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Can Orton even his WrestleMania record this year?
By BOB KAPUR - SLAM! Wrestling


How easy it is to forget that Randy Orton and CM Punk met at WrestleMania before -- WM23 in the Money in the Bank match. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea


Randy Orton's career has had its share of ups and downs. Many times, it seemed that the Viper was on the verge of great things, only to have his momentum cooled, be it by injury or backstage politics, and it seems like he has only finally hit his stride in the past year, becoming arguably the most popular guy on the roster. His WrestleMania record may seem reflective of the inconsistencies of his career path, with an overall record of 3-4 heading into his match against CM Punk.

Orton debuted at WrestleMania 20, during his tenure with Evolution, teaming with Ric Flair and Batista against The Rock and Sock Connection in a Handicap match. This was a really fun match, and while it looked like Mick Foley was going to put Orton away with Mr. Socko, Orton's "Legend Killer" nickname proved accurate, as he put down Foley with an RKO to get the pin, to the disappointment of the raucous crowd. Record: 1-0.

By WrestleMania 21, Orton had been kicked out of Evolution, and looking to prove himself on the singles front, he decided to challenge The Undertaker to a match, vowing to end The Streak. Despite putting on a good effort, he wasn't able to get the job done, even with the help of his father, Hall of Famer, Cowboy Bob Orton, and was put down with a Tombstone. Record: 1-1.

Orton's match at WM 22 was probably his best one to date, which isn't surprising, given that his opponents in this three-way match were Rey Mysterio and then World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle. The three worked really well together, with some good interplay between all three. After being on the wrong end of a series of finishing moves, Orton was pinned by Mysterio. Record: 1-2.

Leading up to Mania 23, Orton had been alternately teaming and feuding with Edge. Instead of logically putting them in a match, it was decided the two of them would be entered into that year's Money in the Bank match. Edge was taken out of the match early with an injury, and Orton didn't really play a significant role in the balance of the match, which saw Mr. Kennedy grab the briefcase for the win. Record: 1-3.


Randy Orton and Triple H team up against John Cena at WM24 in Los Angeles. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea
By WrestleMania 24, Orton had climbed his way back to the top of the card, and went into his three-way match against John Cena and Triple H as the WWE Champion. Cena had surprisingly returned to action a couple of months earlier, wining the Royal Rumble, and it looked like he would take the belt. But the wily Orton was able to beat the odds, punting HHH after he had Pedigreed Cena, and stealing the pin to retain his belt. Record: 2-3.

His and HHH's paths would cross again the following year, at WM 25, this time in singles action. This one was expected to be an intense fight, as the buildup saw Orton and his Legacy cohorts (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase) beat up all of the members of the McMahon family (acknowledged as Triple H's in-laws) in the weeks leading up to the event. The match didn't quite live up to the expectation, especially following the epic match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, and when Orton lost, it was to a tepid reaction. Record: 2-4.


Legacy implodes as Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase trap Randy Orton at WM26 in Phoenix. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea
Last year, at WrestleMania XVI, Orton was out of title contention, and instead had to deal with the breakup of Legacy, as he met Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase in a triple threat match. In reality, it was a handicap match, with Orton at the disadvantage. Orton's win, and indeed the entire Legacy split/feud, ended up being counterproductive, since it ended up making Rhodes and DiBiase look very weak, a stigma that Rhodes is only overcoming now, and DiBiase has never quite recovered from. Record: 3-4.

In the past year, Orton has emerged as one of the most popular wrestlers in the company, despite actions that would generally be used by a villain (like kicking a downed opponent in the head). Meanwhile, his WrestleMania opponent, CM Punk, has become one of the most despised, even though his lifestyle choices would generally be considered as being honourable. Like Orton's career, and his past WrestleMania results, the inconsistencies in that aren't necessarily surprising.

RELATED LINKS

  • Randy Orton bio and story archive
  • More on WrestleMania 27

    Bob Kapur once drove a Dodge Viper, and nearly crashed it after five minutes. E-mail him your driving tips at bobkapur@hotmail.com.