clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Randy Orton thinks some NXT stars are addicted to stupid chants

In the aftermath of a Twitter beef with Tommaso Ciampa last month, Randy Orton criticized NXT wrestlers for working too fast and taking too many risks, thereby hurting their career longevity. In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Orton continued talking about this divide he sees between the wrestling style on the WWE main roster compared to NXT.

“All those guys sell, but they need to turn up the selling meter and take a page out of some of these old-school guys’ books. You need to sell.

I can’t stand when I see 10 false finishes in a row, where a guy takes a powerbomb and then he’s up and then he’s delivering a knee, and then the other guy ducks, and then it’s boom, boom, boom, boom. It’s too much. But because these guys are capable of doing it, because the fans are going to chant ‘Fight For-Ev-Er!’ and all that crap, they’re going to keep doing it because they think that’s what they’ve got to do to get that reaction. But sometimes the fans don’t need to make noise to be reacting. Sometimes they’re sitting and they’re watching with their mouths open, not saying a word, and they’re invested and paying attention. They want to see what you’re going to do or say next. That’s the disconnect between a lot of the main roster guys and the younger guys in NXT. They’re just hungry, they’re addicted to that chant from the crowd. They want the roof to come off the top of that building every single spot that they do. There’s no build to that.

You’ve got to build to that. There’s a crescendo. You’ve got to start slower and then pick up the pace, then settle back down. It’s like a director of a symphony. It’s an art. We do it so much, and guys get injured so much, there’s a smarter way to do business. That’s my main concern.”

Just speaking for myself as a fan, I cringe more often than not when chants like “This is awesome!” or “Fight forever!” occur, because it seems like a reaction by rote rather than something genuine. In other words, it comes off to me almost like fans are waiting for their line in the script to come up where they are supposed to chant those things. But that’s an observation from watching the main roster, so it’s something that is pervasive throughout WWE programming, and not specific to NXT. It’s such a regular occurrence that WWE’s fake fans in the Performance Center sometimes say these things too, so in that sense it is indeed part of the script. I’m pretty sure it was even part of the script for the fake fans during Randy Orton’s “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” at Backlash 2020.

Now if the idea is that matches in NXT are generally more exciting and so they are more likely to receive genuine chants of enthusiasm from fans, then that’s great, and I don’t see what the problem is with that. These wrestlers are all pros and I don’t believe that they are addicted to these chants in the way Orton presents it.

Perhaps fan chants are more important to younger wrestlers than older wrestlers, but younger wrestlers are still out there trying to tell a great story in their matches, selling, and getting fans invested in their character and matches. Maybe they do it in a way that doesn’t compute for Orton, but just because a match is moving at a faster pace doesn’t mean the level of selling is lacking.

In a criticism that is pointed towards younger wrestlers in general, Orton once again emphasizes the importance of slowing things down:

“I’ve gone on record that a lot of our younger guys can be a little reckless. I’ve been around this long, and one of the reasons I’ve been around this long is my style. Although it might be a little slow and monotonous at times, when it comes to telling a story, you have to slow it down...If two guys are going 100 miles an hour, and they never slow down and they never sell, it’s a big fireworks show and I’m not getting any drama. I’m not getting invested, and I’m not wanting to see more. When it’s over, it’s over, and onto the next train wreck. It’s too much. Less is more, sometimes. Sometimes you do need to slow it down...They’re all tough, they all work hard, and they’re all talented, but I look forward to being able to get in the ring with a couple of these guys and slowing them down, showing them my opinion on what makes a good match a good match.”

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that many of the wrestlers in NXT don’t need Randy Orton to show them what makes a good match. Just because Randy Orton’s career has lasted a long time working his slower style doesn’t mean these other guys are are going to be retired in five years for working a faster pace, or that their matches aren’t good.

To be fair, Orton acknowledges in the interview that what works for him may not work for someone else:

“I’m not saying that my opinion is the only way to go. It’s worked for me, but it might not work for them. Any advice that I give guys might not work for them.”

That’s an important thing to point out, and it’s also worth noting that it can’t hurt for NXT stars to at least hear Orton’s advice and understand that his criticism comes from a place of looking out for what’s best for everyone’s health and wallets.

What do you think of Orton’s latest thoughts on the divide between older and younger wrestlers?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats