Wednesday, August 17, 2011

RKO > Randy Orton?

TWB superfan and Twitter devotee John Ammentorp made this observation during SummerSlam that I thought to be very interesting:
I kinda feel like Randy Orton isn't really that over... but the RKO is.

The only reason anyone likes Orton?
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It's an interesting thought, but if you do look more deeply into it? Yeah, I think he might have a case. I don't want to use Smackdown as an example because they pipe in crowd noise so that guys who don't get as organic a reaction as they'd like come off as more over than they are. So let's look at PPV reactions. Thankfully enough, I saw the last two PPVs.

Both Money in the Bank and SummerSlam heard Christian getting audible chants. Chicago's reaction last month was monstrous, at least before the end of the match and the beatdown that followed. Los Angeles' reaction Sunday felt a bit more mixed, but even after Edge totally hit the dump button on his best friend, there were still really loud "LET'S GO CHRISTIAN" chants. Granted, both Chicago and Los Angeles had smark crowds going for them, ESPECIALLY Chicago, but that first city, yeah, something really weird happened that, if you think that "smark" crowds are as mindless sheep as their "casual/kid-laden" counterparts, shouldn't have happened.

Despite getting almost no positive reaction for a lion's share of the match, Orton started getting cheered like crazy when he was beating the crap out of Christian post-match, which culminated in two RKOs on top of the announce table. Those attempts at his finisher got the biggest spikes in crowd reaction of them all. It was more or less the same story in LA. Orton got a better reaction, but it didn't consolidate until he hit the RKO on Christian on the steps.

What gives? Does the RKO have special hypnotic powers that make people cheer for it? Does it suddenly make Orton more likable? Or is it that the move itself is over, and that people wait for it from Orton like crowds in that episode of The Simpsons waited for Bart to say "I didn't do it" and wanted nothing else from him but that payoff? That is an interesting question.

Adding more fuel to the fire, what's the chant that Orton usually gets? It's not "Let's go Orton!" or "Randy! Randy!" but "R-K-O! R-K-O!" It's the move that draws the aggregate crowd reaction most associated with Orton, and I feel like this has been the case since he was in front of a live crowd on a regular basis. Contrast that with Cena, who gets crowds to engage in straw referendums on every show, and you get a tale of two top guys, it seems. Even when Cena draws the "CENA SUCKS!" chants, he's the one drawing the heat, not his finisher.

Granted, two shows in front of skewed crowds and distant memories of Orton on the live show do not really make for a compelling sample size. This is a tricky question to answer, because maybe it's not the most honest question to ask in the first place. At the same time though, it does seem compelling when your supposed top guy is getting dwarfed reactions to someone who has effectively been castrated in terms of heroic value in the booking, at least in terms of reasons why we should root for him. Let's face it, whether you agree or disagree with the way they've booked Christian in the last few months, it's indisputable that his tactics are ones that most wrestling fans would disapprove of. Yet, nearly everyone in Chicago and enough fans in Los Angeles cheered him. Does Christian really inspire that much rebellion against his portrayal? And if that is the case, then what does that say of the fiber of the fans who'd turn on him at a moment's notice because he gets hit with a RKO?

Again, it's a very tricky yet a very interesting question to ask. I'm not sure it can be answered, but there's been enough circumstantial evidence to support speculation at the very least. It would be pretty wild if one of WWE's biggest heroes (along with Cena, CM Punk and Rey Mysterio) turned only to be popular because he has the shiniest toy (or in this case finisher) in the box. I don't know what that does for him going forward, but at the same time, maybe it's good that he's got something that strong to hang his hat on.

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