In advance of Backlash this Sunday, and ahead of what is being billed as ‘The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever’ SteelChair was given access to a media call with one of the matches participants, Randy Orton. Here he talks about how he feels his career compares to The Undertaker’s, whether he would move to NXT in the future and the pressure of working a match with such high expectations.
How did you find out about the Greatest Match of all-time tagline? Does that change how you put the match together?
“Usually if someone calls a match one of the greatest matches of all time, the match has already taken place. The expectations are very high for Edge and I. I wasn’t exactly happy when I heard they were going to be calling it the greatest wrestling match in history before it even went down, but I feel like if anyone can have a great match, it is Edge and I. I consider Edge to be one of the best workers in the business, past, present or future. I feel I have a natural chemistry with him. I think it makes it really hard on us because of those high expectations, and although it’s unlikely we could have the greatest wrestling match ever, I think it makes it very interesting as a fan. As a fan, you want to tune in to Backlash to watch this match between Edge and Orton because it’s supposed to be the greatest match ever. I think it’s a double-edged sword, there’s some positives and some negatives to the tagline, but I’m going to focus on the positives. We are going to go out there and do our absolute best, so at the very least, you’re going to get an Edge and an Orton that are motivated to have the greatest match ever, and that’s going to be enough to get people to tune in.”
There’s a lot of talk at the moment about people like The Undertaker, who is racking up 30 years in the business. You have been in WWE for 20 years yourself. Looking at your career, do you allow yourself to be placed in the same bracket as people like The Undertaker?
“I’ve accomplished a lot in 20 years. I signed my contract with WWE in October 1999, and when I look back at the last 20 years, I have so many memories, and I have had so many amazing matches. I’m humble in regards to my career, though. I know a lot of the matches that were considered great were because of the extremely talented opponents I’ve worked with. I’m one of the last few guys to get to work with these old-school cats that have that same mentality, like Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Triple H, Flair, Foley, and Booker T. As far as comparing careers, I know that I’ve had about 3000 matches and I know that. Although that’s a lot of matches, someone like The Undertaker has had many more. When it all comes down to it though, I think your body of work isn’t how many matches you have, it’s the consistency. If there’s one thing I feel sets me aside in my career, it’s that I’ve really been consistent. In any situation, I’m going to do a good job and try, and I’m going to try and have the greatest match that night, but I’ll always look up to guys like The Undertaker. I feel I’ve got more to do before I could actually compare myself to them.”
We have recently seen Charlotte Flair go to NXT. On the back of your recent interactions with Tommaso Ciampa on Twitter, would a move to NXT be something you would ever consider in the future?
“Whatever Vince gives me to do, whatever my job in a particular situation is, I’m going to do it, and if that’s working with Tommaso Ciampa, then I’d be all for it because I think he’s very talented. I think there’s a few things I could help him with, mainly helping him get a little more out of his career. I know he has been plagued with injuries, but I also know he loves and respects the business. The NXT guys worry me because I see them doing these physically impressive things, but those things are dangerous. They wear and tear on your career. I just turned 40, and my plan would be to keep going until my 50th birthday. I think I would be able to do that for 30 years because of the way I tell stories in the ring. The facial expressions, the little transitional things you do on the fly, or you ad-lib, those are the things people remember. With the NXT matches, you don’t get to invest as much. They are all boom, boom, boom, one thing after another, and although it’s impressive, some of these guys are going to have very short careers. That’s what I worry about with Ciampa. With all these big injuries he has had, he needs to learn how to tell stories and slow it down. The human body wasn’t designed to be able to withstand that type of abuse. There’s a shelf life on that, and if you only get three or four years with WWE, I think you would have to look back and kick yourself. A lot of these guys could extend their careers if they worried about facial expressions and playing the crowd. I would love to go there and share a little of that knowledge.”
Looking forward to your match at Backlash with Edge, how do you record the greatest match ever with someone who has been away for the ring for so long, and has only fought twice since returning?
“I think this match being called the greatest of all time before it has even happened puts a lot of pressure on us. The expectations are astronomical. I have a lot of pressure on my shoulders going in there with a performer that has basically had two matches in ten years. That isn’t a lot of matches. I had 1126 matches in the time span that Edge was gone from the business. So, when you look at those numbers, it almost seems impossible, and it may very well be impossible to have the greatest wrestling match ever. All that being said, if I had to choose one guy to go out there with, and perform to the best of my ability with no room for error, then it would be Edge. Without sounding cocky, this match won’t be good. This match will be great. The question on my mind, on Edge’s mind, and the fans’ minds, is will it be the greatest? I think a lot of people are going to want to see how this goes down, and how we could pull off having one of greatest matches ever during a pandemic where there’s little to no fans. There’s not 80,000 people, which would be ideal, there’s 50 people standing ringside. It’s nothing like the adrenaline rush you get performing in front of a live audience. So, I think the odds are against us, but I think if anyone can pull it off, it’s definitely myself and Edge.”
Finally, why should everyone be tuning in to Backlash this Sunday?
“I don’t think there’s ever been a couple of guys like Edge and myself put in this position before, where a match is called the greatest ever before it even happened. Edge hasn’t wrestled in 10 years, but between the both of us, we have probably have 50 years’ experience, and I think we are both kind of neck and neck as far as being two guys that are the best of this generation. People need to tune in to see what we are both capable of, who is going to win this match, and then what happens afterwards. It’s going to be great, and we are going to do our very damn best to make it the greatest wrestling match ever.”
Backlash airs on Sunday, June 14th at Midnight BST exclusively on WWE Network.
Special thanks to DS Communication – All pics and videos courtesy of WWE