Randy Orton is a pretty bad babyface. He looks like a heel, has the moveset of a heel, talks like a heel, and he occasionally burns down the property of other wrestlers. He swaggers, he has that cockeyed arm thing, and has spent a lot time as a face at the top of the card when his character was ice cold. A lot of these comments aren’t even criticisms; I rather like Orton as a heel. He stalls, he has hubris, and he comes off as a legitimate prick.
Now he sees fit to lay waste to indy wrestling, which couldn’t come off as more heelish. Orton was born into WWE and the door was open for him in a way that it isn’t for others. He’s only ever learned, and worked, one style.
Too often, when a company is number one, they fall victim to the idea that they’re doing everything right. After all, you can’t readily compare the numbers of what they’re doing to the numbers of what they’d be doing with a different business model. It’s lazy and poor business to become convinced that the status quo is simply the best approach. This is Orton’s cardinal sin here, as he portrays the tired winner attitude of someone who didn’t have to work as hard as another person, or even attempt to ever learn to do things another way.
The hellish thing about this situation is that Orton has made it undesirable for those who agree with him to speak up about it. It’s true that psychology in wrestling is being lost, and that an entire re-education has had to take place because we spent too much time relying on spotfests. When I looked back at Royal Rumble 1988, I was treated to a long, excellent old-school match between Ricky Steamboat and Rick Rude where Steamboat worked an arm for damn near the entire match. It was lovely. I believed in the fictional world being presented, and although Steamboat could pull out high-flying moves as needed, he didn’t create a fan numbness to them by overusing that part of the arsenal.
That was it: A likable face trying to overcome an oft-cheating heel with his brains as much as his brawn.
That’s where Orton’s rant becomes so tonedeaf. He spits out an egotistical rant that’s equal parts childish and unnecessary; childish because it belittles fans for wanting something different from a wrestling show when they’re consuming ten hours a week of first-run WWE wrestling, and unnecessary because WWE has such a huge monopoly on the market that only a Ted DiBiase-style heel would feel the need to point out how far above them they are.
I’ve long since had a “So what?” attitude toward wrestlers on Twitter breaking kayfabe, but I genuinely hope that this rant starts a conversation about the damage that can be done to the product. Orton isn’t just a babyface – he’s the babyface World Champion that’s supposed to be defending his title, company, and country against a (surprisingly believable) foreign menace in the main event of a show less than a week away.
Rather than turn his rage out at the world, Orton might be well-served to look inward. His theme music with its incredible opening wail elicits a great response, but his matches often play to silence thereafter. His 13th title reign that he’s so proud of is every bit as dull as most of the others so far, particularly those during face runs.
If Randy Orton had the respect for the product that he’s trying to portray in the rant, he wouldn’t have put the rant out there for all to see. Although at least now we know why he’s such a believable prick.
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