It appears the earlier scuttlebutt was true.
According to The Wrestling Observer, earlier tonight during a house show in the "Motor City," WWE announcer Tony Chimel informed the Detroit, MI audience that Randy Orton was injured and would be out for six months. He also let the crowd know that refunds would be available upon request.
If there was any doubt that this was part of a storyline, the refund offer pretty much plays Earthquake to the theory's Damien. In short, it squashes it.
This is a major blow to the WWE and also Smackdown. With an unproven draw like Daniel Bryan as the World Heavyweight Champion, I'm sure Vince McMahon and company were hedging their bets on Orton's star power to help keep ratings and house show attendance up. While some argue that this turn of events might be a boon for "The American Dragon," it could in fact end his title run sooner than previously planned.
During today's radio show, Dave Meltzer also opined that they could bring Raw talent over which was an idea several here at Cageside had as well. This could help Bryan's chances of holding onto the belt but the loss of Smackdown's biggest star for half a year is sure to have far reaching ramifications.
Of course, this still could -- and I emphasis could -- still be a work. The WWE could have agreed to take a short term financial hit on the house show circuit by planting a false injury story -- or rather, an embellished one -- in order to shock everyone on Jan. 29 when Orton shows up to a hometown Royal Rumble as a surprise entrant.
Having just typed that, it doesn't sound as crazy as previously thought. There still isn't an official word from WWE.com and even the most tapped in wrestling insiders have yet to pull the trigger on declaring this a storyline or not.
It would actually shows a lot of gumption and foresight on the part of the WWE and if this is indeed their plan, I have to say I wholeheartedly approve.
What do you think, Cagesiders?