In 2004 we saw something that I think most of us never thought we?d see on WWE programming. Randy Orton jumped out of a cake to avenge his title loss to Triple H after Unforgiven 2004. This past Monday night on RAW Triple H chased Randy Orton around the arena with a sledgehammer and threw it through a mirror in an effort to maim Orton after he RKO?ed his wife Stephanie McMahon.
Boy how times have changed.
Based on how things developed at No Way Out and the past couple of weeks on WWE programming, it seems as if the WWE is finally going to get its wish of having Triple H and Randy Orton headlining Wrestlemania. Let’s not kid ourselves, no matter how much we as fans loved the John Cena/Randy Orton feud f rom 2007, WWE brass has been trying to make Triple H and Randy Orton the headliners of Wrestlemania since the day Orton pinned Chris Benoit for the World Heavyweight Championship at Summerslam 2004. As we all know Orton’s, babyface turn in 2004-2005 had about as much credibility behind it as a politician’s rhetoric on hope and change. Wrestlemania 21 wasn?t an option for this match. Wrestlemania 22 they weren?t on the same brand. Wrestlemania 23 Orton was recovering f rom spending months a the fall guy for Team Rated RKO. Last year they got a chance to test the feud with a triple threat at Wrestlemania 24 and participated in a mini-feud before his shoulder injury. So this year it seems the WWE has found a way to put Triple H and Randy Orton together on the grandest stage of them all, the biggest show in the company’s history, Wrestlemania 25.
It’s to the WWE’s credit that they have been able to make this feud work so far. There are a lot of reasons for it not to work really. Triple H is currently the Internet Wrestling Community’s biggest whipping boy again. I guess when you live in your mother’s basement you are more likely to come up with off the wall, ?Beautiful Mind? style conspiracy theories about how he keeps Vince and Linda McMahon tied up in a room and feeds them once a week. Either way, the backlash (insert obvious post-Wrestlemania pun here) against The Game is in full force again, circa 2003. That alone makes this a potentially questionable decision. While I?m a firm believer the IWC makes up a small portion of the wrestling, let’s be realistic. The internet is a forum for people to get information they wouldn?t have been able to get before it existed. Wrestling fans, even the most casual fans, are bound to have a few moments a year where they are tempted (and succumb to temptation) to look at wrestling dirt sheets. That alone makes the feud between Orton and Triple H a bit vulnerable to excessive criticism, and really lack of excitement in general. On top of that, the IWC and casual fans in general (as much as I hate to admit it, I am a part of the IWC, I just don?t happen to live in my parents basement yet. Although based on the way the economy is going, I may have to live there after I graduate f rom business school in 2010) were clamoring for the WWE to rebuild the John Cena vs. Randy Orton feud f rom last year. But we didn?t get that.
Perhaps we are getting something else though. Something a little more monumental and a little more epic. Right now all signs point to Randy Orton and Triple wrestling for the WWE Championship while Edge and John Cena wrestle for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 25. I find it interesting that the WWE has avoided putting Orton and Cena together at this event. While I think most people think Cena and Orton represent the future of the company, for the next 10 years, they don?t represent where the company has been the last 10 years. Ideally, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock would represent the past ten years of wrestling history. But aside f rom Austin and The Rock is there anyone else that is more representative of the past ten years of WWE history than Triple H and Edge? Triple H has dominated the single’s scene with 13 World Titles, Tag Team Title reigns, and Intercontinental Title Reigns (note: I admit I?m too lazy to look up how many Tag Team Title reigns and Intercontinental Title Reigns he’s had the past decade). In many ways Triple H has been a face of the company as well as its most consistent draw. Edge has taken a similar path the past decade. I won?t go as far as to say he’s been the face of the company, but he is definitely a face of where the company has been, and where it was 10 years ago. His ascension to the top of the company has been incredible. Multiple Tag Team Champions to go along with several single’s titles including 8 World Championship reigns is nothing to sneeze at.
So what’s the point, and what am I really rambling about with this column. What significance could these likely title matches at Wrestlemania 25 possibly have when it comes to analyzing historical significance?
Well, for a second, let’s think the WWE actually does know what it’s doing, and actually cares about its history and knows something about it (for the record I tend to believe these things). Then maybe, just maybe, the biggest show in company history is being set up to pass the torch f rom one era to the next. Triple H and Orton have a long, storied history together. Their feud last year didn?t really delve into that at all, but now things have changed. Orton has spent the past six months defying everyone that has walked in front him. Triple H has spent the last decade doing the same, and dominating the roster. Incorporating all of that together, and mixing in the real-life marriage of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, you have the potential for a truly epic feud that becomes more about Orton’s rise to the top and desire to dominate the WWE in a way that Triple has for the past decade.
On the other side of the coin you have John Cena and Edge. Two guys who also have a bit of a history, albeit a bit shorter and less extensive than Triple H and Orton. But we?ve already seen bits and pieces of that integrated into the storyline for their potential Wrestlemania match with Edge referencing his attack on Cena’s father before Summerslam in 2006. Right now, Edge is a heat magnet and with Vickie Guerrero in the mix, you have an even bigger heat magnet attached to Edge. While this feud becomes less about John Cena getting a torch passed to him then it is about usurping his rival Edge, there is a semblance of that in this match if only due to Edge’s rise with the company. I know most people don?t look at Cena and Edge and see many comparisons to how they both rose through the company, but much like Edge, Cena paid his dues. He spent time with a bad gimmick (The prototype while Edge was part Gangrel’s flock). He won several singles titles like Edge did until finally winning the big won. Edge took longer to do it. No question. But he also spent a year on the shelf with a neck injury and had to essentially rebuild his character and career after coming back. Maybe it’s a stretch to find any sort of significance in a Cena win over Edge, but in a way it can be looked at as a testament to two guys who have been loyal to the company, given their all, and passing the torch to the guy who has been groomed to be the face of the company during the current era.
Did I want to see Orton vs. Cena at this year’s Wrestlemania? Absolutely. Do I think we?re in a bad spot with Triple/Orton and Cena/Edge. Absolutely not. There’s some significance to it, and a ton of history to make the night of Wrestlemania 25 special with these two title matches. Let’s just hope the next night on RAW Randy Orton doesn?t jump out of a cake.