October 7, 2004
REAL NAME: Randy Orton
This latest addition to the Orton wrestling clan was given a solid background before he entered the professional ranks. After competing in amateur wrestling in high school in St. Louis, Mo, (making it to the Danny Hodge World High School Championships), he learned the basics from his father. Traveling with his father also gave the younger Orton a taste for what life was like on the road.
A stint in the Marines left Orton, briefly, in trouble with the U.S. military for going AWOL. But at the age of 19, Orton was signed to a WWE contract in 2000. Like a lot of the up-and-coming stars of today, Randy put his time in with the WWE's developmental territories in Memphis and Ohio Valley Wrestling, beginning in May 2000. Orton trained and wrestled under the tutelage of trainer Danny Davis and talent scout Jim Cornette.
During his time in Ohio Valley, Orton would face the likes of Rico Constantino and the Prototype (later known John Cena), and team with veteran Bobby Eaton in the Ohio Valley tag team title tournament. By the early summer of 2001 he was a two-time OVW Hardcore Champion, defeating Mr. Black on February 14th, 2001 and Flash Flanagan on May 5th 2001.
Orton's time in the territories earned him enough attention to be named Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Rookie of the Year for 2001. By April 2002 he was wrestling in the WWE full time. Originally, he was part of the Smackdown roster, starting with a program against Hardcore Holly. On May 31st, he received a WWE title match against The Undertaker.
In September, 2002, Orton jumped from Smackdown to Raw, defeating Stevie Richards in his debut on the show. However, soon afterwards, Orton went down to a shoulder injury and had to have surgery. Ironically, the injury helped with his heel turn, as "special bulletins" would interrupt Raw broadcasts so that Orton could inform all his fans as to the progress of his recovery.
As 2003 began, so did, in earnest, the era of a new wrestling supergroup. However, it wouldn't be until that spring that Orton, back from both the shoulder injury and a foot injury, joined forces with Triple H, Ric Flair and Dave Bautista to form "Evolution". Much like the Four Horsemen and the nWo before them, Evolution seemingly took on everyone in the WWE, with Orton seeing action against Goldberg, the Dudleyz, Shawn Michaels and Scott Steiner.
With Evolution's help, Orton quickly rose through the WWE singles ranks, even getting a chance to participate in the "Elimination Chamber" event at SummerSlam 2003 for the WWE title. By year's end, Evolution would hold all the gold in the WWE, as Orton defeated Rob Van Dam at Armageddon '03 to win the Intercontinental Championship.
Meanwhile, Orton was developing his "Legend Killer" gimmick which started after he defeated Shawn Michaels atUnforgiven in September 2003. Orton would also defeat such legends as Sgt. Slaughter and attack others including the Fabulous Moolah and Harley Race.
But Orton's "Legend Killer" gimmick would really pick up steam when he crossed paths with legend Mick Foley. After spitting in Foley's face, Orton was stunned with the "hardcore legend" simply walked away from their impending match. After weeks of gloating and hounding Foley, Orton would have to put his money where his mouth was when Foley returned to the WWE. After an Evolution attack, Foley would recruit the Rock to challenge Orton and his Evolution partners, Flair and Bautista to a match at Wrestlemania XX. In a bit of a surprise, it was Evolution that came out on top during that match.
By July, Orton had begun bragging that he was the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion in seven years, having held the title for seven months, defeating everyone from Rob Van Dam to Shelton Benjamin to Chris Jericho. However, he could not overcome the challenge of Edge at July's Vengeance pay-per-view and Orton's title reign came to an end.
Two weeks later, however, Orton would win a Number One contender's battle royale to win the right to face World Champion Chris Benoit at SummerSlam where the world was stunned (although rumours had persisted for weeks prior) when Orton defeated Chris Benoit and became the WWE Champion at the age of 24. However, Orton's joy was short-lived as he was unceremoniously dumped from Evolution the next night on Raw. A few weeks later, Orton's title reign would end at WWE Unforgiven at the hands of Evolution leader, Triple H.
Undaunted by the title loss, Orton took aim at regaining the strap and bringing down Evolution. He first went after Ric Flair, defeating the Nature Boy in a Steel Cage match at Taboo Tuesday, but a few weeks later,with the help of Batista, Flair got revenge, ensuring Orton never got a title shot during Triple H's then-current reign.
At the Survivor Series, Orton teamed with Benoit, Maven and Jericho to gain control of Raw for the next month. And he would also contend for the World title again, first at New Year's Revolution, when he took part in the Elimination Chamber match, and then against Triple H, one-on-one, at the Royal Rumble.
