Opinion: Why Randy Orton should return as a heel
Randy Orton has not been seen on WWE programming since losing to Jeff Hardy at Backlash in May. He had to undergo knee surgery soon after the match and has been ruled out of action indefinitely.
He's expected to appear back on television before SummerSlam, potentially at Extreme Rules, to begin his return. His injury was a huge blow to the SmackDown Live roster, naturally, as he was one of the top faces within the brand. With that in mind, I believe that Orton should return as a heel.
Why a heel turn makes sense
Orton has always done his best work as a heel, having been part of numerous villainous stables in the past including Evolution, The Authority, the Wyatt Family and Legacy. He was red-hot during his feud with the McMahon family and Batista back in 2009, having worked as a sinister heel. His heinous tactics drove the McMahon family to the limit and he even managed to win the title from Triple H at Backlash all those years ago.
His run-in with the Wyatt Family was his most noteworthy act since returning in 2016 from a shoulder injury. The crowd have always been intrigued by the way in which Orton is being booked, especially as a heel. In recent interviews, the man himself admitted that he loves working in this manner.
With all due respect to Orton, the main reason why he receives positive reactions from fans at present is because of the RKO, which is the most over finisher within WWE today. His character has become bland and stale, it's clear that his current character needs a heel turn.
Endless storylines, versatility and a quality Big Cass replacement
Ever since his feud with Brock Lesnar finished, he is yet to have been involved in a meaningful storyline. Matches against the likes of Jinder Mahal and Bray Wyatt are ultimately not good enough for a wrestler of his quality.
In addition to this, Big Cass was released this past week. His departure has left a huge void that can only be filled by a star of Randy's calibre. He'd replace him as a top heel, whilst adding some depth and further unpredictability to the SmackDown roster in this way.
The possibilities themselves are countless for Orton as a villain. He could form an abominable stable with under-utilised heels including Shelton Benjamin and The Bar, restart his previous feud with Hardy or even attempt to take the top prize off AJ Styles' shoulders. Orton could have his best run in years, should he return from injury as a heel on the blue brand.