Randy Orton is the current WWE Champion who has been a part of WWE’s main roster for 15 years. He was part of WWE’s greatest “rookie class” ever in 2002 with the likes of Brock Lesnar, John Cena and Batista. The four men have combined to win the equivalent of 40 WWE World Titles in their careers and that number would be higher if Lesnar didn’t leave WWE for eight years. This is not about them, though. It’s about Orton.
I was trying to think of what I would write about this week because it was a slow news week in the wrestling world and the WWE product isn’t that “hot” right now. However, over the weekend, a bit of a Twitter storm started thanks to a contribution from Orton. Let’s dive into it. See what I did there?
The “Dive” discussion begins…
Rip Rogers, who was a wrestler in the 1980s and 1990s that wasn’t known as a major player in the business, tweeted about something he received from a friend in the wrestling business.
Just got this …. pic.twitter.com/S8Vczlmbew
— Rip Rogers (@Hustler2754) May 13, 2017
Randy Orton shared that tweet and offered a one-word take on it by putting “…dive” as a comment on it. The link between Orton and Rogers is that Rogers was a head trainer in Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2001 when Orton signed his WWE deal at 21 years of age.
Rogers helped train most of WWE’s biggest names while in OVW through the 2000s and if you follow him on Twitter, you will see that a lot of wrestlers share his opinion. He was also a great guest on Steve Austin’s podcast back in March because the two men shared a lot of similar opinions on old school wrestling.
What Rogers meant by the “dive” comment is when wrestlers focus on doing dives over the top rope or through the ropes to attack somebody on the floor. For example, if you go to an indie wrestling show, you might see a lot of different people do dives onto opponents on the floor. That’s just part of the way they work. Even if you only watch WWE, you’ll see that a lot of the guys do the suicide dive spot (Ambrose, Rollins, Aries, Samoa Joe and others) during their matches. Daniel Bryan did it too. If you see the same moves over and over, they lose their effectiveness. Makes sense, right?
That brings me to a talented younger wrestler named Will Ospreay. He’s one of the best wrestlers not under a WWE deal who is also only 24 years old. He has gained notoriety as one of the best high-fliers in the world that works for the second biggest wrestling company in the world, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and also Ring of Honor, which celebrated 15 years of business this year. Anyway, after the tweet from Rogers and support from Orton, Ospreay had a “Dive” shirt made.
It’s a clever idea that was met with a good response from Ospreay’s fans who may see a guy like Orton as a boring wrestler while Ospreay is great at doing the “dive” mentioned on the shirt.
The topic continued as a point of interest for wrestling fans when Orton tweeted former WWE wrestler Bubba Ray Dudley, who wrestles as Bully Ray for Ring of Honor now, and Bubba responded to it.
— Bubba Ray Dudley (@bullyray5150) May 13, 2017
Lol there is a difference between a young hungry talent diving and an old outta shape 'vet' …….falling https://t.co/RE81C5sm3z
— Randy Orton (@RandyOrton) May 14, 2017
Dear @RandyOrton … my tweet had ZERO to do with you. Looks like you were wrong…again. You're still awesome 👍
Falling > House of Horrors https://t.co/IMG4O59wYo
— Bubba Ray Dudley (@bullyray5150) May 14, 2017
Taking a shot at the awful Orton vs. Wyatt “House of Horrors” match at Payback a few weeks ago was a nice way to end the tweet. It also likely pissed off Orton.
Before diving into Orton expressing himself further, let’s first look at what the negative fans want to mention with Orton.
Looking back at Randy Orton’s mistakes
The fans who are against Orton will point out that he doesn’t have an appreciation for indie wrestling because he was signed to a WWE deal when he was 21 years old and his dad Bob Orton Jr. got him a job. They feel that Orton has no right to complain about what the indie world is like because he never spent time in it. By 22 years of age, Orton was on the main roster and two years later he was the youngest World Champion in WWE history at 24 years old. That was 2004 and I don’t see anybody beating that record any time soon.
Orton has also had a controversial career. Before his WWE run, he was dishonorably discharged from the Marines after he went AWOL. In April 2006, Orton was suspended for 60 days due to “unprofessional conduct” as WWE called it.
