One of the most controversial wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots is The Viper, Randy Orton.
Considering the legacy and talents of his lineage from Bob “The Zodiac” Orton Sr. and “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr., Randy Orton was always destined for greatness. Upon making his television debut on WWE’s main roster in 2002, it wasn’t long before the young rookie started making big waves in the industry. Within a year of his debut, Orton found himself thrust in the spotlight alongside fellow rookie Batista and veterans Triple H and Ric Flair. Banded together, the four were the focal part of Monday Night Raw as members of the stable, Evolution. By 2004, Randy Orton was enjoying an impressive 210-day reign as Intercontinental Champion and shortly after, he became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in WWE history. Of course, that accolade does not come without a stain as Orton lost that title a month later, but that one setback did not stop Orton from shining throughout his now 15-year long career. In those 15 years, Orton has become a 12-time World Champion, he was the center of the internet “#RKOOuttaNowhere” Vine meme, and was one of the top, most popular stars in the company for most of his lucrative career. With that said, Orton’s career hasn’t come without controversy.
Orton grew popular by being one of the most villainous heels in the company’s history, but his actions outside of the ring carry enough of an ignominy to his reputation that it makes us believe that the real Randy Orton isn’t that different from the character he portrays. The character is notorious in the WWE Universe for doing some pretty unruly and cruel things to his opponents, but the things he’s done and said to people outside of the ring are equally appalling. If we were to examine some of the most heinous things Orton has done both in front and behind the camera, we’ll have a good glimpse at a man who is fully deserving of his Viper moniker.
15. Burned Undertaker Alive
Before he was The Viper, Randy Orton was still a young upstart looking to make a name for himself through his Legend Killer gimmick. Throughout much of 2005, Orton looked to challenge the ultimate legend in The Undertaker. This intense feud would culminate at No Mercy 2005 in a Handicap Casket match where Orton would be paired with his father to take on The Deadman at his own game. The Ortons used the numbers game to their advantage to overpower Taker and lock him in the casket to win the match. But the Ortons weren’t satisfied with a simple win. With Undertaker still inside, the Ortons had the bright idea to chop away at the casket with an axe, douse it with gasoline, and then set it on fire. Randy Orton would spend the next couple months boasting that he had killed The Undertaker and declared himself the true Phenom of WWE. Undertaker would return later that year and then get his revenge against Orton inside Hell in a Cell, but that doesn’t change the fact that Orton’s character killed a man (albeit, a Deadman) on live television and bragged about it. Wrestling can be weird sometimes.
Most wrestling fans hands hear Randy Orton’s name and immediately recall how he’s spent much of his career as the #2 top guy in the company, just below John Cena. Not many fans are familiar with why Orton was never elevated to the very top of the mountain by WWE brass, but a lot of that has to do with Orton’s frequent suspensions. The Wellness Policy basically works as a “three strikes and you’re out” rule. Technically, Orton has violated the Wellness Policy four times, but his first suspension in 2006 was labeled as “unprofessional conduct,” even though that conduct involved Orton getting caught red-handed backstage with a joint. As such, it did not count as a Wellness violation, but his second suspension in 2006 did. Because he served these suspensions, he was the only performer in 2007 not suspended for using performance enhancing drugs out of the eleven caught that summer. He was, however, suspended in 2012 for violating the policy again. One must think that Orton’s blatant disregard to the company’s policy is a massive slap in the face to those in WWE who tried so hard to push him to the top.
13. Beat Up John Cena Sr.
Before AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson spent much of 2016 making a hashtag out of beating up John Cena, Randy Orton was doing so a decade ago on multiple occasions. What helps Orton up the ante in his favor over Styles and his Club is that Orton went as far as to beat up John Cena’s dad. Perhaps #BeatUpJohnCenasDad doesn’t have the same trend worthy ring to it as #BeatUpJohnCena, but Orton’s brutality made his assault on Cena’s father more memorable than any of The Club’s beatdowns on The Face That Runs the Place. It all started in 2007 when Orton and Cena were embroiled in a heated feud over the WWE Championship. Orton made things personal when he pulled Cena Sr. out of the crowd and punted him in the head. Some time later, Orton was booked in a match against Cena Sr. where Cena watched helplessly handcuffed to the ring ropes as his dad was decimated by The Apex Predator. Orton would rekindle his scorn against Cena Sr. in January 2014 where he leapt into the crowd and pummelled Cena Sr with a slew of fists. For him to be booked so frequently to beat him up, Orton must really have a grudge against Cena’s dad.
12. Miss Piggy
In 2014, Orton took to Twitter to repost a picture he took with a fan where he called her the “Latino Ms. Piggy.” For obvious reasons, Orton’s comments received tremendous backlash from people outraged to see Orton insult one of his fans in such a public forum. To Orton’s credit, the female fan had apparently been harassing and stalking Orton’s then-girlfriend (now wife) on social media for months and so we can understand why Orton would be so miffed. Still, given that Orton holds such a high position in his company, he probably should have saved face and not posted his comments. Perhaps he should have pursued a restraining order before putting the woman on blast in front of Twitter, but to publicly insult her knowing the hot water it could land him in with WWE was not the best move. He must have realized this as he deleted the tweet shortly afterwards but by then, the damage had already been done.
