After “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, The Miz, Sasha Banks, and The Brothers of Destruction, the WWE Evil series focused on one of the most iconic villains today, Randy Orton. Each episode offers you an interesting point of view on a wrestler, not through his career or iconic matches but through the creation and the evolution of his/her character. WWE Evil is about dissecting the heel and providing a different spotlight on it. When it comes to Randy Orton, the fine line between the man and the character has often been fragile to the point he forgot who he really was.
The first minute is just frightening as Orton explains how his character works and how he turns into this bad guy we so love to hate. Better known as The Viper, The Apex Predator, or The Legend Killer, he exudes confidence when it comes to inflicting damage and making people suffer. Not to forget, he is one of the best technicians of his generation, with his weapon of mass destruction, the RKO. But is his brand of evil innate or learned?
The young Randy was a kid with no friends, insecure, and lacking confidence. He was bullied at school, which explains the angriness he unleashed when he became a strong and big man. He was also the son of a wrestler he would see 10 to 12 days a year from the age of 4 to 11. He went into a Marine boot camp instead of college, but that didn’t work. The amateur wrestler had no plans for the future until his father called WWF. “I became a pro-wrestler because I didn’t know what else I was going to do,” Orton says.
He was brought to OVW, the WWF’s then-developmental territory and made an immediate impression on a locker room stacked with future World Champions: Batista, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and Shelton Benjamin. Bruce Prichard noticed that he was a natural from day one, and everyone understood it before Randy himself. Quickly after, in 2002, he made his main roster debut and things started to turn bad. He injured his shoulder twice, he was immature, and he had disruptive behaviour. As a member of Evolution, a faction Orton feels blessed to have been a part of, he harnessed his potential. Mick Foley came out of retirement to teach him a lesson, with a monumental hardcore match Orton won. But it was still too much, too soon.
At 24, he had already accomplished more than many wrestlers would in a whole career. He derailed. He messed up when he inducted his father into the 2005 WWE Hall of Fame. Orton confesses he abused substances and got in trouble, to the point of accidentally overdosing. By the end of 2005, Orton needed to go to rehab. He came back more evil than ever, but at that time, the line was more clear between the man and the character. “I was able to use bad experiences I blocked and tie them to my character,” Orton says.
Randy Orton finally learned from his mistakes and became one of the most menacing and believable villains in WWE history by expressing his real-life mistakes and pain and taking it out on his opponents in the ring. He is still that bad guy everybody loves. He has probably done more than anybody else in the business, and he wants more. Like Riddle states, Orton is destroying a life with a smile on his face. And that’s magic.
This episode is a great surprise because even if Randy Orton has been in WWE for 22 years, you realize you have never really known who he is. Quite simply because Orton himself didn’t know. He is the first to say he hurt people in the past. He was a prick, and he did bad things. But he is also the first to say he has changed, enjoying his life in the ring and his life as a husband and a father. Now, at 42, he can make the difference between the man and the character, but what a challenge it has been for him.
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE and Peacock