Largely due to who his father and grandfather are, Randy Orton was predestined for pro wrestling superstardom from the day he decided to follow in their footsteps. He made his WWE Universe debut when he was only 21 years old, and he became the youngest World Champion in history by the time he was 24. Along the way, he held the Intercontinental Championship, was a member of the top stable Evolution, and ran roughshod upon sports entertainment icons as “The Legend Killer.” Things only looked up from there, and 11 more World title reigns and possibly more to come make it obvious Vince McMahon is one of Orton’s biggest fans.
With all of that said, behind the scenes, Orton has been anything but grateful about his position. Generally acting more like a petulant child than an ideal employee, it’s amazing how many chances WWE gave him. Although definitely talented, Orton has long been castigated by critics as bland in the ring and outright boring on the microphone, and his technical shortcomings are only the least of his problems. He’s shown a serious abusive streak with drugs, fans, and coworkers all, typically showing no remorse or guilt over his actions.
Given his personality, Randy Orton doesn’t seem like the type of person to express any regret over his worst misdeeds, either. That doesn’t mean we can’t keep calling him out for them, though. Now that Orton won the 2017 Royal Rumble and seems primed for yet another endless run as the top superstar in WWE, it might be a good time to look back on the aspects of his life and time in the business thus far and consider whether or not he actually deserves it. Keep reading to discover 15 horrible career missteps Randy Orton will never live down.
15. Stealing And Destroying A Fan’s Phone
Cool as it would be if every pro wrestler in the world wanted to be best friends with their fans, the truth is, plenty of them aren’t exactly people persons. Randy Orton would be high on the list of the anti-social wrestler spectrum, and he started earning his reputation back in 2007. Shortly after the 9/10 episode of Raw was taped, several wrestlers and fans happened upon a local bar in the Green Bay area. As often happens in these scenarios, the fans wanted to take pictures and hang out with the wrestlers. Most of them were amenable to the requests, including names like Mr. Kennedy, Beth Phoenix, Carlito, Cody Rhodes, and Shelton Benjamin. Unfortunately for these fans, Randy Orton was less compliant with their friendly request, instead stealing the digital camera the pictures were being taken on. Orton then ran up the bar stairs, took the SIM card out of the camera, and threw it back at the fans. Once they realized the SIM card was gone, the police were called, and Orton was forced to pay his theft victim $100 so he wouldn’t press charges. We’re not trying to argue Orton had to take a picture or sign an autograph, or even be outwardly nice to his fans. It should go without saying he shouldn’t steal from them, though, and it makes it hard to support him knowing he’d probably do it to you, too.
14. Throwing Fireworks At His Co-Workers Car
While it’s bad enough for Orton to be abusive with his fans, at least he has the vague excuse he was approached by people he didn’t know. That wasn’t the case when he abused Rochelle Loewen, nor was any sort of annoyance whatsoever a factor when Orton nearly killed Maria Kanellis, Carlito, and Umaga, plus any other passersby that happened to be in the area, during what he apparently reckless endangerment was a silly prank. Orton repeatedly fired fireworks in the direction of a moving vehicle with the aforementioned WWE superstars inside, himself racing down the highway to keep up with them in a separate car. Chances are, he would have blown up in the pursuant explosion as well, increasing still the potential death toll of his childishly stupid antics. Maria reported the incident during a shoot interview with RF Video, during which she also claimed Orton was constantly verbally abusive to her at the start of her career. She also understandably called sitting in a car that was getting shot at with fireworks was one of the scariest moment of her life, and it’s pretty easy to believe her when she said that.
