#1 WrestleMania 21 – A WrestleMania morning decision
I remember being at WrestleMania 21, in the lobby of the Sheraton Universal, in Hollywood. An intoxicated and irritated Randy Orton asked me and my friend Craig for a cigarette, which we gave him. Something wasn’t right. Orton stormed in and out of the hotel several times that night, while most of the other talents had gone to bed early, knowing that WrestleMania was the next day.
I don’t know why Randy was angry or what time he eventually went to bed. I also didn’t know what I know now. That being that, Randy Orton was ending the streak the next day, although I certainly expected it.
Never had the streak been so heavily acknowledged on TV at the time and it was because Orton was the “legend killer.” Orton had been replaced in the main event by Batista, after a failed face-turn, therefore, turning him heel and having him defeat The Undertaker was planned to rebuild his momentum.
Unfortunately for Orton, information about his behaviour from the night before got back to Vince McMahon, and McMahon was not willing to reward this behaviour by having him end The Undertaker’s streak. That night, Kurt Angle of SmackDown beat Raw’s Shawn Michaels and SmackDown’s Undertaker also beat Raw’s Randy Orton.
SmackDown was not initially booked to defeat Raw 2-0 in the Raw vs. SmackDown matches. This was a result of Orton’s behaviour over the weekend.
Randy Orton has often spoken about these dark years and his struggles with substances and depression, which almost lead to him committing suicide. Orton is a very different man these days and has overcome all the demons in his life. In a September 2006 interview with WWE Magazine Orton discussed the issue, saying:
“My problems came to a head when I decided to smoke a joint and someone smelled it and stooged me off. You know who you are, so if you’re reading this, thanks. But I also had a few outbursts of anger on the road. But I’ve nipped that part of me in the bud. I attended an anger management clinic in Atlanta. The first week I was there, I was like, OK, I’ll do what I have to do to get out of here.” But then I started to realize, wow, I was wrong in a lot of these situations. I just got this reputation of being hard to work with. But the truth is, I don’t flip out anymore.”
It doesn’t get closer than a decision being changed on the day of the show. It’s especially incredible when you consider the fact that all that had to happen for the streak to end at WrestleMania 21, was for Randy Orton to apply some common sense and go to bed at a sensible hour.
Unfortunately for Orton, he did not. As you can see from the video above, the stage was set for Orton to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania 21.