Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow, John Carbery, Brian Damage and Earl Marx
It’s Sunday Sermon time and following last weekend’s Royal Rumble, it seems only topical that we assess whether or not Randy Orton was the correct choice to win the Rumble or if someone else was a more suitable candidate. We’ll also discuss if we think another battle between Orton and John Cena is something we want to see at WrestleMania 33?
Craig: Like others on this blog, I wasn’t expecting Randy Orton to win the Rumble last Sunday. Sure, the odds shortened in the lead up to the event but I still never saw him going over.
After all, he’s been stuck in a mid-card programme with the rest of the Wyatt family for months now with the only high point, in my opinion, being the tag team title reign. Sure, the Rumble can heat up even the coldest of acts but still, to me, he seemed like a long shot.
Now, following this week’s Smackdown, it appears set that Randy Orton will challenge John Cena at WrestleMania 33 in yet another battle between these two superstars.
Is that match something we want to see? Do you think Orton was deserving of winning the Rumble? All that and more in this latest Sunday Sermon.
Jamie: Orton winning the Rumble was a funny one for me. It was a surprise, which is usually a good thing in wrestling, but I was still left underwhelmed. On the one hand I was happy to see a full-time member of the roster win it, and for once it was a bit of a surprise. I too had a flutter on the Rumble match and refused to accept Orton as a genuine contender, despite him being the bookies favourite. On the other hand; it’s Randy Orton. One of the trademarks of WWE these days is that fans never have to wait too long for a superb match. When was the last time one of these matches included Randy Orton? Against Christian a few years ago? As part of a six-man tag against The Shield? He’s a solid wrestler who has always been over with fans, but he does not – and probably hasn’t since 2004 – elected a passionate reaction from fans that the likes of John Cena, Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Chris Jericho, Triple H, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar etc. do. Orton is an 8 time WWE Champion, but it feels like WWE have plucked someone from the mid-card and chucked them into the main event of WrestleMania. Hopefully this changes, but right now I’m totally underwhelmed.
John: One thing I’ll say is after watching the Rumble, Orton is a better choice than the guy everybody seemed to think was going to win, The Undertaker. Taker looked awful. He resembled a giant version of Bill Bailey and moved like someone in pain. Truth be told he probably has no business being in a marquee match at Mania.
It didn’t so much feel like Orton was the last man standing so much as he was the last man left over. Everybody of consequence was out and Randy was just there.
I actually have confidence that WWE will present a good show at Mania. Their rotten booking couldn’t spoil the last few at least and with their booking several main events instead of just one, sorry Punk but that’s how I see it, they’re not locked into having the whole card rest on the shoulders of the Rumble Winners match. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lesnar vs Goldberg goes on last because that match has been built perfectly. Their brief interaction in the Rumble match was everything it should’ve been, it made me want more. Lesnar’s reactions to being eliminated were glorious too.
Jamie: The funny thing is, if I only consider wrestlers who actually competed in the Rumble match, Orton would probably be my pick. This is, of course, using the benefit of hindsight that the likes of Finn Balor and Samoa Joe did not make surprise appearances in the match. Also, just like John, as soon as I processed Orton ‘main eventing’ WrestleMania I jumped to the assumption that he will receive a title shot, but not necessarily in the true main event of the show. WWE do, after all, like to promote several ‘main events’ at WrestleMania; Orton will merely feature in one of many.
Brian: It was a surprise and one that made me scratch my head. I mean does the WWE have so little confidence in their other talents that they keep going to the well with same wrestlers over and over again? Don’t get me wrong, I like Randy Orton and he has the ability to have a great match with just about anyone. He doesn’t nearly get the respect of the smart marks that he nearly deserves.
With that said, though, him winning was a big, fat meh to me. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either. WrestleMania seems like the one pay per view every year where Vince McMahon has total and complete creative control. I am most likely wrong but it certainly appears that way with the same tried and true stars getting the big matches for ‘Mania.
John: Dave Meltzer had mentioned that Cena vs Orton is definitely not going to happen at Mania and that Cena may end up in a less than marquee match at the show. Possibly losing to Corbin. Everybody seems to be thinking that Orton vs Bray Wyatt is a highly possible match with Wyatt winning the title at Elimination Chamber. If Cena is going to lose the title at EC though, personally I’d say the smartest choice would be AJ Styles to regain the belt.
Orton doesn’t really have the verbal skills to carry a Mania match, he’s admitted himself he’s not the strongest promo out there. If his match at Mania is to rely on the in-ring element then there’s no stronger opponent for him than AJ, who is by far the best wrestler in WWE and possibly the world. Though it would look like panic booking, which I think WWE might be doing right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if Undertaker was pencilled in to win the Rumble only for him to turn up the way he did and Vince to get cold feet.
For my money, Bray Wyatt has never displayed the type of skill it takes to be a full on main event talent. I couldn’t name a single match he’s had that I would consider a classic or even above good or solid. But for all I know he’ll rise to the occasion should it occur.
Brian: To be fair to Bray Wyatt, he has been used rather sparingly in his career. He’s mostly the voice behind the Wyatts rather than the muscle. Bray Wyatt will never be confused with a 5-star wrestler like AJ Styles but his promo ability and ring theatrics are strong enough to hold fans attention and that in itself is a positive.
