Randy Orton may be a little upset at the added burden of still appearing at Smackdown TV tapings while filming 12 Rounds: Reloaded. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Plans, no matter how long they are made in advance, are always subject to change in WWE. The latest example of this is the upcoming schedule of Randy Orton, who was expected to be taken off all WWE house shows and television shoots imminently, while he filmed the latest WWE movie to be undergoing production 12 Rounds: Reloaded. Indeed, ever since Orton returned from a 60 day suspension for his second Wellness policy violation, believed to have been due to testing positive for steroids, either Dianabol or synthetic testosterone, he's largely been treading water on TV due to the belief that he would be gone again in less than two months.
However, according to Dave Meltzer in his latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Orton is now advertised for all Smackdown TV tapings in September and October, while the film is being shot:
The Orton schedule has changed once again. Now he's back on house shows this coming weekend in Canada that he was originally off due to the movie. He is booked on Night of Champions. He's also booked for Raw in Montreal on 9/10. As things are now scheduled, he will be gone from after the 9/15 PPV until 10/28 (Hell in a Cell PPV) except he is now advertised on all the Tuesday Smackdown tapings. So it appears that during the movie shooting schedule, they will give him Tuesdays off and keep him on television.
Which begs the question, why did WWE, i.e. Vince McMahon, change their mind on this issue?
It could be a sign that WWE still does not have enough confidence for Sheamus, pushed as their top babyface on Smackdown but still in Orton's shadow, to carry the brand on his own and that Orton is needed on TV to keep Smackdown's ratings strong. Moreover, Orton is just starting to regain the momentum that he lost from being suspended over the summer, so I can fully understand the desire for him to maintain a TV presence, so he doesn't go back to square one again.
But maybe it's just because Vince McMahon puts a higher premium on his own booking flexibility than his performers' family lives and their road schedule. Being made to fly back and forth from Vancouver to wherever Smackdown is being taped must be no fun for someone who has already spent over a decade on the road and has a four year old daughter. They survived without Orton on WWE programming in June and July, why can't they do so again?