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HarmonicGenerator
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Randy Orton's been hanging around in WWE for something like 16 years now. (initial side-note: how good was that OVW class of 2002? Cena, Orton, Lesnar and Batista! Developmental might be a better product now but they're never gonna get that again,)

But what year was his best?

Here's a quick recap:

2002: Gets into WWE on SmackDown, moves to Raw, gets injured and creates the RNN news network.

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2003: Joins Evolution, wins the Intercontinental Title in December.

2004: Brings Mick Foley out of retirement, wins the title from nobody at Summerslam, becoming the youngest ever champion, gets kicked out of Evolution.

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The look we'd all have if he was alive and tried to shake our hand

2005: Basically a year-long feud with The Undertaker. Some stuff about Eddie Guerrero being dead.

2006: Feuds with Rey Mysterio about Eddie Guerrero being dead, gets suspended, faces Hogan at Summerslam in Hogan's last WWE match, forms Rated RKO.

2007: Rated RKO disbands, starts acting like a Viper beating up some more legends, wins a load of World Titles at No Mercy.

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2008: Wrestles Jeff Harvey at the Royal Rumble, gets his 'Voices' theme song, forms Legacy.

2009: Kills various McMahons with the Punt, main events WrestleMania, wrestles Cena a lot.

2010: Legacy face each other at WrestleMania, some stuff with Nexus, gets cashed in on by Miz.

2011: Feuds with CM Punk, beats Christian for the World Title, loses it to Mark Henry.

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2012: Genuinely listed on Wikipedia as 'various alliances and feuds'.

2013: Goes back and forth with Daniel Bryan, unifies the two World Titles.

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2014: Main events 'Mania again, is turned on by The Authority, heads off to make a film.

2015: Wrestles Seth Rollins at 'Mania, gets injured in the autumn.

2016: Returns and is pummeled by Brock Lesnar, starts a slow-burning feud with Bray Wyatt.

2017: Maggots, House of Horrors, Jinder Mahal.

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2018: Becomes a Grand Slam Champion by winning the US Title, develops fascination with Jeff's earlobe.

 

So there's Randy's career in a nutshell. But which 12 month period was his best?

 

2009 might have been him at his peak, but the never-ending Cena feud means I can't put it at the top of my list. Likewise, 2004 had some real highs followed by some real lows. It's quite hard to choose actually. I'd be tempted to say 2011 just for consistency! I just know it's not 2017, what a shitarse of a year for Orton.

What do the voices in your head tell you?

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Orton goes through phases of being my absolute favourite wrestler to watch. Other times, he’s fast forward material.

His face turn in 2010 was absolutely masterful. There’s a match not long after Mania that year where he’s Triple H’s surprise partner against a couple of jabronis, and the pop gives me goosebumps. He hadn’t even been off TV either!

Then there’s the feud with Christian which I think is both guy’s career best work. Plus, coming off the back of that, he legitimised Mark Henry.

So yeah, 2010-2011 for me.

Edited by Slapnut
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It has to be 2004. I remember loving him when I started watching again in 2003, and reading in Powerslam that he could be champion within a year. As a kid that didn't make sense to me. It seemed abrupt and unfitting. Kind of like the weird feeling that washed over me when I found out when we got dial up that Farooq wrestled Undertaker in a pay per view championship match, once. As a kid I was plainly a fool, then, not seeing it coming. 

I love this promo so much, and nobody remembers it. It's a beautiful, brilliantly put together timeline of what Evolution had done and would do to Mick Foley, narrated by Orton. Batista and Flair stand either side. It's the worlds smuggest segment, from the worlds smuggest faction. Another 2004 highlight is the amount of times Flair is either standing alongside Randy or coming to the ring with him, looking proud as punch. Flair loved Randy and Batista. He loved being around them. He gave them the rub and they gave him a bit of youth back, I think. 

So there's all that Foley stuff, the match at Backlash obviously. There's also the fans cheering him against Edge at Vengeance in a really quite early example of the kind of against-the-grain reactions that would become commonplace a few years later. 

Even though the match has been blacklisted, he still won his first title that year. The thumbs down is still a fantastic angle, too, and by existing made another thumbs down angle one of the best ever a year later. Let's continue not talking about the title loss at Unforgiven. Is there a more nondescript pay per view than Unforgiven 2004? When 2004 hit a nadir, it hit it hard. 

There's also a fucking class cage main event with Flair at Taboo Tuesday that nobody really remembers, either. I even love him captaining a rebellion against Evolution at that shit Survivor Series you also don't remember. 

