet continues to blossom over time.