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By Luke Dorsch @Luke_Dorsch
Assuming you live under a rock let me set this up proper; the current and 13 time WWE Champion 3rd generation wrestler Randal Keith Orton must have been watching the Ring of Honor/New Japan War of the Worlds PPV Friday night while in Europe and decided to take his opinions to the twitter machine.
“Sorry to the Indy marks, Indy guys and old timers who do DIVES took offense…just having a good time over a few drinks in Denmark closing the Smackdown Live tour…while beating RAW in making over 5 million dollars in the last 11 shows. Now I know to some that doesn’t equate to a standing room only crowd of 150 people paying $8 at an armoury somewhere….but in the big boy world that’s called putting asses in seats. Enjoy your flips, dives, and 20 superkicks per match. To each their own. I will go “dive” my way into my 13th title run and get ready to “flip” when my bank statement comes this month………headlock”
So, with an attempt of being objective I’m going to try to break this all down.
As with most things in Professional Wrestling if any kind of buzz is generated us fans clamour immediately to find out what’s going on, and the reaction has been pretty much about 50/50. There are those of us who love WWE and everything they do, their big budget scenery at the shows, the TV product, the music, the lights, the atmosphere….everything. Then, there are those of us who appreciate PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING as opposed to Vince McMahon’s “sports entertainment” philosophy and we don’t really need all the dressing and pretty stuff to enjoy the product. A little history:
Randy Orton after deserting the United States Marine Corps and serving his time for being a deserter decided to follow in the footsteps of his father Ace “Cowboy” Bob Orton and his grandfather alike Bob Orton, Sr. and become a wrestler. Just being the child of a former WWE Superstar means you’ve already got a foothold in the industry that someone like a …AJ Styles or a Kevin Owens or even a Seth Rollins just didn’t have. So, if you are PRIVLIDGED enough to be from a wrestling family as acclaimed as the Orton’s you kind of know you’re going to be fast tracked. Randy got his start not in the independent world of PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING but the former WWE developmental system OVW (Ohio Valley Wrestling) which was being run by the great Jim Cornette in order to “groom” the next generation of WWE Superstars. I’ve seen the footage, Randy took to wrestling like a fish does to water, where guys like John Cena, and Dave Batista may have had to work a lot harder to learn the fundamentals. So, anyone could see that young Randy was going to make some serious waves when he would eventually come to WWE. It didn’t take long either. Having natural athletic ability and having knowledge of the fundamentals Orton soon became the youngest ever WWE Champion at 24 years old defeating the late great Chris Benoit at Summer Slam in 2004. Though Randy would have his “issues” backstage w/ sobriety and attitude problems with his colleagues he’s been a main event player in WWE for 13 years. That is a tremendous feat in of itself, the only person comparable would have to be John Cena as it is difficult to stay “relevant” and healthy in pro wrestling/sports entertainment for that lengthy period of time. Now, long-time fans will know that Randy hit his high point at around 2010, and ever since he’s wrestled much more conservatively looking to maintain an even more impressive lengthy run in WWE, and that’s fine; he is a husband and father and has his family to look after.
But what if you’re not the son of a WWE Hall of Famer? What do you do to get to the “big show”? The answer isn’t complicated at all. You do whatever you have to do to get noticed. What can set ME apart from that guy or that girl? What can I do so that someone in Stamford will even know I’m alive? Well, the life an independent wrestler may not always be glamourous. We all have heard or read about the stories where guys or girls are essentially living in their vehicles to make a show 600 miles away just for a couple hundred bucks that goes right into the gas tank, to pay some debts and to eat. But, these people are living their dreams….and it may not need to be glamorous. If you’re one of the individuals who work a show at an armoury and the money isn’t good, you’re going to have to do something to get yourself booked for more shows. Or, what if you don’t stand at 6’5” and weigh in at 220lbs. what if you’re built like a Jack Evans or a John Silver? Then your path to WWE may never happen at all. I was fortunate enough to be very close friends w/ an independent wrestler who worked for WCW, ECW, and a little WWE and his life was far from glamorous. He would have to do death matches all over the U.S. and Japan and Puerto Rico just to make money, and during that time period health insurance for an independent wrestler was 100% non- existent. He would do the death matches because they pay more. But, he was living his dream, and at the end of the day to a large portion of us, that’s what matters.
But, you don’t always have to do insane risk taking manoeuvres to get noticed or to get over, but you have to do something. You need to find your niche’ whatever it is. Let’s look at Kevin Steen; He’s gone on record saying that it was always his dream to work for WWE and certainly it didn’t happen overnight. Looking at the Kevin Steen of 2005, this was a guy who was doing 450’s and somersault leg drops off the top rope, he has hundreds of moves in his repertoire’ but, it was when he started building a character that resonated with the fans of Ring of Honor that I think his career started taking off. Steen has also gone on record stating that it was his Battle of Los Angeles match w/ behind the scenes WWE booker and wrestling legend Fit Finlay that led William Regal to offer him a try out at WWE’s newer developmental system…NXT. The BOLA match w/ Finlay isn’t one of those crazy PWG matches, it was a regular match. Steen showed he could hang using the fundamentals of professional wrestling to tell a story with a guy like Finlay. He impressed the right people at the right time.
But what about Ricochet and Will Osprey and performers like that? These wrestlers have a specific style that works for them, they do what they do and we either love it or we don’t. I can tell you first hand that the right high spot at the right time is just magic….on the flipside generating heat w/ the crowd doing nothing but talking smack to the fans, officials, opponents, or whomever that is also magic. So, why did watching Osprey and Jay White, and the Young Bucks on Friday spark Orton to make his feelings public? Of course, we all can only speculate as to why he felt he needed to make his feelings public, but I do know that Randy Orton hasn’t been discussed as having a “good” match in years. Will Osprey was a finalist at PWG’s biggest annual event last year, he won the New Japan Best of the Super Juniors last year as well, in addition to the ROH Television Title. He didn’t get that kind of recognition from those kind of promotions based on “flippy shit”. Osprey is good wrestler who does what works for him. Perhaps it was a little bit of professional jealousy that made Orton make those remarks. We don’t know.
The backlash (no pun intended) from Randy Orton’s remarks have been a big thing in our little world this week, prompting responses from a plethora of past and present wrestlers….even CM Punk thru his two cents into the debate….that’s not even a debate. If you don’t have someone writing down what you’re supposed to do and say out there every week, and you are working shows at an armoury, the end goal is getting over, getting noticed, and getting paid to the best of your ability. For some people, just having the right genes and last name can get you into the WWE Hall of Fame where guys w/ more talent and ability may never even make it to a RAW dark match.