Time to play everyone's favorite pro wrestling game: Work or Shoot?!?!
I'll admit that I bought it without too much questioning when Geno posted the story last night and I researched the alternate (and sideways) fan video that I posted in the comments.
But, in retrospect, the fact that it was getting so much play on WWE.com and not much anywhere else, the slow response by security, the company's desire to play up Orton's injuries - possibly hiding him for a big rumored Money in the Bank cash-in at a major event soon - the old Spidey sense should have been tingling more than it was.
- "I was at the Cape Town event last night," said Wrestlezone reader Jaco Breytenbach, "the incident with the fan and Randy Orton may be a work. The "fan" is a local wrestler called Blacksmith. He trains regularly (4- 5 days a week) at the gym where I am a manager. Adding fuel to the matter is that some people who were in attendance claim that the event security opened up a gap towards the finish of the Orton/Langston match where the "fan"/Blacksmith was able to enter the ring."
- M. Huntley told the site, "The guy who 'attacked' Randy Orton during last night's event at the Gran West Arena was local South African wrestler The Blacksmith. Many fans in the arena found the whole incident strange and suspicious as he was posing for photos before the show with fans who recognized him. He was sitting 5 or 6 rows in front of my friends and I. He entered the ring when the event crew backed-off from the security spots giving him the window to proceed into the ring. Everyone on the bus home was suspicious about the whole thing, a few people reckon its a WWE publicity stunt to sell tickets or to take away attention from TNA's August1 videos given the fact that people would be watching footage of Orton's so-called attack."
- "I attended this infamous WWE event last night. People were posing for photos with the guy who attacked Randy Orton last night. The attacker is a domestic wrestler called The Black Smith. The general feeling in South Africa is that this whole thing is a PR stunt and not a legitimate incident as that of the Pieter van Zyl, the fan who attacked a referee in an international rugby match between South Africa and New Zealand back in 2002 which was a legitimate occurrence. Sorry to burst the bubble, but this thing was planned. The Black Smith was a plant. No Steve Bartman incident here," said Daniel Hayward.
In the past, incidents with fans (such as when CM Punk elbowed a fan after being harassed in the stands during the closing minutes of Raw) got the silent treatment from company officials while their legal teams hashed things out. Networks and professional sports teams have policies to not show video of fans who run on the field at events so as to not encourage copycats. How quickly WWE was willing to jump on this, even releasing video and saying that "the extent of Orton's injuries are unknown at this time", probably should have raised questions even before the fan reports started.
What's the end game? Is "The Blacksmith" headed to developmental? Does creative just really want fans to think there's no way the Viper could be ready to strike the WWE champion any time soon?
Let us know what you think, Cagesiders! Work...or Shoot?