Other than that, though, I just want to say I really enjoyed the opening post. Those short year by year recaps for guys like this who've had loads of years you can't really tell apart is a great idea. It's been mostly a blur since the mid noughties, hasn't it? 

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It's got to be 2004 I think. It was his rise to being a star and it didn't feel forced at all, he was ready and fans were ready to accept him. 2009 and 2011 are close, for different reasons. Randy felt on the cusp of being the hottest guy in the business in the early part of 2009, until the 'Mania main event fell flat on it's arse. 2011 he had some real blinding matches that I don't think a lot of us would have seen coming. 

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His 2007 Summerslam feud and match with Cena was a bloody cracker, it really is a shame they never left it at that (although someone said they had an I Quit match that was good which I've not seen) because it means everyone forgets about it because of the repetitive and dull stuff they would go on to do ad infinitum. 

Edited by Otto Dem Wanz
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1 hour ago, HarmonicGenerator said:

2009: Kills various McMahons with the Punt, main events WrestleMania, wrestles Cena a lot.

2009 might have been him at his peak, but the never-ending Cena feud means I can't put it at the top of my list.

2009 is definitely my nomination mostly because of the Cena run. If you ignore Mania itself, early in the year the IED stuff gave him a new twist of dangerous unpredictability, the match with Shane was very watchable and he got the belt back and re-established himself as top heel on Raw.

The problem with the Cena feud was that it felt like overkill since they'd already had a couple of inferior runs, muddled by HHH unnecessary complications. But this was the one they got right, for me. Once they got past the overbooked bullshit of their SummerSlam match they got three compelling shortcut-heavy gimmick matches under their belt and generally kept me thoroughly entertained. I'd write quite a bit about their Breaking Point match but someone else might do that over in that one off PPV thread.

Shame Cena got finished with Orton then dumped the belt by not-really-losing to the very-not-ready Sheamus with whom Orton then produced zero chemistry with, ever. But fuck it, that's 2010's problem.

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Not to sound like a broken record but 2004 he was amazing. Wrestlemania XX, the Foley feud and Backlash match, winning the title, and also the cage match with Flair at Taboo Tuesday (?) were brilliant, and despite the frustrations around the booking it was a landmark year for him. Vividly remember him doing a run in at one stage into his face turn and basically RKO'ing everyone in sight. Good times. 

I don't think he's ever been as hot as the start of 2009 when he punted Vince in the skull and then won the Rumble. At that very moment he was on course to become one of the hottest heels in an age, and the aura kind of evaporated the following night when they kickstarted the feud with Shane. I don't mind Shane and Orton was still entertaining and had great matches throughout the year but you almost feel like it could've been even more special had they continued the momentum built up from the previous week. 

Funnily enough in terms of promos, his recent return and heel turn have done absolute wonders for him and he is fantastic to watch at this very moment. He's delivering his lines with real poise and purpose, and the stuff he's been doing with Jeff has been extremely entertaining...if a little twisted. This is the first time in a long time that at the time of writing, I'm genuinely excited to see who his next feud will be with. 

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Kicking Vince and DDTing Steph are his best moments, but Foley was his best match. 

Foley made him in that match, only closely followed by what could have been against Undertaker. If I had to pick, it'd be 2004.

Imagine that, peaking 14 years ago.

Edited by FelatioLips
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I missed all this golden 2004-07 stuff, but I will add Orton was onto something in 2008.

With my reintroduction to Orton I was shocked at all the mass he'd lost, which was absolutely bang on for his 'Viper' character. Bulked up Orton was great for the young meathead in Evolution, but the slimmed down look added to the vicious creep he now was.

It also helped that when I watched him again he was not long into that incredible Royal Rumble build with Jeff Hardy. It's a feud that gets slept on now, but genuinely that month of build for that match is one of the best they've managed. They did such a tremendous job with it that all the fans wanted for about a year was Jeff Hardy winning the belt, and from what I've read since Hardy was only supposed to be a bit of a place holder of a feud for Orton. It goes to show what WWE can accomplish when they lead you by the hand, rather than shove you down the steps. Anyway, Orton was absolutely boss during this build.

Of course, Triple H then threw him over the ropes to break his collar bone, which kept him out for nearly 4 months.