It was at the Royal Rumble where Orton first began suffering the effects of a concussion, which took its toll on Orton as he battled Christian and Tyson Tomko in the weeks that followed.
As the effects wore off, Orton began to challenge the Undertaker for a match at Wrestlemania XXI. Before he got to L.A., he had turned heel, RKOing both Jake Roberts and Stacey Keibler, and attacking the Undertaker, with some help from his father, Cowboy Bob Orton.
Unfortunately, Orton also suffered a shoulder injury, one that would be written into the match when Orton's attempt at a Tombstone piledriver was reversed by 'Taker, who got the Wrestlemania win. After being defeated by Batista the next night on Raw, Orton underwent surgery and was expected to be out for the next three or four months.
Being on the "injured reserve" list didn't stop Orton from being drafted to Smackdown in June and Orton quickly made an impact on his new show, helping JBL defeat the Undertaker. Despite bravado from Orton, the Undertaker continued to play mind games, only to fall to defeat at SummerSlam, thanks to some help from Randy's father, Cowboy Bob Orton. With the psychological warfare continuing, Randy and Cowboy Bob defeated the Undertaker again at No Mercy in a handicap casket match, even setting the casket on fire after the match.
With the Undertaker out of the way (for now), Orton helped his father in a short feud against Bob Orton's former employer Rowdy Roddy Piper. Meanwhile, Randy was also involved in the Smackdown vs. Raw feud that culminated with Orton winning the brand vs. brand Survivor Series matchup.
Orton came under fire for a segment in which he destroyed the late Eddie Guerrero's low-rider, with the Undertaker inside. The Undertaker returned for revenge, leading to Undertaker's victory over Orton in a Hell in a Cell match at Armaggedon.
Disappointed by his loss to the Undertaker, Randy Orton rebounded when he was asked to replace Booker T in his Best-of-Seven series against Chris Benoit for the U.S. title. Although Orton lost the first two matches against Benoit (Matches #5 and 6 of the series), he got some help from Booker to take the deciding match.
After being the last man eliminated by Rey Mysterio at the Royal Rumble, Orton made some tasteless comments about Mysterio's friend, Eddie Guerrero, to force Rey into putting up his Wrestlemania title shot in a match at No Way Out. Orton won the match and headed to Wrestlemania to face Kurt Angle and Mysterio for the World Heavyweight title, only to come up short at Rey won the championship.
But only two days removed from the high of WrestleMania 22, Orton got suspended for 60 days for unprofessional conduct, which resulted in fines and treatment for anger issues.
Less than two months later, though, Orton began a short feud with Kurt Angle, which culminated in Angle defeating Orton at ECWís One Night Stand. A couple weeks later, Orton would win a rematch with Angle at Vengeance before quickly turning to feud with Hulk Hogan.
Perhaps more to showcase Hoganís daughter Brooke and her new music video, Orton was shown lusting after the 18-year-old on TV. Ortonís only match with the Hulk in a nearly two-month-long feud saw Hogan go over at SummerSlam.
Ortonís next high-profile series would begin in the fall when he teamed with Edge to form Rated RKO to feud with Degeneration-X. That would last only until New Yearís Revolution when Triple H suffered a torn quad, leaving Shawn Michaels the only Degenerate left for the next few months. Still, the program would continue as Rated RKO and Michaels went back and forth in tag and singles matches.
For WrestleMania 23, Orton found himself on the losing end of a Money in the Bank ladder match that Mr. Kennedy won. Seemingly repeating history, Orton got kicked off a WWE European tour later that month after wrecking a hotel room.
By May 2007, Orton began kicking his prone opponents in the head, starting with Michaels. Heíd go on to boot Dusty Rhodes, Sgt. Slaughter and John Cena Sr. in the head, the latter action sparking a brief feud with Champion Cena. That program, however, was short-lived as Cena had to vacate the title after tearing a pectoral muscle on RAW.
At No Mercy, Orton would be awarded the WWE Championship, lose it to Triple H, look on as Triple H successfully defended the belt against Umaga, before taking it back by defeating Triple H in a Last Man Standing match.
On Raw, Vince McMahon called on the roster to line up and shake Orton's hand. Michaels made his surprise return and superkicked Orton instead. At Cyber Sunday, Orton deliberately low blowed Michaels in order to stop the match and get himself disqualified. For their next meeting, Orton secured a stipulation that banned Michaels from using Sweet Chin Music, and at Survivor Series, Orton won with an RKO.
Orton would have a brief feud with a returning Chris Jericho, who interrupted Orton's "Passing of the Torch" ceremony on Raw. Jericho would beat Orton at Armageddon, but only by DQ after JBL interfered in the match.
