I don't mean to alarm any of you, but at some point over the past two years or so, and maybe even less than that, Randy Orton seems to have become a pretty good guy.
Yes, that Randy Orton, the man whose reputation precedes him. This is man who spent many of his formative years walking around the locker room like his shit didn't stink. Speaking of shit, this is also a man who, allegedly, once dropped a deuce in a Divas handbag as a prank. Or possibly even worse.
This is also a man who reportedly got Mr. Kennedy (now working as Mr. Anderson in TNA) fired for nearly botching a spot during a match. That's without mentioning his countless other in-ring tirades directed at his opponents, such as the time he screamed at Kofi Kingston that he was stupid, apparently for messing up a finish that involved his needing to get set up for a punt but failing to do so, even after getting pushed down and prompted.
Really, the guy has been a dick. He himself has admitted to as much in WWE home video releases.
Now, though, he seems to have turned it around. For the past couple years, he's been doing programs to help put over new stars, like Cody Rhodes, or doing jobs to help establish old standbys, like Mark Henry. That awesome "Hall of Pain" heel run in late 2011 wouldn't have been the same without Orton jobbing clean multiple times on pay-per-view, dropping the heavyweight title to "The World's Strongest Man."
Most recently, he put Daniel Bryan over. And while he certainly didn't "make" Bryan, there's little doubting that Bryan forcing an established star like Orton, one of the most protected guys on the roster as far as booking is concerned, to tap in the middle of the ring was a big deal, and helped lead to his WWE championship match against John Cena later tonight (Aug. 18, 2013) at SummerSlam in Los Angeles.
Then, there are interviews that showcase his improved attitude, like the one he did with Sam Roberts recently where he comes off like a generally likable guy.
His response to Darren Young coming out also helps cultivate his new image.
"It's got to be a tremendous relief for the guy to get that off his chest. I didn't (know) and I'm close enough to him that if anyone else would have know... The locker room is like high school. One person finds something out, five minutes later everybody knows. Nobody knew. Pretty confident that nobody knew. I think it's cool that... he obviously didn't wake up this morning with the tension and stress of knowing he's doing this interview where he's going to drop this bomb on the world, like, it just came out, it rolled off the tip of his tongue. And I think the fact that it happened that way was just the best way possible for him to be able to get... I think, like, it was all meant to be, for him. And I'm happy for him. I think people make such a big deal about this stuff. It's preference, it's to each his own, let him do his thing, you know? He's not hurting anybody. It's okay to be gay, no big deal. Chill out, everybody."
To top it all off, his matches have been solid in the ring, and the crowds are responding to him like he's the number two or three guy on the entire WWE roster. This despite his noted lack of enthusiasm for playing a babyface.
He's soldiered on and done his job, though, and he's been doing it incredibly well. He may walk out of SummerSlam tonight the WWE champion and if that's the case, well, maybe that won't be so bad after all.