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Randy Orton doesn’t actually have great wrestling matches

Randy Orton and Edge are wrestling against each other this Sunday (June 14) at Backlash 2020, in a bout that WWE is promoting as The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever.

There’s been plenty of laughter and eye-rolling at WWE’s hyperbole, because there is a zero percent chance that the match will actually be the greatest wrestling match ever.

Edge has not wrestled a no frills, straight up singles match in over nine years. In kayfabe, the idea is that Orton has a huge advantage in a standard one-on-one wrestling match against Edge, because Edge’s grit won’t compare to Orton’s natural talents. Out of kayfabe, Edge’s lack of ring work over the last nine years makes it impossible to believe that he can just walk in there and have The Greatest Wresting Match Ever.

But there is another piece of evidence, outside of kayfabe, that also shows why this match has no chance to live up to the billing. I want to point this one out because I think it’s less widely understood than Edge’s shortcomings. So here it is: Randy Orton doesn’t actually have great wrestling matches.

I’m not talking about gimmick matches, like Hell in a Cell or Punjabi Prison matches. I’m talking about straight up singles matches, just like the one coming up at Backlash with Edge. Randy Orton hasn’t had a great straight up singles match on pay-per-view (PPV) in at least three years.

In order to illustrate this point, I examined Orton’s most recent one-on-one matches on PPV that did not have any kind of gimmick. These are just no frills, straight up, one-on-one wrestling matches, which is apparently his specialty.

Here is a listing of those matches in reverse chronological order, as well as the star ratings handed out to those matches by the Cageside community and Dave Meltzer. It’s generally accepted that a great match equals four stars or higher. So let’s find out the last time a straight up singles match from Orton on PPV achieved that mark on either of those scales.

Randy Orton’s Star Ratings

Opponent Event Cageside Meltzer
Opponent Event Cageside Meltzer
Ali Hell in a Cell 2019 3.59 3.25
Kofi Kingston Clash of Champions 2019 3.31 3.00
Kofi Kingston SummerSlam 2019 3.04 2.50
Triple H Super Showdown 2019 3.43 2.25
AJ Styles WrestleMania 35 3.75 3.25
Rey Mysterio Crown Jewel 2018 3.27 2.00
Jeff Hardy Backlash 2018 3.34 2.25
Bobby Roode Fastlane 2018 3.47 3.50
Rusev Hell in a Cell 2017 2.79 3.25
Rusev SummerSlam 2017 1.49 N/A
Jinder Mahal Money in the Bank 2017 3.23 3.50
JInder Mahal Backlash 2017 3.10 2.75
Bray Wyatt WrestleMania 33 2.18 1.25
Luke Harper Elimination Chamber 2017 4.01 3.75
Bray Wyatt No Mercy 2016 N/A 2.50
Brock Lesnar SummerSlam 2016 N/A 3.00
Sheamus SummerSlam 2015 N/A 3.00
Sheamus Battleground 2015 N/A 3.50
Seth Rollins WrestleMania 31 N/A 4.00

Based on these results, the last time the Cageside community rated an Orton match as great was over three years ago, when he faced Luke Harper at Elimination Chamber 2017. That’s 14 matches deep on this list before coming across a great match.

You have to go back two years further to find a match that Meltzer considered to be great. That would be Orton versus Seth Rollins from WrestleMania 31, which is 19 matches deep on this list.

Star ratings are not some foolproof method; it’s just a subjective evaluation of a match, and everyone has a different opinion. Some people reading this article may feel that Orton vs. Mahal Styles was a great match. These numbers simply indicate that the Cageside community and Dave Meltzer both agree that Randy Orton hasn’t had a great straight up wrestling match on PPV in over three years. That’s good enough for me; your mileage may vary.

So I don’t think the question people should focus on here is if Orton and Edge can pull off The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever. That’s a completely implausible outcome with zero percent chance of happening. The more realistic question to wonder about is, can they have a great wrestling match?

The match has already been taped, and will have the advantage of post-production and editing, as well as the opportunity to do multiple takes on spots that go awry. But it will have the disadvantage of not taking place inside an arena filled with thousands of loud fans. There’s also the point illustrated above, that Randy Orton doesn’t actually have great no frills wrestling matches on PPV.

Do you think Edge and Orton will have a great match at Backlash?

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