Here’s how Orton explained it in the September 2006 edition of WWE Magazine:
“My problems came to a head when I decided to smoke a joint and someone smelled it and stooged me off. You know who you are, so if you’re reading this, thanks. But I also had a few outbursts of anger on the road. I get loud and verbally abusive. But I’ve nipped that part of me in the bud. I attended an anger management clinic in Atlanta. It cost 15 grand for a four-week stay. I had to live down there on the campus. The first week I was there, I was like, ‘OK, I’ll do what I have to do to get out of here.’ But then I started to realize, wow, I was wrong in a lot of these situations. I just got this reputation of being hard to work with, being a dick and everything in the book. But the truth is, I don’t flip out anymore.”
In August 2006, Orton was suspended for violating WWE’s Wellness Policy, which was 30 days and the first strike using their policy rules.
There was more trouble for Orton in August 2007 when Sports Illustrated reported that several wrestlers were caught ordering steroids and other banned substances from Signature Pharmacy. WWE suspended 11 wrestlers for it and even though Orton’s name was on the list, he wasn’t suspended. Why? Because WWE claimed that he was already suspended in 2006, so that covered it. The real reason was that Orton was a top guy that they needed to main event shows. It was questionable by WWE, but that’s what happened.
Orton was suspended for 60 days in May 2012 due to another Wellness Policy violation. That was his second official strike even though it was really his third if they counted the Signature Pharmacy list, which they ignored.
To summarize all of that, Orton has had a checkered past. No doubt about that and I’m not here to defend it. His detractors will also point to that as an example of the kind of guy they think he is. However, it’s also fair to admit that he has matured and changed for the better as well.
Randy Orton’s Place in WWE Today And Going Forward
In the past five years, there haven’t been any issues with Orton. Should he still be accountable for his mistakes? Sure. All of us should, but I think it was one of those cases of a young guy doing stupid things. We all live and learn, right?
In the last few years, Orton got married for a second time and recently had a second daughter. Now at 37 years old, he’s in the twilight of his career and still performing at a high level. When I say twilight of his career, it doesn’t mean he’s going to retire in a year or two. Most likely, he’ll try to go for another five years or so if his body holds up. He’s dealt with several injuries in his career including shoulder issues, which has led to multiple surgeries. He appears to be as healthy and as happy as ever, though, so that’s great for him.
Orton is the current WWE Champion that will defend the gold against Jinder Mahal at Sunday’s Backlash pay-per-view. If Orton can get by the surprising No. 1 contender, he could face the likes of Rusev and Baron Corbin in future WWE Title defenses. I think those rivalries are all pretty good, but I’d also like to see Orton take on AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura at some point as well.
I think it’s fair to say that WWE views Orton as a veteran talent that they can use to put over a younger wrestler when they feel like somebody deserves it. Corbin is the one that sticks out the most because if he were to get elevated to that main event level and beat Orton for his first WWE Title, it would mean a lot for his career.
Orton was known as a “Legend Killer” in the first few years of his career since he was a younger guy on the rise beating up older guys. Now he’s in that legendary spot himself and he’s the guy with the target on his back. That’s the evolution of the wrestling business, after all.
Orton Adds To The Drama
The WWE Raw and Smackdown rosters participated in nearly two-week long tours of Europe. They taped episodes of Raw and Smackdown while also traveling every day to different cities to perform in front of big crowds.
Orton, who must have enjoyed creating a buzz on Saturday, added to it on Sunday. Orton shared this tweet 1:39 a.m. in Denmark (it was 7:39 p.m. ET here on the east coast) on the last leg of WWE Smackdown’s European tour.
I really need to issue an apology…. pic.twitter.com/N8NqRZu9Es
— Randy Orton (@RandyOrton) May 14, 2017
I’ll even write it out for the people who can’t read the tweet for whatever reason.
“Sorry to the indy marks, indy guys and old timers who do DIVES that took offense. Just having a good time over a few drinks in Denmark closing the Smackdown Live tour, while beating Raw in making over 5 million dollars in the last 11 shows. Now I know to some that doesn’t equate to a standing room only crowd of 150 people paying $8 at an armory somewhere, but in the big boy world that’s called putting asses in seats. So enjoy your flips, dives, and 20 superkicks per match. To each their own. I will go ‘dive’ back into my 13th title run and get ready to ‘flip’ when my bank statement comes this month….headlock.”
