Written under duress by Critical Bill (@williamrenken83)
It was the perfect storm of events. Sometime around mid afternoon on Monday, a series of vines started circulating Twitter, retweeted and favorited in droves. Very familiar “fail” videos; poor unsuspecting yokels in everyday life that take the worst kind of tumbles that bring out the darkest comedic reaction from all of us.
One, for example, the grape stomping lady. How infamous she has been over the years. (“(cough), (cough), (cough) Oh I can’t breathe!”) But right as she’s about to take her tumble, a photoshopped Randy Orton appears and catches her tumble with juxtaposed RKO. If that wasn’t funny enough, we get the classic Randy Orton pose afterwards as the poor grape lady gasps her infamous aforementioned line.
Nearly a dozen of these appeared subsequently that each found new ways to make everyone laugh until hit hurt. Not since Botchamania became an IWC sensation has a video done the comedic damage that the RKO Vines did in this short amount of time on Monday heading into the beginning of Monday Night Raw.
As the show progressed, the RKO vines became a full blown digital epidemic that no Twitter feed could be immune from. And then during Raw, almost serendipitously, Orton appears in a match with Dolph Ziggler that was every bit of bust ass as it has been in the past. Only this time, in the spirt of the afternoon’s “out of nowhere” RKO vinefest, how fitting that the ending of the match saw an RKO come out of a power bomb lift to give Orton the win.
And I’m sorry, as much as people want to take a giant shit on Randy Orton, Atlanta fucking popped for him beginning to end, which fit perfectly with his burgeoning feud with Seth Rollins that is beginning to slow burn a face turn for Orton.
If that still wasn’t enough, Orton came out again later while Rollins was wrestling Jack Swagger and just to build a little more tension, gives him an RKO right in front of Rollins that he promptly follows with (I “Vince Russo” swear to god” a look right out of Dave Chappelle’s Prince impression. (“Game blouses.”) Bam, Orton killed Atlanta again.
It all came together so perfectly. And then for one glorious night and into the day after, Randy Orton was, well, likable. And I hate saying that because I’ve always been in the Orton camp. I would argue that he might easily be in the elite status of in-ring workers in WWE. Yeah, we know his promo and charisma are on par with Quaalude, but as an athlete in the ring, he’s nearly untouchable. But god damn, can he piss off wrestling fans.
Throughout the years, Orton routinely has been the butt of hundreds of snarky internet jokes. And for god’s sake, don’t put him in a match with John Cena because everyone seems on the verge of riot. That’s one thing I will admit I haven’t been too fond of either. (Funny enough, we get it again at Hell in a Cell in, well, the Hell in a Cell.)
Pick your reason. His lack of charisma, his rumored burying of talent backstage, his flippant attitude overall or just the fact that he takes his talent for granted and doesn’t over perform with it; all have been reasons why fans to this day won’t give Orton the time of day anymore.
But let’s be objective here for a moment. As a heel, Orton works like a mother fucker. He can be the smarmy coward, the hubris-filled “face of the Authority,” or just the Legend Killer. People love to boo Orton. He’s a born heel.
As a face, it’s been shaky territory. Even Orton seems uncomfortable being a face in peril. It doesn’t fit the guy who came from Evolution. But there is a Randy Orton as a face that has worked and it was really around this time back in 2009 with his feud with Cena at a point of ellipses and Legacy nearing its end, Orton started to get a rumbling face pop that coincided with him taking a “Stone Cold” approach to his work, which often became the comparision. He’d drop an RKO out of nowhere (ala the Stunner) and even pose with the two fisted arms over his head at the corners. People started to buy into an anti-hero Orton that fed well into the Royal Rumble and into his Legacy breakup match at WrestleMania.
The events of this past Monday in Atlanta have this same tone, which could be grasping at air to make a comparison to some, but it felt like a jumping off point to what could be a hell of a WrestleMania 31 match with Seth Rollins. A formal split seems all but imminent and the set up has been that Rollins is the future of WWE while Orton counters that the future is still a ways away.
Just think about what WWE could do with a build like this. Randy Orton came up through the company as the Legend Killer, and delivered countless rewind moments with RKOs to some of the greatest of all time. But now with the gray showing in his stubble, he is no longer that Legend Killer he once was. He’s, for all intents and purposes, a legend himself; a legend to be killed by the future of WWE, Seth Rollins?
Have Orton go over at Mania, but have Rollins get his cash-in for the WWE Title either that night or the night after and keep his feud with Orton going as his first legit title defense. What better way to build up Rollins as a credible WWE Champion than to have a five-star series with a made guy like Randy Orton?
Oh well…If nothing else, those vines will never lose their luster. If nothing else, Randy Orton got a little reprieve from the WWE Universe’s doghouse that he’s been more than welcomed in over the years. Thank god for Social Media.