After slating The Rock (and Kelly and Mark Henry and Megan Fox...well, a whole bunch of other people) in a deeply controversial interview last month, Orton has seemingly mellowed and is being less harsh about 'The Great One.' In the interview with 98KUPD, Orton had criticised the Rock was being a primma-donna and going to management to complain about Orton's criticisms of him in the past instead of, in Orton's mind, being a man about it and talking to Orton face-to face. Unlike, most current WWE superstars, who praise Johnson non-stop, Orton was incredibly scathing about The Rock (only poor Kelly Kelly got trashed more.) But, rest assured, WWE brass, Orton has now done a dramatic U-turn, towed the company line and is now praising his former backstage foe. In this interview, with Extreme Pro Wrestling Radio, Orton heaped lavish praise on Rock, when asked about Johnsons's upcoming match with John Cena at Wrestlemania :
"You know, that's a tough question for me to answer. I've answered it already a few times. Here's the thing, I could be selfish and say that I feel it takes away from me, but you have to give credit where credit is due, and I will very humbly say that Cena, watching him come up and get better and better and just how smart he is in outside the business, the business side, he knows what he's doing out there. Rock? You know, he went and did the acting thing. I could see how one of our fans would be upset with him for coming back after all this time and saying, 'I promise I won't leave, I'm here for good, I'm here to stay.'
"The day after WrestleMania, this match, Cena vs. Rock, is made. And you thinking, man, is he going to be around to promote this match. Here's the thing, Rock is so big time and that many more people are going to watch our show because of it. And for that, no matter how I feel about whether or not Rock is here, there, or wherever, I got paid for this past WrestleMania and I was happy with my payday. And I know that that number on that paycheck reflected him being present that day. If anything, Dwayne, if you're listening, thank you. And I think everyone on the card owes him a thank you, because helped people watch our show. He helped ticket sales, plain and simple. He's The Rock. Whether you love him or hate him, he's entertaining.
"I guess in Australia, John Cena, I saw some stuff on the net where post-show for a live event, he said some disparaging things about Rock. And Rock gave his rebuttal... It was Rock himself doing a flip-camera video, and he cut a 12-minute promo on Cena. And after the promo, I was like, 'Man, I never really thought about it like that before.' It was pretty good. I had my wife come listen to it. Rock is awesome. I've said things before about his verbiage and writers helping come up with it.
"Here's the thing, he's as entertaining as it gets. The electricity that whole thing, you do feel it in the air. When you're backstage, when I first started, he's doing a live promo to the house and TV live at the same time, backstage I'd be peeking around the corner and watching him do his thing and hoping that one day that I could amount to an eighth of that energy. He's better than anybody else out there when it comes to that, but John Cena is my boy. I respect what he's done for this business and how hard he works for this business, so I will always have his back."
So, did Orton just have an epiphany? Eh, probably not. After his candid interview last month, Dave Meltzer noted in the July 18th Observer that Orton had gotten a huge amount of heat for his remarks, and this likely instigated Orton's change in opinion:
There was a lot of heat from both wrestlers and management regarding Orton’s interview two weeks ago on the Tucson radio station. One person noted that a mid-card wrestler who said 25% of what he did would be going on a MVP/Carlito like career burial, but he was able to get away with it because he’s one of the big three golden boys.
While Orton's comments about Kelly were very mean, childish and inexcusable, I personally liked the rest of the interview: Orton was funny, candid and open. It was a welcome and refreshing change from most WWE interviews these days, with pre-approved and dull, tired answers getting churned out, and a no-nonsense P.R person watching over everything to make sure nothing "inappropriate" is asked. Shame no-one else in the locker room or in management saw it that way. An honest opinion...in WWE? Mr Orton, what were you thinking?!