13. Bombing At WrestleMania XXV
Despite his status as a Wunderkind, it took Orton a reasonably normal seven years in WWE before he was able to reach the true pinnacle of the sport, the main event of WrestleMania. In 2009, he headlined the 25th Grandest Stage of Them All against Triple H in what on paper looks like a classic passing of the torch. It didn’t quite pan out that way, though, with Triple H retaining his WWE Championship after a 23 minute slog that had most of the 72,000 fans in Reliant Stadium sitting on their hands, bored out of their minds. Triple H later blamed the problem on the fact Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker worked one of the greatest matches in company history, followed by John Cena winning his second World Championship, the combination apparently draining the crowd and making it impossible for Triple H and Orton to win them back. This match just plain blew, taking away much of Orton’s momentum and making it clear Triple H’s best days were behind him. Naturally, seeing how badly this failed, WWE nearly booked the same thing again not five years later.
12. Getting Mr. Kennedy Fired
Throughout the second half of the 2000’s, Mr. Kennedy looked like one of the brightest new stars in the WWE Universe. His uniquely pretentious gimmick as a self-announcer was a big hit with fans, and his ring work was at least decent enough that he could learn as he became popular and turn into a strong main event talent once he was ready to get there. WWE thought he might be on his way in 2007, when he won the Money In The Bank briefcase at WrestleMania 23. Rumors indicated the push would also see him revealed as Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son, although that storyline was held off and later given to Hornswoggle for various reasons. Two years later, Kennedy was fired from the company, largely because Randy Orton went to McMahon and complained that he was being dangerous in the ring. When McMahon didn’t immediately react, Orton got Cena to join in on the complaint, at which point Kennedy didn’t stand a chance. While Orton probably doesn’t regret this at all, it still makes him look like a total jerk who actively destroys careers in an industry where everyone makes mistakes.
11. Calling Kofi Kingston Stupid Mid-Match
It would be one thing if Orton had only hurt one career with his childish complaints, and yet it was less than a year later until he nearly destroyed another. This time, he didn’t even have the excuse that his victim had been working “unsafe,” arguably committing a worse act in completely exposing the business by screaming at them in the middle of a match. It was January of 2010, and Orton, John Cena, and the fast rising Kofi Kingston were in a triple threat match to decide the number one contender to the WWE Championship. The finish saw Orton pin Kofi, though the two apparently had miscommunication about how that would come about. Kofi must have thought he was supposed to lose to the Punt, taking enough time to get up off his knees that Orton started pounding the mat in a childish temper tantrum. After Kofi got up and took the RKO, Orton repeatedly called him “Stupid” on air, clearly dropping an f-bomb on camera while doing so. This time around, it didn’t even matter Kofi made a mistake, considering how incredibly small it was—no one even would have noticed unless Randy acted like a jerk.
10. Trashing Kelly Kelly On A Radio Show
By the year 2017, people should be aware a woman’s sex life is nobody’s business but her own, and believe it or not the same was true in June of 2011. Granted, given his track record with female coworkers, it might not be too surprising Randy Orton never got the memo on this one. During an interview with 98 KUPD in Arizona, the host repeatedly goaded Orton into dishing on female superstars, asking if he was method acting during his short stint with Kelly Kelly. Orton responded he “could name a few method actors in WWE. Like, ten guys.” The implication here is pretty obvious, and is the sort of thing coworkers shouldn’t say about one another in absolutely any profession. The worst part of it all is that the interview took place during Kelly’s short run as WWE Divas Champion, thus marring what should have been the peak of her career. Orton was never publicly punished for his comments, while Kelly left the industry the next year.
