The June 11 Wrestling Observer Newsletter features a cover story on Randy Orton’s 60-day WWE suspension that discusses Orton’s rocky past and speculates on his future. Below are some notes and excerpts. For the full cover story, subscribe here:
–Orton has two strikes against him, but he is also still only 32 years-old, which makes him younger than most of WWE’s top stars and even includes the recently hyped Sheamus, who is already 34.
–Randy’s contract reportedly runs through 2020 but WWE could cut ties with him at anytime if they choose to do so.
–Vince McMahon has gone back and forth on Orton. He doesn’t want to lose Orton because of his drawing power and popularity with the fans, but some people are starting to think it would be better to cut ties. Orton will likely not go anywhere, though, at least right now, especially because of WWE’s depth issues.
–The Observer reports, “In the case of Orton, 32, it has been reported by Super Luchas and a number of other sources that Orton failed tests for both marijuana and the steroid Dianabol. Marijuana is a $2,500 fine, and a number of top stars view the fine as their pot tax. WWE increased the fine as a deterrent. Lower card wrestlers have been punished with more frequent losses and dropped pushes if they regularly tested positive for it, but main eventers have been pretty much left alone to pay their fines with no repercussions.” The Observer is skpetical of the Dianabol claim, however, because it’s a steroid that is from another era and not used frequently anymore.
–The Observer learned that WWE did go as far as to cut a new SmackDown intro video package without Orton in it, but it may never actually air. Also of note is that due to all of the roster depth issues, wrestlers from Raw were used in the reshot package. Says the Observer: “I believe it won’t be on the show that airs on 6/8, and was told it may never air, but internally they are saying losing Orton for a while isn’t going to be that big a problem and it’s the first time people are openly categorizing Punk as No. 2 as opposed to Punk and Orton being on the same level right behind Cena. In addition, the feeling is the face side on Smackdown will be fine with Sheamus, Christian and the returning Mysterio as well as Sin Cara, and if there’s a problem, they know they can turn Daniel Bryan whenever they want.”
–A key reason Randy Orton will likely stay with WWE for years to come is: “While Orton brings differing responses from fans, among the wrestlers, he is almost universally regarded as one of the best performers in the company, and some would say the best all-around.”
–Orton’s contract may run through 2020, but like most contracts, most of his money comes from his future production / status on the shows, and PPV/merchandise percentages. Also, the only two young established stars who plan on sticking around for a long time right now are Sheamus (34) and Daniel Bryan. Cena will also stay forever, but everyone else is either over 40 or doesn’t want to wrestle beyond a certain age. On Daniel Bryan, the Observer states, “Bryan is probably going to wind up having a long run as a star, but is still the antithesis of what Vince McMahon has educated the people for the last generation of what is a headliner.”
–Lastly, if Orton is cut, TNA will definitely come calling, so that’s another reason they may keep Randy on board, two strikes and all.
There is a whole lot more in this Observer cover story. For the full June 11 Observer Newsletter, subscribe here.