11. Got Mr. Kennedy Fired
During his time with WWE, Mr. Kennedy was being primed to become one of the company’s biggest stars. After racking up wins against legends like The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, Kennedy would have been slotted to win his first WWE Championship if not for violating the Wellness Policy and getting injured upon his return. When he finally returned from his injuries on the May 25th, 2009 edition of Monday Night Raw, Kennedy was thrust into a WWE Championship feud with Randy Orton, but plans quickly changed. Taking part in a 10-man tag team main event that night, Kennedy backdropped Orton, but instead of landing on his back, Orton was accidentally dropped on his neck and head. Orton looked visibly frazzled after the botch and four days afterwards, Kennedy was released from WWE. To this day, every time Kennedy addresses the situation, Kennedy cites Orton’s backstage complaints to Vince McMahon after the incident as the reason why his promising WWE career came to such an abrupt close. Obviously, Kennedy didn’t mean to harm Orton. Accidents happen in this industry and perhaps Orton overreacted just a little bit.
10. Allegedly Defecated in Rochelle Loewen’s Bag
Over the last decade or so, Orton has gained a reputation for being a bit of a jerk. Much of that reputation stems from a now infamous story told by former WWE superstar, Rochelle Loewen. For those who don’t remember her, she had an extremely brief time with WWE that lasted from late 2004 until early 2005. As with most models who entered WWE with no prior wrestling knowledge or experience, Loewen’s arrival was met with disdain from most of the locker room. One of those locker room members unimpressed by Loewen was Randy Orton. Loewen admitted in an interview on the Voice of Wrestling radio show that Orton vandalized her belongings by pouring tanning lotion and baby oil in her bag, but a more extreme version of the urban legend popularized on the internet was that Orton also defecated in her bag. While Loewen denies that Orton included feces in his oily concoction, she wouldn’t put it past Orton to be the type of man to do such a thing.
9. RKO on Stacy Keibler
In early 2005, when Orton wasn’t bullying one of his locker roommates by pouring oil into their bag, his television feud with The Undertaker was just starting to heat up. With a mere two weeks before the two were set to face off at WrestleMania 21, people doubted that the Legend Killer had what it took to kill The Deadman’s undefeated streak. On the March 21st edition of Raw, Orton would make a bold statement to prove his critics wrong. The Viper lured his kayfabe girlfriend, Stacy Keibler, into the ring, teased a passionate kiss, and then planted her face first into the mat with an RKO. This would mark Orton’s heel turn following a failed face run over the past few months. Not only did he showcase how ruthless the character had become, but how serious he was in his feud with Taker now that he’s cut out distractions like Keibler from his life. It didn’t work as Orton still lost to The Demon from Death Valley at WrestleMania, but Orton continued his run as the dastardly villain he’s spent much of his career playing.
8. Slandered Kelly Kelly
The way this list is heading, we wouldn’t blame you if you got the impression that Orton might hate women. While The Viper may not be as sexist as he may lead on, he certainly gives that impression whenever he has a run-in with a woman and in a 2011 interview, he let his scorn for Kelly Kelly be known. In the interview, he accused the former Extreme Expose model that during her time in WWE, she has had her fair share of locker room canoodling with the majority of the male roster. Orton’s remarks against Kelly’s liaisons became a running gag throughout the interview. While Kelly Kelly’s rumored debacles with the men in the locker room have been well documented, they’re just that; rumors. Nothing’s been confirmed by anyone close to Kelly or Kelly herself so it was pretty harsh on Orton’s behalf to speculate and berate what Kelly has or hasn’t done on live radio. Orton must have realized this too–that or he got an earful from WWE agents after his comments–and apologized the next day on Twitter.
7. RKO on Fabulous Moolah
In his Legend Killer days, Randy Orton never discriminated when it came to age or gender. As long as you were a well respected legend in the wrestling industry, you should have expected an RKO in your future. It still came as a shock to many when Orton targeted the 80 year old former Womens Champion, The Fabulous Moolah, on the September 15th, 2003 edition of Raw. While Victoria was attacking Moolah and her pal Mae Young, Orton stormed down to the ring to make the save, or so it appeared. He started to scold Victoria for harming Moolah on her birthday in her hometown and that as a legend in the business, Moolah didn’t deserve this treatment. Orton helped the legend to her feet, introduced himself as The Legend Killer, and RKO’d her in front of a stunned hometown crowd with a shit-eating grin on his face. This would set the early stages for the kind of vile, remorseless character that Orton would morph himself into in the later years.