2009, for the reason he wasn't out for ages, is probably the best shout. It started incredibly well, then fat Shane McMahon decided to show us his black belt in Air Boxing as the air went out of that Orton balloon. Looking back, it's actually quite a funny angle because Orton decides half way through to stop selling most of what Shane is supposedly throwing, as Shane starts blowing out of his arse, going that Brock Lesnar hue.

The issue with the Cena stuff was it got a little much. WWE realised they had something that could headline their PPVs and got lazy with it. Some great matches in there, like, but it says it all that they went back to it so many years after and the reaction was so underwhelming.

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1 minute ago, ColinBollocks said:

It also helped that when I watched him again he was not long into that incredible Royal Rumble build with Jeff Hardy. It's a feud that gets slept on now, but genuinely that month of build for that match is one of the best they've managed. They did such a tremendous job with it that all the fans wanted for about a year was Jeff Hardy winning the belt, and from what I've read since Hardy was only supposed to be a bit of a place holder of a feud for Orton. It goes to show what WWE can accomplish when they lead you by the hand, rather than shove you down the steps.

Not to sidetrack an Orton thread but the Jeff Hardy 2008 was one of the biggest roller coasters they've put me on since about 2006 when the number of people whose results I cared about started to hover close to zero. When Benoit was back in the midcard forever, Kurt was gone, Eddy dead and it was clear Shawn was never getting one last run with the title. He kicks off strong, rumours circulate he's winning Money In The Bank and they're getting ready to go all the way with him (oooo) then he Wellnesses himself out of that one. Comes back, one banger of a feud with Umaga and he's ready to go again. Gets a title shot with Hunter at No Mercy, gets beat, although that probably does him more good than the victory the year before where HHH laughed it off as "Oh well, never mind. Good win, kid." Goes into Survivor Series with a storyline "Jeff's fucked it again" playing out throughout the day which I admit, on the day, completely fooled me, as a FANTASTIC way of squeezing Edge, the perfect bastard, into the situation (as opposed to completely unnecessary Kozlov) as Triple H vs Jeff would have meandered without a proper villain. Armageddon was the perfect setup, match and show-closing visual to crown any babyface as champion and probably best title victory for about ten years until Punk ascended to the summit in front of his own people. They captured lightning in a bottle, Jeff was ready, I firmly believed we had a true rival to Cena as "top babyface" and to my shock and  delight they went all the way with him.

For like, a month.

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It's a big reason why I rate 2008 up there with the best WWE years (only beaten by 2000).

Thing is, Jeff Hardy was a legit draw back then. IIRC, he was shifting a ton of merch, which is why WWE went all the way with it. It's a shame he wanted to leave and do all the drugs, because I was proper invested in Jeff Hardy as a main eventer. WWE wanted to keep him about so bad they were willing to promote his shocking band.

Edited by ColinBollocks
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Yeah 2008 was a cracker.

2009 Orton for me. 2004 was better in terms of match quality and the build, but psycho Orton was fantastic to watch. The Vince punt was honestly shocking. Especially the replay. Mad old bastard Vince is!

The Stephanie DDT and the kiss whilst Triple H was handcuffed was fantastic. That feud was incredibly hot. A shame they did a stupid home attack and then finished it with a shitter of a match. But yeah, up until his recent run, 2009 Orton was great.

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1 hour ago, Factotum said:

A shame they did a stupid home attack and then finished it with a shitter of a match. But yeah, up until his recent run, 2009 Orton was great.

I got Sky in my own place at the end of 08/start of 09 and Orton being a psycho bastard was the highlight of getting back into WWE. He was inked up, looked leaner and was a lot darker that the bloated meathead he was before. I thought he was great. Hell, I even loved the Triple H home invasion. It was ridiculous and over the top. But it's wrestling! Being ridiculous and over the top are what it's all about!

The match with Trips at Mania was very meh and probably suffered from going on after such a corker that Taker/HBK produced. Poor Triple H must have had a bad case of deja vu as it felt like X8 all over for him again. 

I swear that you can lip read Orton saying "about fucking time" after winning the belt in that six man tag match at Backlash the following month. It felt like a real missed opportunity for him to not win the title at WrestleMania but at least he won it whilst he was hot. After that, he seemed to have a never ending feud with Cena and Smackdown caught my interest more with the awesome Jeff Hardy/CM Punk feud of that summer. 

But yeah, Orton 2009 finally felt like a proper main eventer and lived up to that potential he had shown in previous years. He's had good spells in latches since but he's also bored me to tears at times too. Overall though, his good stuff outweighs the bad .

Edited by The Maestro
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