9. Going AWOL From The Military
While Randy Orton’s main career has been in professional wrestling, like most people, he had a few other jobs as well, some related, some not. Before wrestling, he got into a different type of service, which coincidentally affected another career he attempted after gaining fame in WWE. Immediately after graduating high school, Orton enlisted with the US Marine Corps, only to apparently change his mind about it the next year. Rather than go about that decision the legal way, he decided to simply up and leave. While most jobs wouldn’t do anything other than fire you, in the military, they call this going AWOL. Once they found Orton and forced him to return to his post, he went AWOL again. There was yet another mark on his record for disobeying an order from a commanding officer. Because of these actions, Orton was tried under a court-martial and convicted, sentenced to 38 days in military prison at Camp Pendleton. He was also forced out of the Corps with a bad conduct discharge. How did this affect his later career? Keep reading…
8. Ruining Rochelle Loewen’s Belongings
Not every WWE careers turns out nearly as well as Orton’s, and most of the time the reasons sports entertainers fail aren’t particularly interesting. Rochelle Loewen is a special case, especially consider she was only in the WWE Universe for a matter of months. Loewen’s downfall was meeting Randy Orton on her first day, and committing the horrible mistake of not knowing who he was. She told Orton he was familiar but couldn’t place where she knew him from, upsetting him to the point he allegedly poured tanning lotion and baby oil in all of her bags, destroying most of her belongings. WWE exec Johnny Ace approached her shortly after it happened with a big smile to ask how her day went, and once she disappointed him with the news it was pretty terrible, Ace was able to instantly guess Orton was responsible for what happened to her. Both Orton and Loewen were on Raw at the time, and perhaps due to this incident, Loewen was transferred to SmackDown by her second appearance. It apparently wasn’t enough to make things right, and she left wrestling altogether barely two months later.
7. His First World Championship Reign
In the end, it’s hard to imagine Orton actually regrets his first World Championship reign. He was only 24 years old when it happened, making him the youngest man in history to carry the Big Gold Belt around his waist. In the negative column, he would only hold the title for a mere 28 days, he was booked extremely weak while he was champion, and it took him another three years to reach that peak again. The downfall started the very next night, when Triple H and Evolution turned on him and started a month of beat downs where Orton always looked completely incompetent and undeserving of the top spot. That Batista would succeed where he failed only six months later made Orton seem like by far the lowest tier member of Evolution, something that has more or less remained true of his success to this day. Years later on one of his DVD releases, Orton admitted that his short title reign was largely because of his immaturity behind the scenes, stating he wasn’t emotionally ready to be the company’s top star.
6. His Comments About Eddie Guerrero
The sudden death of Eddie Guerrero on November 13, 2005 remains one of the saddest days in wrestling history. Eddie was so popular in the months preceding his death he was receiving massive cheers despite WWE’s bizarre attempt at turning him heel, and the outpouring of love seen on the tribute episodes of Raw and SmackDown can make his fans emotional to this day. In spite of all this, Randy Orton made arguably the most offensive statement of his career only three months later during his feud with Eddie’s best friend, Rey Mysterio. Mocking Rey for dedicating his success in his fallen friend’s honor, Orton screamed, “Eddie ain’t in heaven. Eddie’s down there—in hell.” Nearly 11 years after the comment was made, it still feels shockingly distasteful; the sort of thing most companies would probably fire even a top employee over. Regardless of one’s own religious beliefs, it’s well known that Eddie himself was a born-again Christian, meaning he likely would have taken the statement to heart. Orton was suspended for “unprofessional conduct” shortly after Rey definitely defeated him to end their feud, although surprisingly, the two incidents probably weren’t related.
5. Getting Named As A Drug Abuser By Sports Illustrated
In early 2007, Sports Illustrated proved it was far more than merely sports entertainment when it broke serious news implicating dozens of athletes, many of them active WWE superstars, were purchasing illegal performance enhancing drugs from Signature Pharmacy. The company operated through the Internet, making it especially easy for people like Orton to get whatever drug they wanted anonymously and from anywhere in the world, at least until SI found out about it. Orton in particular was alleged to have illegally obtained anastrozole, clomiphene citrate, nandrolone, oxandrolone, stanozolol, and testosterone in the months between September 2004 and February 2007. He refused to comment on the situation when contact by SI, and all WWE would say is that Orton’s abuses all took place before the Wellness Policy was created. In fact, the Wellness Policy was created in February 2006, meaning there was a still a year’s worth of potential offenses he could have been charged with. There’s actually an explanation for that one, too: WWE has caught Orton in the act multiple times without SI’s help, with his first suspension likely overlapping with the time he was using.
