Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Why did Orton lose the title so soon in 2004?

Hi Scott,

Michael Xavier here. I've been off-blog because of the current product and am watching PPVs during the Reign of Terror that I missed because that was the last time I wasn't interested in the product. Plus, it was just referenced in the Max Landis short movie (by the way, congrats on the mention!)

Anyway, Orton beat Benoit for the RAW belt at SummerSlam 2004. It went on last, Orton won clean, and Benoit even did the "handshake of respect" to completely put him over. It was essentially portrayed as a career-making performance. The next night he got kicked out of Evolution and then lost the belt at the next PPV to Hunter. He was basically Hunter's bitch in rematches and Batista was later pushed into the RAW championship spot instead. Orton didn't get another run with a top title until he won the WWE title in October 2007, more than 3 years later.

What was the point of putting Orton over so strongly at SummerSlam only to have him lose the belt so suddenly? I'd get it if ratings and house shows tanked, but he was already being set up to lose it to Hunter the very next night, and then was essentially out of serious consideration of being champion for 3 years.

Anyway, any knowledge on this?

​The explanation I've always heard is that Hunter felt like they needed a heel champion for whatever the voting PPV was that year (Taboo Tuesday or Cyber Sunday, I forget) because fans wouldn't want to vote between three heels and the choices were stronger on the babyface side anyway.  Plus Orton was really a spectacular flop as champion, like really badly, so it worked out OK anyway.  ​

76 comments:

  1. I had to watch that Landis video three times before I found CM Punk.

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  2. The problem I had with Orton is he never seemed ready for the role they have him. I finally accepted him a heel upper card guy and suddenly he's the top face. Who was actively looking to cheer Randy Orton in 2004?

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  3. Extant1979 - Extreme SuperstarMarch 18, 2015 at 6:55 AM

    Putting the belt back on Triple H in the fall of 2004 was the right way to go. Orton wasn't ready to be World Heavyweight Champion and Triple H having the title led to a bunch of fun programs from Taboo Tuesday right through to the Batista title win at WrestleMania 21.

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  4. Charismatic eNegro Jef VinsonMarch 18, 2015 at 6:55 AM

    "​The explanation I've always heard is that Hunter felt like they needed a heel champion for whatever the voting PPV was that year"


    But wasn't Orton a heel?

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  5. HHH always comes up with unique reasons on why he should win matches. It's UNCANNY!

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  6. How can you be a spectacular flop as champion when your title reign lasts for 28 days? They wouldn't have even gotten a proper Summerslam buyrate number before HHH was already champ again.

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  7. The problem why Randy never sniffed the main event after losing was because of 2 wellness violations and a key injury which caused him to stop being on the gas.

    By the time 07 came back around, he became the size we currently know.

    He was a big risk in the early days because he thought it was a party still... being raised in the biz by Orton, who was apart of the Piper/Orton/Adonis/Valentine clique. He was a wild boy.

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  8. Good egg, that Michael Xavier.

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  9. Scott overstating things.


    (pure speculation)
    Orton was the first pet project of the OVW boys and had he gotten the strap/rub properly. No Batista, so HHH killed his heat immediately and let wellness do the rest. I feel Vince would have strapped all the rockets to Orton and pushed him the same vein as Cena, just a year earlier.

    (/pure speculation)


    Plus Orton only got the belt to wipe Brock from history as being the youngest champion ever.

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  10. He turned face the night after SummerSlam

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  11. I'm with Mr. Snrub. How you can call Orton a "spectacular flop?"

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  12. That's what I was thinking. He was cheered loudly when he won the title (okay, Bizarro-Land but whatever) but there was a groundswell of support for him. There were "Randy, Randy" chants at his matches even though he was a heel.

    Then on RAW he was turned on. Then he disappeared for a week (WTF?) and showed up on RAW where he did something to Evolution (can't remember exactly) and took off in the crowd with the title where he was cheered again. He was getting over as a babyface but then the fucking King of Kings killed his heat like he's apt to do.