The thing that I don’t get, if John Cena vs Randy Orton was never the intention at WrestleMania, why have Cena beat AJ for the title in the first place? It seems like such a waste just to make Cena champ for a couple of weeks. Why because the WWE can now say he is a 16-time champion. It seems fruitless to me.
Randy Orton vs AJ Styles could potentially be a great match but to John’s point on cutting great promos, AJ isn’t exactly the greatest on the mic either. He has greatly improved from his earlier days with TNA and even his beginnings with the WWE but we will never mistake him for a Flair, Rhodes, Piper etc.
John: That’s very true, I would imagine though if Orton and Styles were to wrestle at Mania, they’d be able to sell the feud on the quality of the match and allow other feuds to play out on the microphone. It’s a moot point anyway as I’d imagine it’ll be Bray for better or worse.
I think Bray and Randy will have a serviceable contest on the day, but they’ll probably get left in the dust by other big matches.
Craig: I agree with earlier points, of the men in the ring, it did make a lot more sense to have Orton win. I think that’s why I was perhaps so disappointed that it was Roman Reigns that came out number 30.
The notion of Bray Wyatt winning at Elimination Chamber is certainly interesting. Considering how 50/50 they’ve booked Bray in recent years, to me that would be more of an immediate bump up the roster than when Ambrose won the title last year.
You could argue that Orton is a safe choice on some levels but, on others, he isn’t. After all, he’s a wellness violation away from having his run with the company terminated.
As the week progresses, it makes even less sense in terms of long-term plans to have Orton win. I just don’t get it.
John: It was put to me earlier that Bray might win and retain at Mania, which would actually achieve something. He’s been stuck in the upper mid card for some time but if he were to walk into WrestleMania as champion and beat a bonafide main event player like Orton, Bray would be an upper card fixture for the next few years.
Jamie: As underwhelming as Orton being thrust into the title picture feels, at least it wasn’t predictable. Moreover, it’s equally hard to predict where WWE are going with this; something that should help Orton and whoever he’s going to face. We’ve seen Orton face Cena a million times, so it’s clearly a well WWE like to frequent. If match quality is on anyone’s list of priorities, then AJ Styles should still be considered a viable opponent too. Then there’s the obvious storyline based match with Bray Wyatt, but that would require Wyatt to win the WWE Championship which two weeks ago, would have sounded ridiculous. While I wish this situation would have been presented to someone I find more interesting and entertaining, for once I can’t complain about WWE’s booking between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania being easy to predict.
Earl: Now, I’m coming into this one cold (meaning I have yet to read what my peers feel) and I am just “shooting from the hip” based on the question asked. I assure you – i will DEFINITELY read my peer’s thoughts because they are uber awesome, BUT…here we go…
Was Randy my choice for winning the Rumble? No. I went on record by saying I hoped for Finn Balor, BUT, if he wasn’t in the Rumble, Taker was my official pick.Looking at it in retrospect (which really is the only way we can look at pro wrestling) I AGREE that Randy was the correct choice. My argument is based on me assessing Randy’s win against Finn Balor or The Undertaker. Finn, as much as I wanted him to win, was very questionable by today’s standards. If this was 1999-2010 almost, Finn would be slotted as the winner as soon as he got the clearance. But, in today’s era, with the innernetz running rampant and talent being questionable, slotting Finn or Taker to win would be taking a HUGE risk. A risk I’d love Vince to take, but I can understand wanting to protect his main event. I think Vince wants to protect the image that the Royal Rumble winner faces the champion at Mania. Do we really want the image in our heads of a guy winning then being hurt again on the road to Mania? Who will point to the sign???? Ha. I am just joshing with you all, but I think this was one of things to consider. Finn’s shoulder would be questionable for the next couple of months. As soon as Taker began to move in the Rumble, a BIG part of my heart just knew he wasn’t going to pull it off. His movements were so slow and oddly paced. He looked like he was in pain. We need a guy who “seems” to be a healthy, strong, believable pick to win one of the biggest Rumbles of all time. A Rumble….laced with legends….I know we disagree…but “The Legend Killer” is believable to me. Again – not my first choice, but I agree with it.
Now – I’m gonna read the chain 🙂
I forgot to add – I DO NOT believe John Cena and Randy Orton is the Mania plan. I think there was always something more to this Wyatt Family story Randy has been involved in. It’s somewhat old school booking and I do hope Bray gets the title and this story culminates at Mania. Randy’s pairing with the Family has always seemed odd to me and out of place. Mania could be the place where Randy resets himself.
I’ve told a number of close friends I always feel like Randy is not motivated unless he is at the top of wherever he is. If he’s not in the world title picture or the highest of profile feuds, he seems to just be there to me. If Randy wins the title at Mania, I see him getting that “jolt” again…that “fire” to be relevant. Lest we also forget he has been featured on the USA network Shooter show so he’s already a PR lock from a “face of the brand” perspective. I see him feuding with AJ from the dreaded post-Mania season on Smackdown Live. Hot feud and should give us a few good matches this summer if everyone stays healthy.
My ONLY hope…is that I do NOT have to see Cena/Orton part 85 on any more ppvs. I’ve never been a fan of their matches despite the history.Would be a huge letdown for me if the match actually made it to Mania.
Got thoughts on Orton winning the Rumble or the prospect of him facing Cena at WrestleMania? Then leave them below.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.