4. Multiple Wellness Policy Failures
Living proof that the WWE Wellness Policy doesn’t always end careers, Randy Orton has failed at least two drug tests without ever losing his step as a main event level star. As already mentioned, his first suspension wasn’t even a Wellness issue. In April of 2006, he was caught smoking a joint backstage during a SmackDown taping. According to him, the many anger management issues he was struggling with at the time didn’t help, and he was suspended for “unprofessional conduct.” That conduct because a full-on Wellness Policy violation several months later in August of 2006, with another following in May 2012. He received another suspension for the Signature Pharmacy scandal, although it wasn’t considered an official break of the Policy, because it didn’t technically exist during all of his offenses. Had it been in action the entirety of Orton’s career, he’d have four strikes on his record, and as everyone knows, it only takes three before you’re out. Orton could have made a comeback by now, and might even be in a higher status than before through the classic redemption story. Instead, he’s in a precarious position where if he messes up again that could be the end for him…unless WWE feels like covering it up with some bogus reason name again.
3. Nearly Appearing In The Marine 2 and 3
So, remember at the start of this list when we mentioned going AWOL would cost Orton dearly in one of his later careers? Cut to 2012, Orton is a huge star in the WWE Universe, and like several others was considering spreading his wings to acting. He almost had his shot in 2009 with The Marine 2, but a broken collarbone shortly before filming lead to his character getting recast with fellow member of The Legacy, Ted DiBiase, Jr. Chances are he wouldn’t have appeared in the film anyway, because three years later he nearly starred in The Marine 3 only to again have his acting career jammed up, this time for reasons far more serious than a shoulder injury. Unsurprisingly, US Marines, especially those in the unit Orton abandoned, were outraged over the idea of him being cast as a Marine in the film. He has since starred in films unrelated to the community he disgraced, with lead roles in 12 Rounds 2 and The Condemned 2, plus smaller appearances in That’s What I Am and Countdown, all produced by WWE Studios.
2. The Night After WrestleMania 29
Bombing on the night of WrestleMania is bad enough, and yet somehow the night after can be just as important. Generally taking place near WrestleMania but in a smaller arena, meaning the most diehard fans from the night before in a louder, more intimate setting, the Raw after WrestleMania has become an event in and of itself, and the 2013 version stands as one of the most bizarre and thus entertaining in history. That night, Sheamus and Randy Orton wrestled for the right to challenge The Big Show, upset the three of them lost a 6-Man tag team match to The Shield at Mania. To say the crowd didn’t like the match would be a massive understatement, and that it went 15 minutes and was the epitome of Orton’s bland, plodding style only infuriated them further. To make up for their boredom, the crowd chanted for whatever came to mind, including announcer Michael Cole, referee Mike Chioda, and completely random unrelated things like ECW and Randy Savage. Orton was clearly embarrassed to be involved, and it would only get worse when Big Show ended the match via DQ, earning a “Thank You Big Show” chant.
1. Continuing To Bully And Harass His Fans
Multiple suspensions, countless warnings, and a lack of acceptance by fans still hasn’t prevented Orton from being the top star in WWE, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that he’s still up to his nonsense even 14 years into his career. The latest incident occurred days before the Royal Rumble when he screamed at a fan in the gym, glossed over possibly because Orton merely yelled at a fan for asking for a picture, something he’d already done before. It was a little different in 2014 when he outright attacked a fan, posting her picture to Twitter and deeming her “Latino Ms. Piggy.” Orton later argued the woman had been harassing him and his girlfriend online for some time, although this hardly justifies posting her picture to the Internet and bringing on the wrath of his 5.1 million Twitter followers. It was a matter of minutes before fans expressed their outrage and Orton deleted his Tweet, writing a new one acknowledging his mistake and saying, “the answer to bullying isn’t more bullying.” On the other hand, it would have been nice if he realized that before being a huge bully. Keep on being a star, Randy.