It didn’t take long for a popular yet controversial star to get into trouble with WWE management just days after returning to the company at the Survivor Series. But before anyone points their finger at CM Punk, guess again.
Friday night (Dec. 1) on SmackDown, Randy Orton assaulted the show’s General Manager, Nick Aldis, moments after signing with the blue brand. While the attack fits with Orton’s snakey television character, it was a shocking twist after Aldis promised to give Orton what he wanted: The Bloodline.
Earlier in the night, Paul Heyman, special counsel to Roman Reigns, confronted Aldis about his attempt to sign The Viper to Friday nights. Aldis informed Heyman he would do everything in his power to sign Orton, and if that meant offering up The Tribal Chief and his clan, so be it.
Then, in the main event segment of SmackDown, Aldis and Raw GM Adam Pearce made their respective pitches to Orton. Before the former 14-time World Champion could make his decision, Heyman appeared and advised Orton to stick to Monday nights.
Almost on cue, Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso arrived to reinforce that position by putting the boots to Orton until LA Knight made the save, running off Sikoa. Orton then flattened Uso with an RKO before signing with SmackDown and telling Heyman to tell Reigns, “Daddy’s back.”
As Orton celebrated his handy work, Nick Aldis got into the ring to fully welcome and congratulate Orton on his decision to come home to Friday nights. True to form, Orton struck with an (unprovoked) RKO from out of nowhere to leave his new boss lying on his back.
Talk about making a bad first impression.
Based on these events, Orton appears headed for a showdown with Reigns right out of the gate. In recent days, WWE announced that the Undisputed Universal Champion will appear on at least three episodes of SmackDown before the Royal Rumble. Reigns, who was excluded from the initial promotional materials for the Rumble, saw his visage added to the recently updated event poster.
While this might be the direction WWE is taking for the Rumble, the real story may be where they’re going after the Rumble.
Before coming to WWE, Aldis had a celebrated career in the National Wrestling Alliance and Total Nonstop Action/Impact Wrestling, winning each promotion’s version of a world title. After working in the industry for nearly 20 years, Aldis finally got a break with WWE this past summer, first as a producer. In October, he was named the General Manager of SmackDown.
It was a surprising role for Aldis, age 37, to assume, considering he’s still in his active prime. But Aldis was excited for the part, telling the After the Bell podcast in October:
“Opportunity comes in many shapes and sizes, and you can’t spend time dwelling on things that didn’t happen for you or why. What I would say, you can’t control what opportunities come your way, but you can only control what you do with those opportunities. And here we are in the early days of this opportunity, but I intend to make the very most of it and be the best general manager I can be, and the best general manager WWE has ever seen.”
Coming into WWE as an authority figure first seems like a subtle way for the company to introduce Aldis to its audience. Might this assault by Orton be the impetus that gets Aldis out of the office and back into the ring? Meanwhile, how might Aldis use his current power to sabotage Orton’s quest for revenge against Reigns?
Or will WWE simply script Aldis to “fire” his superstar employee, claiming Orton put his life in danger?
How do you see Orton’s now-tenuous relationship with figurehead Aldis playing out, Cagesiders? Give us your thoughts in the comments section.