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  13. Just caught that "Michael Xavier" was Magneto's fake name when he was in charge of the X-Men after UXM 200.

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  14. He should have turned on Evolution, not Evolution turn on him. Made him
    look weak. And also not really a face.

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  15. How the hell would we know if he was ready?! He had the title for a month and HHH was still the focus of the show!

    I hate Randy Orton but the guy barely got a shot his first time around.

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  16. Even the trolling hogan thing he does is hillarious. Everyone takes it seriously.

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  17. Exactly. If HHH told him to hand over the title and then Orton snapped off a quick RKO, the crowd would have gone crazy for him.

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  18. It would've made more sense if Evolution turned on HHH since Orton did in one match what HHH had been trying to do all summer, get the belt off Benoit. HHH was so desperate, he enlisted the help of a retard.

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  19. That was my thinking as well. As soon as he got the belt he got made to look like Evolution's bitch and then they had him jumping out of birthday cakes.

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  20. Extant1979 - Extreme SuperstarMarch 18, 2015 at 7:14 AM

    He was ridiculously awkward around this time, and he certainly didn't scream main eventer like he did a couple of years later. Of course, this might have been because he was just better as a heel and couldn't convey success as a babyface,


    Once he turned heel again and had the angle with Undertaker, I think people started to take him more seriously higher up on the card.

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  21. I agree, I thought back then Orton should've stayed heel and took over Evolution and had HHH chase him to get the belt back.

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  22. Charismatic eNegro Jef VinsonMarch 18, 2015 at 7:17 AM

    He was face but still part of Evolution?

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  23. Nobody could have gotten over in that situation. Randy was a killer heel and he gets turned on by even badder badasses.


    Then when he vows revenge...he loses. He gets revenge on Ric Flair in a cage at Taboo Tuesday while HHH has yet another circlejerk with Shawn. HHH finally returns the favor at Survivor Series but then has to end the feud for good by finishing off Randy at the Rumble.


    Now things turned out just fine for all concerned and Randy's bump in the road opened the door for Batista to make his way to the main event so no one really cares especially a decade plus later but the fact is HHH sabotaged the kid just as blatantly as any of his other conquests over the years.

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  24. I was about to ask what was so bad about his reign (I wasn't really watching the product at the time).

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  25. Well, "turned face" is being generous considering the dumbass way they went about it.

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  26. I think alot of people was mad that he beat Benoit at the time but he never really had a chance to run with the belt. He was a hot heel and should've stayed heel. Going face was what hurt him. If anything HHH should've went face and Orton should've took over Evolution kinda like how The Rock took over the Nation from Faarooq

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  27. Yeah, he was a pretty mediocre flop.

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  28. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jujvyveKLE

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  29. I don't buy that "Orton was a flop as champion" simply because he was already being set up to lose the title THE NIGHT AFTER HE WON IT. Ratings stayed consistent the entire month he was champion (3.4, 3.6, 3.5, 3.6). It wasn't like a Hogan April 2002 thing where ratings immediately dropped (sorry, Michael Xavier).

    If the explanation is "power play by Triple H", I buy it. I don't really think an argument can be made that Orton was a flop though.

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  30. AverageJoeEverymanMarch 18, 2015 at 7:22 AM

    "I need to win this title match! It's Passover for gods sake!!!"

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  31. "Have you seen my nose? I have to be some percentage Jewish with a nose like this!"

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  32. Pretty sure a huge reason was it was a good opportunity to give Orton the youngest champion ever record previously held by Lesnar who bailed on them that same year just to clear it off the books.

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  33. This Kenola Gets It.

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  34. Who had the bigger maiden title reign flop, Orton or Edge?

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  35. Then why not have Triple H beat Benoit for the belt at SummerSlam instead of facing Eugene of all people? And why have Orton win over Benoit so cleanly and so decisively? It was definitely portrayed as a career-making performance, as Michael Xavier said.

