WWE – Randy Orton: RKO Outta Nowhere (Cert 15)
3 Discs DVD / 2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 390 minutes approx.
I must confess I’m not a huge fan of the “WWE’s Apex Predator”, as regular readers of this site will probably have gathered by now. While he has been posited as the “Anti-Cena” due to the career parallels Randy Orton has also been disproportionately rewarded with numerous title reigns ad infinitum.
But as cynical as I am even I have to admit that “The Viper” has had an interesting journey in the WWE, coming in with the burden or blessing of being a third generation wrestler – his father is of course Cowboy Bob Orton Jr, his grandfather Bob Orton Sr -, going on to become the youngest ever World Heavyweight champion, and eventually carving out a niche as a cold blooded villain.
This latest retrospective collection only pays cursory attention to this in place of a full documentary recalling Orton’s WWE career, assuming this hasn’t been done already in a prior release. Similar to the recent Brock Lesnar release, the format sees Orton precede each bout, relaying his thoughts about either the match itself or his opponent, except Orton’s footage is recently recorded.
Similar to his on screen persona, Orton is softly spoken and deliberate with his words, although those of us with hearing difficulties haven’t been given the courtesy of subtitles so his whispered monologues will go unappreciated. In terms of content, while there is no kayfabe breaking, there is no shooting either but the lines are never blurred.
Instead Orton speaks with respect towards his peers and predecessors, the names of his favourite opponents will surprise you. Some of the usual suspects receive high praise but to be fair they were instrumental in Randy’s growth as a performer so while it seems like he is playing it safe politically, this is a rare occasion where the credit given is warranted.
The set opens with Orton in OVW, the original iteration of the promotion as a WWE developmental system under Jim Cornette’s instruction. The choice of matches to represent this period is odd to say the least – the first comes after Orton praise his chemistry with a local guy named Johnny Spade but we get what was supposed to be a handicap match against Mark Henry.
Henry refuses to wrestle so Orton and Spade face each other but after a minute of them doing basic stuff Henry hits the ring and lays them both out. We can only assume this was to illustrate just how green Orton was then, otherwise it seems counterproductive. Next is a match again The Prototype, who you know better as John Cena – yes they’ve been facing each other forever! Cena was the heel and the match was awful, ending with a run-in schmooze.
Our next unseen archive bout was a dark match from 2001 in which Orton faced Indie star Flash Flannagan before a half empty arena of disinterested fans. Randy shares an interesting anecdote about his first time in the Smackdown locker room a year later, saying he thought Billy Gunn was about 6’8 or 6’9; Gunn is a legit 6’5 which is Orton’s billed height.
This is followed by the WWE Title match against The Undertaker from SD in 2002, prior to which the heel Taker, in his Biker guise, cuts an uncharacteristic animated babyface promo before a Canadian crowd. The match is interesting not just by way of measuring Orton’s improvement but also by how much Taker – who never sells – gave the relative rookie here.
From here the collection is made up of mostly TV matches you may have forgotten, the odd major PPV match and one post RAW dark match from 2004 against his former mentor Triple H. Orton’s Evolution days are represented by a handful of matches that also incorporate his IC title run which was ended by Edge, who just a year later would be Orton’s Rated RKO tag partner.
There is a big jump to his feud with Cena that briefly diverted to take in title defences against Shawn Michaels and Jeff Hardy, in a match from the 2008 Royal Rumble Orton claims got the biggest reaction from the MSG faithful. It’s interesting to note that while Randy says he is keen to impart his acquired knowledge down to rookies as others did to him, the entire stint with Legacy is overlooked, and we jump straight to Orton vs. CM Punk from 2011.
Perhaps not too much surprise, Orton doesn’t enjoy ladder matches because he’s not into taking big bumps and feels they hamper the creativity he can apply to a straight up wrestling match. To that end he’d prefer the title unification match against Cena in 2013 wasn’t a TLC match but says it was one he is proud of (presumably he blocked out the negative chants from the fans).
Another interesting quip comes when Orton says he thought Dean Ambrose had a bad attitude when he first arrived on the main roster since Dean kept himself to himself – Orton even say that coming from him that is a bit rich, so I guess he has matured a bit. Let’s hope this means he doesn’t teach rookies how to dump in women’s bags or trash hotel rooms!
Closing this set is triple threat from RAW last year pitting Orton against Cesaro and Kevin Owens, two guys he speaks highly of, along with Seth Rollins, Ambrose and Finn Balor, his top pick for a dream match. Randy signs off by saying that titles don’t matter anymore, he just wants to be remembered for having the best match on the card.
I can’t say I have become a Randy Orton convert after viewing this set but I found his calm and honest reflections in the interviews a lot more palatable than before, and certainly is a less cheesy alternative to Cena. Fans of The Viper will lap this up while for others it is a solid collection of matches to own in HD.
WWE Bad Blood – June 13th 2004 – WWE IC Title Match – Randy Orton (c) vs. Shelton Benjamin
WWE Summerslam – August 14th 2011 – WWE World Heavyweight Title No Holds Barred Match – Christian (c) vs. Randy Orton
NXT – March 27th 2013 – Randy Orton vs. Damien Sandow
WWE Smackdown – June 14th 2013 – Randy Orton & Team Hell No vs. The Shield
Rating – ***
Man In Black