Bruce Prichard on the big mistake WWE made with Randy Orton in 2004
During the latest episode of Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard, the WWE Executive spoke about WWE superstar Randy Orton and covered his first two years with the WWE. Just last week, Randy Orton and WWE celebrated his 20th year with the company.
In the early years of his career, Orton was involved in a WrestleMania match with The Rock and Mick Foley, defeating the duo with an RKO on Foley. Prichard spoke about the Rock’s level of interest in working with Orton at such a young age and why he saw himself in the third-generation star.
“Rock was really happy to be working with a guy like Randy because it was youth and in that Rock was able to see where he was at that age,” Prichard said. “I think Rock had debuted at that point and Rock could look at Randy and go, man, I’ve been there, I’m a third generation. So you had two third-generation guys in there in The Rock and Randy Orton so in Orton The Rock saw himself and understood the pressure that was put on him. And you got to live up to not only your father, but you’ve also got to live up to your grandfather and can you do it? Rock was willing to help him along the way.”
Continuing to talk about Orton’s first few years with the company, Bruce Prichard also spoke about The Viper’s time as “The Legend Killer” and detailed his interactions with WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race. During their interaction with each other, Orton spit in Race’s face, pushing his Legend Killer persona to the extreme as he continued to beat down legend’s across the WWE.
“Harley had an awful lot of respect for Randy and Harley had a lot of respect for Randy’s old man and vice versa,” Prichard said. “Harley knew how much respect Randy had for him and I think I was the one who pitched this to Harley and it was a hey Harley, we’re really looking to get Randy over and we’re looking for him to do something to a legend without doing something physical to Harley. Harley wasn’t in any shape to do anything physical, I think if Harley had his way, Harley would’ve loved to had taken an RKO.
“But Harley was not in shape to do that and throughout this whole thing that the spit came up, we’re not hate spitting. It’s just gross and I don’t know. Harley was completely cool with it because it was Randy and Harley did have so much respect for Randy in the fact that Randy had so much respect for Harley. I don’t even think Randy was big on this because it was like ahh man, I don’t want to spit in Harley Race’s face but at the same time Harley is like ‘no kid, this is going to get you over.’ It was a hell of a compliment to Randy Orton for where he was in his career for someone like Harley Race to do that for him. Kudos to Harley Race.”
After spending two years with Evolution, Orton became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in WWE history which led to a babyface push that ultimately failed. Bruce Prichard spoke about the mistake WWE made at the time and why he believes Orton should’ve stayed with Evolution for a while after winning the title.
“In hindsight, it was too soon,” Prichard said. “I would’ve loved to have Randy have a run as the heel champion with Evolution behind him and continuing to help him stay champion for a while so that you build that up even more. Evolution’s in control with Randy Orton as the champion and then Evolution would have the argument that we made you champion, we kept you champion and now it’s time for you to do the right thing and let [Triple H] be the champion. Hindsight I wish we would’ve run with it a little bit longer instead of going right into Hunter and Randy and turning Randy. I think Randy still needed a little more time on the heel side for people to truly accept him as a babyface.”
As for what’s next for The Viper after celebrating his 20th year with the company, Orton stated that he’d like to stay with WWE long after Roman Reigns decides to follow in John Cena and The Rock’s footsteps of chasing Hollywood.
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