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  36. Then what was the point of putting the title on him in the first place?

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  37. As if Lesnar gives a shit over something like that.

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  38. God, am I the *only* person here who uses his real name as his username?

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  39. Extant1979 - Extreme SuperstarMarch 18, 2015 at 7:27 AM

    I don't know. I remember thinking it was a stupid move at the time, too.

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  40. Dude this is WWE. You know they do petty bullshit like this all the time. THEY care even if Lesnar didn't.

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  41. Oh, I know. But it's hilarious to think that they were trying to stick it to Lesnar when the guy could care less. Vince might be the most successful wrestling promoter, but he's also the pettiest. And that's saying something.

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  42. This is the same thing I thought. There was always some thin reason that benefited him.
    "Why not have Stephanie join Angle, creating the hottest feud in the company and making you an uber-face?"
    "Uh..my character's too smart for that." What?

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  43. Yeah, if Orton wasn't ready or whatever, just have Benoit lose it to Triple H and have Orton win #1 contender or something, and have Orton turn on Triple H because Triple H demands him to forgo his title shot. Or better yet, not have Orton turn face at all.

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  44. Ridiculously awkward =


    ****1/4 6 man tag match at Wrestlemania XX
    **** match with Mick Foley at Backlash 2004
    ***1/2 match with Shelton Benjamin at Bad Blood 2004
    *** match with Edge at Vengeance 2004
    ***1/2 match with Chris Benoit at Summerslam 2004


    Yeah, what a bum.

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  45. Threadjack; it's been a fascinating journey from Chris Benoit to Chris Borland.

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  46. It's so they didn't ever have to mention him on air ever again. I mean hell there's kids who don't know how freakin awesome Kurt Angle was because of this petty grudge they hold against certain people.

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  47. Actually, he couldn't have cared less. If he could care less, that would mean that he would have had to have cared at least a little bit, in order to be able to care less than he already cared.

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  48. Extant1979 - Extreme SuperstarMarch 18, 2015 at 7:35 AM

    Thank you for sharing someone else's workrate opinions to counter my opinions. Yes, he was having good matches with other good hands, but that doesn't mean you're ready to be the face of the promotion and champion on Raw. Shit, Shelton Benjamin was having great matches with people throughout 2004, I don't see anyone saying HE should have been champion.

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  49. Adam "Colorado" CurryMarch 18, 2015 at 7:36 AM

    Nope.

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  50. It wasn't his time. If anything, it was good for the long-term story that Randy Orton was too wet-behind-the-ears to recognize what Triple H was going to do to him...it was an integral part of his own evolution.

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  51. Your real name is Colorado?

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  52. Adam "Colorado" CurryMarch 18, 2015 at 7:38 AM

    Yep.

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  53. Nice explanation.

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  54. Jef uses his real name I believe.

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  55. Orton. The face turn was awful and made him look like a chump. Orton should have gotten Evolution to turn on HHH and turn him face. Bring in Shelton Benjamin for Evolution. HHH reunites with Shawn for a DX/Evolution fued. Orton's character in those days was all about being a heel. His turn was underwhelming because he got kicked out and turned into HHH's bitch when he should have kept dominating. Orton's IC title run was actually pretty great.

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  56. So wait,he was ridiculously awkward having good matches?


    I don't see anyone saying he should have been the true face of the company at 24 years old, but should he have been bulldozed by HHH a month after his coronation because Trips wanted his title back pronto?


    The main event push was sudden, probably too sudden for a guy who was IC Champion a month before Summerslam but Orton had main eventer written all over him that year.

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  57. Extant1979 - Extreme SuperstarMarch 18, 2015 at 7:51 AM

    He had FUTURE main eventer written all over him. Just because you're good in the ring doesn't mean you're ready for the top of the card. The main event push shouldn't have happened at SummerSlam 2004.


