One year ago today (Jan. 25), this happened on Raw...
Alexa Bliss had “burned” Randy Orton’s face with a fireball, so two weeks later he made a miraculous recovery and cost her the Raw Women’s title (against Asuka... remember her? But that’s a different subject for a different post).
That somehow wasn’t the weirdest — and in a lot of people’s estimation, worst — the program had been or would get. This was after Orton set The Fiend on fire at TLC, and before Bliss would sit atop a giant box with black ooze coming out of her pores to distract Bray Wyatt’s alter ego at WrestleMania 37 and allow The Viper to win the feud.
Orton is doing something very different right now. While speaking to The Ringer Wrestling Show about how fans are reacting to seeing him crack the occasional smile while working with Riddle in RK-Bro, the veteran reflected on how he’s learned to loosen up — and how his current approach also served him well during his program with Bliss & Wyatt:
“Rolling with the punches is something that I’ve realized, more recently than not that if I just accept that I’m out of control of some of these situations... and I’m talking about the business right now, if I just take what they give me and do it to the best of my ability — like I was doing The Fiend stuff a year ago, and that was hard. Some of that was rough. They put me in the burn mask one week, and the next week I’m out of it and my skin healed. It’s tough.
“And then you go to, who you would imagine you go to when you have a gripe, and go, ‘Hey, I can’t do this. Man, aren’t they gonna...’
“[Using a gruff, Vince McMahon voice], ‘Just do it. It’s going to work.’
“Roll with the punches. You go out there and do your best job, and even though I’m lighting a dead guy on fire and he’s the babyface [laughs]... I had a very hard time trying to make that real, but I feel like I did a good enough job where even though it was a little cringe-worthy for some people, because I really, really tried to just believe that I was going through this, I think it helped people buy into it a little bit more while we’re suspending that reality, and trying to make them believe — like they would when they’re watching the most recent Halloween movie, or Jason [Friday The 13th] movie.
“They want to believe when they’re in there. They want to be entertained, and so I think the more I can accept that, and make that real, and make that something that I’m feeling and not just words that some 22-year-old writer wrote on paper for me, but if I believe it and make it mine, I can get them to believe.“
As much as a really fun act with Riddle, it’s this kind of honesty that’s turned the third generation wrestler from someone adult wrestling fans rolled their eyes about to a performer we enjoy as much as we respect.
It’s okay to admit you tried something, or were tasked with trying something, that didn’t work. Shout out to Randy for doing so.
And for a pretty good impression of his boss.