The People’s Column: Randy Orton and WWE’s Huge Mistake

Perhaps many of you are squinting and turning sideways at the title of this column right now. I know that when mistake appears in my headline, you all tend to expect TNA to be right next to it. Especially after last week when this column was a tirade about everything wrong with TNA’s world title tournament. However, I do have to call WWE out this week. To read continued conversation on TNA’s world title tournament, check out, where I am also discussing my predictions for the Wrestlemania card over seven months out from the show.

At Summerslam WWE made a huge mistake. No, it was not with the ending of The Nexus vs Team WWE, although Cena did get up a little too fast from that DDT on the concrete. This mistake was in the WWE Championship match. The huge mistake that WWE made was not putting the WWE Championship on Randy Orton.

Orton has never been hotter as a character. In 2004 when he first won the championship he seemed hot, but fizzled quickly. As the dastardly heel that he has played multiple variations of from 2005 – 2010, he was never the heel that you could build a company around, the way you could with Ric Flair. Now, he seems to be becoming a close second to John Cena’s number one babyface position.

No one in wrestling today is able to garner the passionate reactions that Randy Orton is currently getting from crowds. As I sat in the Staple’s Center at Summerslam and Raw the next evening no one, not even John Cena, was able to garner the level of passion and intensity from the crowd that Orton captured. As Randy Orton began his babyface comebacks on each night, the crowd grew extraordinarily loud and got wrapped up in his intensity. When he hit the floor and began pounding his fists, the scream grew louder. Even louder was the reaction as he beat the hell out of Sheamus with a steel chair the next evening on Raw.

Now, who else has garnered this level of emotion from the crowd this year? Team WWE on the last Raw before Summerslam had a huge moment as they faced off with The Nexus. That was a moment that took 13 men to make, not just one or two. Randy Orton was able to make an arena erupt, not in a face-off that had been building up for two months, but in a moment.

Last month I asked if is was the time to push Randy Orton as the WWE Champion. Now, as I have seen the reactions that he can garner, I know that it was. WWE had a good thing going with Orton and Sheamus. They had an intense one on one feud that could build to be even bigger. They had the opportunity for Sheamus to become more and more desperate as Orton reigned as champion. Finally, it could culminate in a Hell in a Cell match that is Sheamus’ last chance at regaining that title.

Of course in that time Orton would become the face of Raw. It would give fans the hope that John Cena would not be the heavily featured, title dominating force that he has been since 2005. Now, instead of Orton getting his crowning moment as a face and instead of a rematch that would draw intense heat from the crowd, we are getting a six pack challenge. This match ties in every storyline in the Raw main event scene, but does not do so cleanly. It is not a situation where a multiple man main event is needed (Aside from needing all of the top stars on the Night of Champions show. Please don’t tell me that Edge and Jericho could be a tag team or anything like that. This is the only way to get all six of those men on that show). It is not even a situation where Orton can become a favorite to win.

At most, he can hope to split the crowd with John Cena. On top of that he has to contend with Edge and Chris Jericho who have both been playing tweener characters since joining Team WWE last month. That means that four men will be fighting it put for the lead babyface heat in the six pack challenge, and even if Orton actually ins that match, there may be no way for him to get the huge reactions he has been garnering.

Very few times in wrestling is there an opportunity to make a moment. WWE missed the boat on that one in Los Angeles, where he should have been celebrating his victory the night after Summerslam as opposed to attacking his foe. I believe that this program can get back on track and hope that Orton will eventually win the championship with the same level of crowd reaction he has been garnering.

For more thoughts on wrestling, including what I see at the Wrestlemania main events in seven months, check out Thanks for reading!

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