    There were other options to eventually get the belt back on Hunter than sacrificing Orton.

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  58. Agreed. I also remember him having some legitimate face momentum after losing the title, including lots of "RKO" chants. I dunno what happened to his momentum at the end of the year (I remember him going over quite a bit), but Batista ended up getting even more over and by the Rumble the writing was on the wall for Orton.


    I wasn't a big Orton fan at the time, and thought they rushed his ascension, but I never understood what the goal was, other than Vince wanting a new youngest champion, or HHH trying to set up his usual chase program that made RAW so miserable between 2002-2005 (except for the great wrestling in the summer of 2004).

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  59. Agreed, though Edge's deserves a bit of malice. To this day, has his first title win done anything other than validate the Money in the Bank gimmick?

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  60. Yeah, pretty pointless overall. I just don't see how you can call a guy who was only meant to be a transitional champion as a "flop."

    It's like setting someone up for failure. Of course, WWE has done that quite a bit over the years.

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  61. He was turned face in one of the most non-organic turns ever. Not only was the crowd not buying it, but it also seemed like the outcome was correctly predicated from the moment the turn happened.

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  62. Yeah, in many ways it was an early indicator of the kind of short-sighted booking that has come to haunt the company since. Orton spent the next 2 1/2 years looking like a dork before becoming a main eventer again. And, honestly, in spite of him being a 32 time champion, or whatever, I have never really seen anything more than upper midcarder in him. Everything he does is just decent, and every time he gets pushed a main eventer it just sinks the program.

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  63. The Orton thing is just one of those situations where they tried something and it didn't work, but their heart was in the right place.


    HHH wasn't trying to sabotage him, the plan was to screw him out of the title, saddle him with the "no more title shots" stip, have him run through Flair and Batista, and then win the Rumble in order to get around the stip. Beats HHH at Mania and he's The Man. Sounds good in theory, didn't work (Orton and the office share blame here). Shit happens, and their audible is one the best storylines of all-time.

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  64. Edge's at least put that character over as the "ultimate opportunist." I'd say Punk's first reign was far worse. A face using a cheap way to win a belt and then going on midcard made him look like such a geek.

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  65. Charismatic eNegro Jef VinsonMarch 18, 2015 at 8:21 AM

    I will say this: HHH did a lot to protect Benoit because I don't remember him getting too many wins on him in that feud.

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  66. And that's just b/c they keep putting him in top spots so we generally just accept him there. I've always found him totally boring and easily replaceable. He has very few memorable matches and just doesn't stand out.

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  67. Charismatic eNegro Jef VinsonMarch 18, 2015 at 8:22 AM

    Passover? HHH is the last person to talk about getting passed over.

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  68. I agree, Punk's first reign made him look like a total geek after such a strong stint in ECWWE. For the Orton/Edge comparison, however, I'm still going with Orton.

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  69. It's worth noting that of Orton's 12 world title reigns, only 2 of them were over 90 days. In fact, he's been world champion for a cumulative 748 days... meaning on average his title reigns have been 63 days.

    No wonder his reigns don't feel "important". They've mostly been 1-3 months long!

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  70. Orton suddenly turned into the most babiest babyface ever and lost the reason that fans started to cheer him in the first place.

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  71. I won't say things didn't turn out for the best (The Batista/HHH build was killer and Orton was much more ready for the Main event in his 07 and 09 incarnations) but I was watching at the time and it seemed the most logical thing in the world for Orton to take over Evolution and kick HHH out.

    HHH seemed to badly need a Face Turn at this point which amazingly took another year and a half.

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  72. Orton's run derailed his whole character Edge's run with the belt was nothing special but it helped DEFINE what he was all about. The way he won, the live sex celebration and afterwards when Cena ran in and FU'd Lita while Edge ran away with the belt in his underwear was just classic Edge through and through.

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