6. Temper Tantrums
Over the years, Randy Orton’s aggressive behavior has been well documented and has led to The Apex Predator throwing some violent tantrums. Now as a husband and father, Orton seems to have matured as an adult and has been able to keep his frustrations in check, but it was an entirely different story just a few years ago. One tantrum in particular saw Orton trash his hotel room during a 2007 WWE UK tour. Orton caused $50,000 in damages that he was forced to pay and was sent home early from the tour. Another instance during a television match with Kofi Kingston occurred in 2010 where Kingston botching the match finish led to Orton screaming “STUPID!” at Kingston as he stomped around the ring. The last time we saw Orton legitimately angry in the ring was in 2013, the night after WrestleMania during a match with Sheamus where Orton was upset that the crowd chanted random things during the match because their match was, as the crowd put it, “Boring.” Orton allegedly threw a more livid tantrum backstage.
5. Fired Fireworks at Fellow WWE Wrestlers
When we analyze the many debacles that a young Randy Orton was known to get himself into back in the day, it is easy to get the man confused with a college frat boy or an immature schoolyard jock. While his more well known childish antics were merely harmless (albeit disgusting) pranks, former WWE superstar Maria Kanellis recollected one example of Orton’s jockish behavior that put his fellow employees in danger. In an interview with Kayfabe Commentaries, Maria reminisced on the night that she was in a car with Umaga and Carlito when suddenly, Orton fired fireworks at the trio from another car. Certain that something would go terribly wrong and that the fireworks would strike some gas, Maria remembers that as one of the scariest moments of her life. Luckily, nothing bad happened, but Orton’s reckless behavior could have ended the night rather badly if something did go wrong.
4. Allegedly Cheated on His Wife with Jojo
Before marrying current wife, Kim Marie, Randy Orton was married to Samantha whom he married in 2007 and had a daughter with. Samantha seemed to be the main driving force in motivating Orton to change from the rambunctious, juvenile whippersnapper we’ve profiled in this list and into the distinguished, mature man we see him as today. This is why it was so shocking when news broke that the two had filed for divorce in 2013 with no explanation given to the public. The two kept their breakup private and so we do not know for sure as to why the two went their separate ways, but many speculate that the breakup was caused by an affair that Orton allegedly had with Jojo Offerman, a WWE announcer/wrestler. This speculation arose due to some cozy pictures between the two posted online around the time of the divorce. Again, these are just rumors, but if infidelity was the reason why Orton’s first marriage broke off, perhaps he hadn’t evolved away from his juvenile tendencies as much as we thought. For now at least, he has a new wife who seems to be helping him change as a person for the better.
3. Destroyed the McMahons
The more that Randy Orton’s WWE character evolved, the more he started to draw comparisons to Attitude Era star, Stone Cold Steve Austin. At a glance, it sounds like a stretch to compare such vastly different superstars, but more than anything, the two are strikingly similar in how they were booked against the McMahon family. While Stone Cold bashed his way through every member of the McMahon family, Orton spent much of 2009 going after most of the McMahon family. As a prelude to his WrestleMania 25 encounter with Triple H, Orton found himself in a personal feud with The Game’s in-laws. Orton started off the year by punting Vince McMahon in the head. When Shane McMahon returned to get revenge for his father, Orton took out Shane O’ Mac with ease. When Stephanie McMahon got involved, she received an RKO for her troubles. Luckily for Linda McMahon, Triple H would then step in before Orton had an RKO with Linda’s name on it.
2. Fled from the Marines
If one were to guess what Orton’s biggest regret was, it may be going AWOL as a marine. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1998 after graduating from high school. A year later, he received a bad conduct discharge for going AWOL twice and disobeying his commanding officer. This landed Orton in a military prison for 38 days and then sent home. After deciding to restart his life as a wrestler and then eventually a WWE superstar, Orton probably hoped he could leave his discharged behind him in the past. Unfortunately for Orton, it came back to haunt him in 2012 when he was supposed to star in the second sequel to The Marine. Word about Orton’s discharge resurfaced and real life marines and patriots were furious. To save their own skin, WWE dropped Orton from The Marine 3 and added The Miz as their star, who oddly enough went on to be the franchise player of The Marine series.
1. Slandered Eddie Guerrero After His Death
Arguably, the most heinous act that Randy Orton has ever committed which he still gets flak for to this day is the way he spoke about the late Eddie Guerrero shortly following his death. On occasion, WWE likes to use taboo subject matter like death as the focal point of their storylines; never realizing when they go too far until it is too late. One instance where they went too far was when they had Orton tell Rey Mysterio during a promo, “Eddie ain’t in Heaven. He’s down there…in Hell!” This not only struck a nerve with the fans watching, but also Eddie’s closest friends and family who weren’t told ahead of time that such a segment was taking place. Orton has said time and time again that he felt pressured to go along with the angle because he was still a young rising star who was afraid to step on any toes backstage, but considering Orton’s similar offenses (such as Orton riding and crashing Eddie’s signature low rider into the SmackDown stage), it was all just an exploitative slap in the face to Eddie’s legacy. The line about Eddie being in Hell was the worst of it all and all of it is better off never being discussed again.