In today's WWE, the appeal of working a match with Brock Lesnar is, quite simply, getting the chance to work with Brock Lesnar. You're not going to win, but he's a special attraction and the best you can hope for is to be booked to hang with him and get the rub based on that.
That's almost certainly what Randy Orton was expecting from their main event match at SummerSlam this past Sunday night (Aug. 21, 2016) in Brooklyn, New York.
That is not what he got.
The latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (subscription required) has the story of the match and it's clear Orton was boned all the way around. When he arrived to the show, fully expecting to have a main event match like any other in WWE, that's when he was told they were going to book the match to make Lesnar look as strong as possible.
The idea, which is basically what we saw play out on the WWE Network, was to have Brock decimate Orton to such a degree that the referee would have to stop the match. How they would get there was an elbow that would open a cut on Orton's head. The Observer is reporting that Randy was told Brock could pull this off without actually hurting him.
You can go back and watch the match to see that's not really how it played out. Or you can look at the gigantic gash in Orton's skull. Or the video of doctors using 10 staples to close the wound.
He may have laughed it off on his way to the back, but there's no questioning he was hurt.
Once he got to the back, he had to tell Chris Jericho, who had gotten into a physical altercation with Lesnar over what happened to Orton, that it was a work that he was in on and he had agreed to everything. The aforementioned physical altercation, by the way, has become the bigger mainstream story than the match itself, even with the blood and gnarly head wound.
To recap: he went in thinking he would get a legitimate main event match with one of the biggest stars on the roster, ended up getting booked to be beaten down, then was actually beaten down (when he was told he would be cut but not have to take hard shots in the process), and then had the entire thing overshadowed by a fight that occurred backstage afterwards, one he, in some small way, had to help diffuse.
The Observer follows up:
One person noted that Orton was told to do it, but wasn’t expecting it to be the way it was. He wasn’t going to complain publicly about it but also was never going to do that kind of a favor again and wasn’t particularly thrilled by it.
Considering the situation, "wasn't particularly thrilled" almost seems like an unreasonably calm reaction. Lesnar, keep in mind, had failed two drug tests administered while he was preparing to return to the UFC just last month. He faced no repercussions for this from WWE -- something the Observer notes wouldn't be the case for anyone else within the company -- and not only that but was booked in an angle where it would appear he went off script to look like an unstoppable monster at Orton's expense.
All Orton was left to say on SmackDown Live two nights later was "I knew what I was getting into" while promising they would cross paths again and immediately moving into a program with Bray Wyatt. Lesnar, meanwhile, had already gone home, unlikely to return for several months.
Poor Randy Orton.