DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 08: World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton during the WWE Smackdown Live Tour at Westridge Park Tennis Stadium on July 08, 2011 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
It looks like that match at No Way Out pitting Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho was cursed from the word "go." First, Jericho was suspended for 30 days for denigrating a Brazilian flag and now Orton has been suspended for 60 days for a Wellness Policy violation.
STAMFORD, Conn. - In accordance with its Talent Wellness Program, WWE has suspended Randy Orton for 60 days effective today for his second violation of the company's policy.
Orton was first suspended back in April 2006 for what was originally reported as "unprofessional conduct." Various reports floated around that "The Viper" had heat backstage and his behavior led to a suspension. Orton, however, later said he was caught backstage smoking marijuana and that's what led to his exile.
No word just yet on what exactly caused this suspension but we'll pass it along when more details become available.
As stated previously, WWE was working towards an Orton vs. Jericho feud for No Way Out before both superstars were suspended. It initially appeared as though Dolph Ziggler might step in for Jericho after a segment on Raw this past Monday but that's obviously not going to happen.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, Cagesiders, so stay tuned for more details.
Clarification by Keith Harris: Randy Orton's first suspension by WWE was not considered to be a Wellness policy violation, because smoking pot is only considered to be a finable offense, but due to the public nature of the incident WWE felt compelled to punish him much more harshly.
His first Wellness policy suspension, which wasn't publicly announced, was in August 2006 for failing a drug test for a steroid that he didn't have a prescription for and he worked without pay for 30 days. Orton was also named in the Signature Pharmacy scandal in early September 2007 as receiving packages of Somatropin, Nandrolone and Stanazolol from the Internet drug company between September 2004 and February 2007, but wasn't suspended by WWE, officially for reasons of "double jeopardy." Others have suggested that he avoided punishment at the time because he was already booked to face John Cena in the main event of that month's Unforgiven pay-per-view.
For more context on Orton's drug and disciplinary problems, please read my review of his DVD I wrote last year. The most relevant part of the review is included for your convenience after the jump.
The discussion of Randy's behavioural problems is aided by a lot of previously unseen or unhighlighted footage of Randy playing the fool and being a jerk around WWE cameras. Hunter claims that Randy was always respectful around him, but heard all the stories about his temper and tried to mentor him, constantly telling him he's the only guy who could f*** his own career up and wouldn't take his excuses of being "young and stupid" for his bad behaviour. Randy confides that these problems were exacerbated by a very serious drug addiction:
"All life was for me for a couple of years was like you know how I was going to get f***ed up. It was pretty dark and gloomy and sad."
He also explained how he used to downplay his recreational drug usage to Samantha and con her into believing it wasn't that serious of a problem, but eventually he overdosed on sleeping medication at home and it was only the quick intervention of his girlfriend at the time that saved his life. Whether that was an accidental or intentional OD remains sketchy; Orton claims it was accidental, yet also claims that he hated himself so much during this period that he "was gonna kill" himself.
Randy claims that he was suspended for 60 days over his OD, but that's untrue. His sixty day suspension after WrestleMania 22 for "unprofessional conduct", where he was originally scheduled to win the World Heavyweight title again from fellow addict Kurt Angle, was due to him flagrantly smoking marijuana backstage at a time when they had just instituted their WWE Wellness policy. It was during this suspension that the OD is believed to have occurred, but at the time Randy denied the rumours that this had happened to everyone, including WWE management, and he wasn't further punished over the incident.
Randy did talk about stumbling onto buses ten minutes late for a European tour while Hunter shook his head at him, but neglected to mention that he was sent home on April 18, 2007, from this tour for trashing a hotel room in Germany and causing many thousands of dollars worth of damage. Orton was brought back less than two weeks later for the Backlash PPV, which was a controversial decision at the time.
Randy credits the dedication of his wife, who stuck with him through thick and thin, and the birth of his daughter to him being able to turn his life around for the better. He claims that he's been clean for the last few years and has even got a tattoo on his elbow of a biblical passage about being sober and vigilant. Of course, as the tragic death of Eddie Guerrero proved, the wrestling industry's definition of clean and sober is slightly different than the dictionary version. Here's to hoping that Randy can stay on track, despite the grind of the road and his nagging shoulder and neck problems which will never go away. The input of Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase and Sheamus bodes well for the future, as they all put him over as an excellent locker room leader who won't mince words in giving an honest critique of their performances to help them all improve.