Randy Orton: Legend or Dream Killer
by Mike Killam May 11, 2011
I've been a fan of Christian for a long time. He's been in some of the craziest matches, best tag teams, and most high profile feuds of the last decade in wrestling. His work with Edge, Booker T, and Chris Jericho has brought us some "instantly classic" moments for sure, but do you know who I liked even more during those feuds? Edge, Booker T, and Chris Jericho.
Christian has always been an enhancement talent in the eyes of Vince McMahon, and I hate to say it, but I agree. He has put over some of the best in the business, grappled with Hall of Famers, and he helped to put the tag team division on the map in the late 90s. But he has never done anything worth mentioning by himself. Edge was the face and mouthpiece of E&C. Trish Statrus was the focal point of his feud with Jericho. Five other guys participated in those TLC and Money in the Bank matches. He has been in the business for thirteen years, and the only thing he accomplished on his own was winning the ECW Championship and holding it for longer than anybody in the WW-ECW era. Put your pitchforks down, it's true. The only reason the internet is up-in-arms over Christian losing the World Heavyweight Championship to Randy Orton is Edge's retirement. The only reason Vince put the belt on Christian at all was for the moment he had with Edge at Extreme Rules. When it comes to his career, it's always been about somebody else.
I'm not condoning what they did, but I'm also not condemning it. Christian is a great worker who has lived in the shadow of better men his entire career. Somebody has to do it. There are guys who will never rise above the mid-card because they exist to put over future superstars. They can have all the athletic ability in the world and the largest cult following imaginable, but you're a dead man if Vince doesn't have faith in you. Remember when Jeff Hardy won the WWE title only to lose it to CM Punk in the same night? Christian is like Jeff Hardy, but without the cash flow to get him a second chance. In his defense, he also doesn't have a jail record. He did, however, go to TNA Wrestling and call the WWE "boring, stale, and lacking direction." That probably didn't help.
Here's the bottom line: Vince likes cash. The IWC hates John Cena and Randy Orton, and will defend Daniel Bryan, Christian, and CM Punk to the death. I have a hunch that's because the IWC are band-wagon jumpers who pretend to know things about indie wrestling. Myself included... John Cena and Randy Orton bring in a ridiculous amount of cash, and that's why you see their face in commercials and on the side of trucks. Jeff Hardy was a transitional champion that started pushing tons of merch (you didn't think I was gonna say merch did you?) and found himself on top of the company. If you have the potential to make money there's no force on this planet that can stop Vince from using you. Jeff Hardy could probably call up Vinnie Mac from jail asking for a third chance, and you'd see him winning Money in the Bank this July.
I understand the collective groan that happened when Christian lost the World Heavyweight Championship. I'm not happy about it. Captain Charisma and Alberto del Rio stole the show on Sunday, which is saying something because Extreme Rules was an incredibly solid Pay-per-view with a lot great action. Before Randy Orton got drafted over to Smackdown, Christian was in a perfect place to be the top face of the brand, and I was excited to see what he would do with the ball once it was given to him. But it's a dream that was never meant to be. The WWE powers-that-be have no interest in placing the company on the shoulders of the "Instant Classic". The next few weeks (maybe months) will define the rest of Christian's career in the WWE. He's going to be upset at how Vince has handled the situation. Edge is going to be upset. But Edge is well-known for keeping his mouth shut and doing what is asked of him... It's how he became one of the greatest World Champions of all time. If Christian continues to show that he is loyal to the WWE no matter what they do with him, even this, he may be given a few more opportunities before the end of his career. But if he becomes vocal about his feelings and begins to display dissatisfaction in the locker room... well, there's really only one place for a 37-year-old almost was WWE superstar to go. He can always be a star in TNA again, any time he wants. The TNA World Championship is basically a hot potato for returning wrestlers... He'll just have to decide if being a mid-card talent in front of 10,000 people a night is better than being a World champ in front of the Impact Zone.
And please, don't get me started on all the people mad at Randy Orton for "taking Christian's place" as the top face on Smackdown. There are so many people whining about how Orton has had his chance in the spotlight and how he "won't let others have a shot". You want to talk about being in the shadows of other men? Ask Randy Orton what it's like to have the best gimmick, biggest reaction, and edgiest character around and STILL play second-fiddle to John Cena on Raw. Edge retiring has opened up a spot for somebody else to step in, and that somebody is not Christian. I'm happy the WWE is finally pulling the trigger on Randy Orton. He has the charisma and the ability to be the top face and locker-room leader. Now that he's on Smackdown he has the chance to be second-to-none. I still think he plays a much better heel, and I have no interest in seeing him be the next John Cena-esk style t-shirt pusher. But it's about time Randy got the chance to step out from the pack. No more Legend Killer. No more Evolution. There is no more feuding with future legends to get him ready. He is the future legend. He is ready.
Great article. The last paragraph was on point. Thoughts?