Jeff Hardy and John Cena were next in line for Orton, but he managed to retain the belt against both of them. He and Triple H would tangle again, this time on the road to WrestleMania, and Cena managed to insert himself into the fight. But Orton beat them both in a three-way at WrestleMania 24. But at Backlash, Triple H won in a four-way to win the WWE championship. Triple H retained again in a steel cage at Judgment Day, and a Last Man Standing bout at One Night Stand. The latter contest only lasted about 12 minutes, as Orton sustained a broken collarbone. Not helping the situation was a motorcycle accident a month later that sidelined him even longer.
Three months after the initial injury, Orton appeared on Raw September 1, verbally jousting with CM Punk, and beginning his grooming program with Ted DiBiase Jr. and Cody Rhodes. He'd make sporadic appearances, including at Unforgiven, where he kicked Punk in the head. But he didn't return to wrestling in matches until November, when he re-ignited his feud against Punk. He lost by DQ in their first tilt, but won a lumberjack match a couple weeks later. Orton got the upper hand on Punk again at Survivor Series, when Team Orton defeated Team Batista.
By this time, Orton was shoring up who'd be part of his Legacy group, and he would soon oust Manu and Sim Snuka from the running, while Rhodes and DiBiase solidified their positions. He'd need them, for he'd seemingly lose his mind in challenging the authority of the McMahon clan. Orton would boot Vince in the head, which eventually drew Shane back to action. Orton beat Shane at No Way Out, but the war was far from over. Orton would kick Shane in the head on Raw, and also RKO Stephanie, which drew her husband Triple H. Orton and Triple H agreed to meet at WrestleMania, which began a string of one-upmanship contests, where each week one would take progressively crazier and more violent actions against the other. Orton and Legacy would dismantle Triple H one week, the next Triple H invaded Orton's home and beat him up. The following week, the Orton Gang attacked Triple H and handcuffed him to the ring ropes, before Orton knocked out Trip's wife, gave her a smooch and smashed Triple H with a sledgehammer. Although Triple H defeated Orton at WrestleMania 25, the feud was still not over.
On the next Raw, Orton demanded a rematch and threatened Stephanie's kids. That night, he got a match with Vince instead, which ended in a no contest when all the other participants (minus Stephanie) hit the ring to go at it. Batista too would show up, marking his return to the ring. Orton would get his rematch, but a non-title one on Raw in England. He'd win, but only after a lot of confusion from run-ins by the various other combatants. Who will still be standing after Orton and Legacy face off against Batista, Triple H, and Shane-O-Mac at Backlash?
As it turned out, it would be Orton, who managed not only to survive, but to nail Triple H with an RKO and a kick to the head for the 1-2-3 and the WWE Championship. But with Batista winning a number one contender's match on Raw, Orton's reign would remain under serious threat.
Well aware of that fact, Orton had his Legacy minions Rhodes and DiBiase help him soften up Batista before their confrontation at Judgment Day. The double-teaming, however, might have only made Batista more determined. Orton, sensing the momentum was against him in their match, got himself disqualified by slapping the referee. Flair helped prevent a post-match beat down, and thereafter took it upon himself to straighten out Orton. But Flair was outnumbered as Legacy helped their leader in a parking lot brawl against Flair, tossing Flair into a steel cage and giving Orton the chance to kick him in the head while Batista was on the outside powerless to stop him.
If Orton's actions were meant to cripple Batista's morale, then they backfired, for at Extreme Rules, Batista powerbombed his way to a WWE Championship win inside the steel cage. But thanks to a bicep tear he suffered in April, Batista would not be able to defend the title.
The storyline that played out was that Legacy attacked The Animal the next day on Raw, with Orton locking Batista's arm in a steel chair and stomping it until it broke. He then called for a re-match. General Manager Vickie Guerrero revealed Orton could win the title back if Batista failed to show. Once the match began, Orton waited in the ring for the referee to count out Batista and award him the WWE belt. But Triple H appeared, and gave back some of Orton's medicine, cracking him with the steel chair a few times before Pedigreeing him into it.
A week later on Raw, and Orton again demonstrated his resilience, regaining the WWE title by winning a Fatal Four-way match against Triple H, Big Show and John Cena. The losers joined seven others later the same night to participate in a 10-man Battle Royal that would award the winner a shot at Orton and his championship at The Bash. Triple H came out on top, but would be given an earlier chance to strike as new Raw owner Donald Trump scheduled a Last Man Standing title match for the following week.
-- compiled by John Milner and Richard Kamchen