EST July 2004 | The only approved source for all things on WWE Superstar, Randy Orton.

Backstage, Randy Orton asked HHH what he was doing tonight. HHH said he was trying to make sure he picked the right guy as the face of the WWE. Orton told him, “You did” and walked out.

Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship
By invoking his rematch clause, “The Beard” again has a chance to usher in a new era of WWE main eventer and prove he is much more than a “solid B-plus,” as Stephanie McMahon suggests. Yet to complete the transition, he’ll have to conquer WWE’s Apex Predator, who — as the world found out at The Biggest Party of the Summer — has very powerful advocates in the form of the McMahon family and Triple H.

The rematch was announced on the Aug. 23 edition of SmackDown, after Bryan outright challenged The Viper to a fight on the blue brand. The arrogant Orton instead insisted the match will have to wait until Sunday, Sept. 15, on pay-per-view.

Whether Triple H, WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon or Stephanie McMahon will wield any influence at Night of Champions remains to be seen, though their lack of faith in Bryan as WWE Champion has been made painfully clear. For his part, Orton claims he has merely taken advantage of opportunities as they’ve come. As far as The Viper is concerned, Bryan’s bad luck is Orton’s good fortune, and nothing more.

Outside influences aside, the WWE Title Match at Night of Champions holds plenty of intrigue, never mind intensely bitter feelings between champion and challenger. Unlike their memorable three-bout series earlier this past summer — which ended with a handshake after the submission specialist made The Viper tap out in a Street Fight — there is little respect to be found this time around. Rather, with the WWE Title now around his waist, Orton believes himself on a much higher plane than his No. 1 contender — an opinion evidently shared by the WWE Chairman, COO and Executive Vice President of Creative.

Yet, will the implicit support of Triple H and the McMahons help Orton fend off the “Yes!” Lock that made him quit once before? The WWE Universe has seen what Bryan, the ultimate underdog, is capable of when his back is against the wall. How will his seething anger toward the establishment manifest itself when the squared circle’s most prestigious title is on the line?

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