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WWE Randy Orton DVD Review - The Redemption Of A Viper?

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Randy Orton - a reformed character?  Via <a href=""></a>.
Randy Orton - a reformed character? Via

Earlier this month, WWE released what promises to be one of their biggest selling DVDs of the year, the first ever career retrospective DVD of WWE superstar Randy Orton, which they subtitled The Evolution Of A Predator.  The DVD seemed to have the potential of being one of the most compelling in WWE history, after Orton revealed in a frank radio interview that the title would cover his long hushed up drug overdose in 2006.  This was also the interview that landed him in hot water for insinuating that WWE Diva Kelly Kelly had slept with half the locker room.  So did the documentary part of the DVD live up to the hype?

Not really, though parts of it are definitely worth watching.  The DVD should have been subtitled The Redemption Of A Viper instead, as that was the angle they really pushed hard during the production.  This was the story of how wrestling's cocky bad boy turned into a clean living, responsible employee, which rang a little hollow at times during the documentary.

The 90-minute piece bounces back and forth between following Randy in the run up to his WrestleMania 27 encounter with CM Punk and the more typical WWE style documentary where Randy along with his family and friends discuss his life and career.  Outside of footage of Randy bonding with his wife Samantha at home (not played by a model for once) and his young daughter Alanna, which was genuinely touching, the "real life" scenes were boring fluff or came off as contrived.  There's nothing remarkably unusual about Randy Orton's road travel, media appearances, stretching regimen, autograph signing at Axxess or Make A Wish visits, it's the same routine that all top WWE superstars have to go through.  The moments that felt contrived included Randy selling frustration at being defeated by Punk at Elimination Chamber (ah, trying to maintain kayfabe in a shoot documentary, how quaint), bumping into John Cena backstage in catering with his wife and child at a Raw TV taping, and the closing scene of a triumphant Orton kissing his wife as soon as he had finished his match with Punk at WrestleMania to give a fairytale ending.  The narration didn't help, as it was often too gushing and treated the feud between Punk and Orton as if it were real.

The DVD would have been much better served if they had cut down the reality TV style footage and focused more on his career reflections.  His life before wrestling, days as a rising star as part of Evolution and being the top dog of Legacy were all well covered, but his most important career feuds in between are barely mentioned, if at all.  The coverage of his behavioural problems failed to mention key incidents and was thus misleading.  Read on, after the jump, for more detailed thoughts of what Randy and others had to say on the DVD.

Randy Orton wasn't always such a stud.  Indeed, he was bullied at high school and claims he went AWOL in the United States Marines Corps over the hazing that went on there, after his attempts to feign an injury to get discharged failed.  However, there was no admission, yet alone remorse, of the hazing Randy participated in as a petulant young punk of Amy Weber and Rochelle Loewen that led to them both quitting WWE in early 2005.  These were far from the only women who he treated badly during this period, as his reputation at the time was that he would treat any woman badly that didn't treat him as God's gift.

Randy is very open that he never dreamed of being a WWE superstar when he was a kid growing up and only became interested in a wrestling career when he was stuck in a dead end job at a gas station at age nineteen and had his curiosity piqued when he started watching wrestling again.  So his dad, former WWF wrestler Bob Orton Jr., pulled a few strings and he was quickly offered a developmental contract.  Randy also admits wondering "what am I doing here" when he bumped into Dave Batista on his first day at Ohio Valley Wrestling, who at that point was ridiculously jacked up, as were Brock Lesnar and John Cena when they joined OVW too.  He soon discovered how to transform his rather average looking physique to fit in with the resident bodybuilders and was a natural in the ring.  Randy admits that he thus quickly developed an ego, carried himself like his "shit don't stink" and was basically a bit of an asshole.  Cena was very blunt about what he thought about Randy early on in his career, despite his obvious talent:

I thought he was a dick, he was extremely cocky.

WWE producer Arn Anderson and Triple H reveal themselves to be Randy's biggest supporters amongst WWE management.  Indeed, Hunter extolls the effortless smoothness of Randy's work, likening him in that regard to Shawn Michaels, and recalls handpicking Randy to be a part of Evolution, a decision which he says was a "no brainer." Batista, Hunter and Randy all talk about how that decision brought them a lot of political back biting, jealousy and even "accidentally on purpose" in ring injuries, but don't have the introspection to admit that their aloof attitudes were partly to blame for that.

Conspicuous by his absence in the coverage of Randy Orton's first World Heavyweight title win is Chris Benoit, though if you look hard enough you'll see his name plate on the title belt.  Randy's short-lived title run is blamed on his immaturity and not being ready for the responsibility, which is a bogus excuse as he was never scheduled to have a long run.  No mention is made about how his babyface turn the day after winning the title was badly mishandled and rushed, he was clearly inexperienced and uncomfortable in being a good guy at that point, and how that feud with Triple H actually set him back.

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 18th 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.

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