Randy Orton: The Journey of The Viper

Randy Orton has walked many roads on his path to WWE immortality
Randy Orton has walked many roads on his path to WWE immortality

When The Beatles' song 'The Long and Winding Road' plays, Randy Orton knows exactly what they're talking about.

After 20 years, he continues to walk through the WWE Universe, adapting to anything along his path. The man known as The Viper has literally seen it all in WWE. He's held numerous championships, been part of a super faction, and set several franchise records.

Orton also drinks in the audulation of fans worldwide. He's one of those performers who is so good at what he does, the people cheer for him whether he's a heel or a babyface.

He's earned the respect of not only the audience, but critics and observers as well. But it wasn't always that way. It took a while for Randy Orton to grow from Legend Killer into a Legend of his own.

Even as a fresh faced kid, Randy Orton knew he was something special and had a built-in swagger.

Orton entered WWE's training program in 2001, but everyone already knew who he was upon arrival. As a third generation performer, he would have some pretty big shoes to fill.

His father, Bob Orton Jr., played a huge role in the rock-n-wrestling boom of the mid-80's that helped build the then-WWF into a powerhouse. He was considered one of the great mat technicians of his generation.

Both RKO's grandfather (Bob Sr.) and uncle (Barry Orton/Barry O) were also pros, so the bloodline for greatness was always there.

However, there were some who questioned the young prospect's dedication and seriousness. He had been kicked out of the Marines for disciplinary reasons, and was allegedly heard telling a fellow trainee that he really didn't like wrestling - he was just in it for the money.

All of this turned out to be false flagging, as Orton would complete his training and become part of WWE's vaunted 'Class of 2002', which included the likes of himself, John Cena, Brock Lesnar and Dave Batista.

From there, Randy Orton 'evolved' and became one of the biggest players in The Game.

Hand-picked to be part of Triple H's Horseman-style faction, Evolution, Orton's career would soar from there. After winning his first world title and being kicked out of the organization, he would spread his wings and soar on his own.

And aside from a few odd tag teams and running his own stable for a while, that's what he's been: a lone wolf. He's marched to the beat of his own drum and it's led to an astonishing 14 world championships.

Aside from big matches and title wins, Randy Orton will always be associated with the three most dangerous letters in wrestling.

@fromNYwithluv That was an RKO straight outta nowhere 😂😂

The RKO, a modified Diamond Cutter/Ace Crusher, has become as much one of Orton's calling cards as his signature pose in the ring corner. It's become legendary in and of itself in many ways that Orton has been able to hit it from literally any position and at any time. This has provided some of the quickest and most stunning victories of the last 20 years.

The move is also near and dear to Orton's heart as not only does the maneuver's moniker just sound cool, it also represents the Apex Predator's three initials (for: Randal Keith Orton).

And when he hits it? People lose their minds. For a wrestler without a flashy arsenal, this is Orton's one big firework that he shoots off at the end of the night.

However, due to maturity issues and out-of-the-ring activities, Randy Orton hasn't always garnered the ackowledgement of a legend.

Wrasslin': Randy Orton Teases Fan "Latino Ms. Piggy" Tweet #WWE #RandyOrton #Viper #wrestling

Orton brought a lot of criticism on himself for his treatment of fans. Some, he would poke fun at on social media (see above) or show them disdain when entering or leaving the arena. It was common knowledge that Orton did not want to be bothered. As his stardom grew, his accessibility became less and less, and he didn't make any apologies for that.

Adding more fuel to the fire was his penchant for playing sick locker room jokes on his co-workers. Compound that with stories that he was already known for playing politics backstage, making this a dark time regarding his overall image.

That all seems to have changed now, as Randy Orton has become an elder statesman for the promotion. While he's still precocious by nature, he seems to have settled down and fallen more into that veteran's role. Part leader, part teacher, and part mentor, all while being a full-time performer.

It may have taken longer than it should have, but Orton has clearly matured. The Apex Predator has achieved the revered status he so deserves because he grew up right alongside the audience who grew up watching him.

They say with age and experience comes knowledge and maturity. It seems as though in just the last few years, Randy Orton has come to understand that - just in time to cement one of the greatest legacies in the history of sports entertainment.

Where do you think Randy Orton will rank among WWE's all-time greats? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

A WWE legend feels like Vince McMahon can only blame himself for his situation. More details here

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Edited by Roxanne Smith
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