It was brutally honest. Are people legitimately mad about it? Probably. However, the man makes some good points. He doesn’t need to worry about what the indies are doing because he’s main eventing shows while noting that the Smackdown crew sold $5 million worth of tickets for 11 shows. It’s an impressive figure that is worth bragging about.
The question then becomes, is Orton the draw or is it the WWE brand that’s the draw? Frankly, it’s the brand more than anything else because those fans are going to watch WWE no matter who is there, but obviously Orton is a big name due to his history in the company. Whether you like it or not, Orton has earned the right to be cocky about something like this.
Regarding the “20 superkicks per match” line, he was likely mentioning the ROH/NJPW tag team The Young Bucks with that. They are known to throw “superkick parties” during matches. I think Orton’s point is that if you do a move too often, it limits the effectiveness of it within the parameters of a match.
While I wouldn’t expect a lot of WWE wrestlers to respond to what Orton said, his former Evolution buddy Batista backed Orton in a tweet on Sunday night.
— Dave Bautista (@DaveBautista) May 15, 2017
Another talented young wrestler named Ricochet (also known as Prince Puma on Lucha Underground) offered this intelligent take on the matter.
Guys, not everyone is going to like every style of wrestling. Same in any sport or music, movies & pretty much every form of entertainment.
— King Ricochet (@KingRicochet) May 15, 2017
I think Ricochet will be WWE bound in a year or two and when he gets there, he’s going to become a big star because he’s more than just a flier. He’s a tremendous all-around performer.
There are others who have commented as well, so search Twitter for it if you want more takes.
My Take On Randy Orton’s Comments
Orton is refreshing. He doesn’t bullshit like most people in the business, especially on Twitter. Orton also doesn’t care if people hate him either. I think we need more people like that in WWE because they stand out from the pack. I like John Cena a lot as a person and a figurehead in WWE, but he rarely says anything controversial. He seems robotic in a lot of ways, which is why The Miz’s impression of Cena was so funny.
If you follow WWE superstars on Twitter, a lot of them spend their time retweeting compliments from fans saying “you’re the best” or “you’re my role model” or whatever it is fans say to suck up to the stars. Everybody in WWE likes compliments. Who wouldn’t, right? Of course they do. Orton isn’t like that and rarely retweets compliments. He rarely tweets and when he does, he usually offers up something very raw that most people in wrestling would never say.
To any non-WWE wrestler who is mad at what Orton said, I hope this gives you a chip on your shoulder. Use it as motivation. Fire yourself up by noting that Orton didn’t have to take a difficult path to get to WWE. If you ever get in the ring with Orton, prove how good you are by outshining him. There’s nothing wrong with being angry about something and improving yourself because of it.
There might be some concern with some of Orton’s peers. There are guys like Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Austin Aries, AJ Styles and so many others that wrestled in those 150-seat armories that also took over a decade to make it in WWE. I’m not sure if any of the wrestlers in WWE are going to say anything about it, though. Don’t piss off a top guy. Wrestlers know better than that.
— Dustin Rhodes (@Goldust) May 15, 2017
Orton’s commentary was about wrestling matches and doing things the old school way. He takes pride in being a good worker. I know that some people might think Orton’s too boring because he grabs too many headlocks (the final word of his message) and as mentioned earlier, he had an awful match at Payback in the House of Horrors. Is that his fault, though, or should we blame creative? I blame creative. He’s just a wrestler doing what he’s told.
I think Orton just wants wrestlers to tone it down a bit in terms of the amount of high spots in their matches. Orton isn’t known for high spots, so it’s easy to see why the haters are mad at him about this. They feel like he shouldn’t be telling indy guys (or anybody else) how to work because he’s not in their shoes. Valid point. However, a better point is that he’s a guy who has headlined WrestleManias, been a main eventer in the biggest company in the world for over 13 years and he knows what he’s talking about. Just because he’s not referencing indie guys regularly doesn’t mean he is unaware of what’s going on.
Orton could be more humble as a top guy, but I don’t think he said anything that was so bad. He was just being Randy Orton. Like him or not, it’s better to be yourself than to act like how others want you to act. That’s what I took away from it and I’m glad Orton said what he said.
Is Orton simply being a jerk or is he just speaking out because he wants the wrestling business to be better? I think it’s a bit of both, but I think he wants the wrestling business to be better more than anything else. You can interpret it how you want. That’s my take. Oh, and there is one more thing…