Seven years after winning his first Royal Rumble, 12-time WWE world champion Randy Orton has once again booked a ticket to WrestleMania. Orton was the last man standing among 30 participants at Sunday night’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view at the Alamodome in San Antonio. In the main event and titular match of the night, Orton eliminated Roman Reigns with a clothesline after an RKO and tossed him out of the ring. In a Royal Rumble match that was short on surprise entrances, business picked up in a hurry late in the match, following appearances from Brock Lesnar (No. 26), Goldberg (28), The Undertaker (29) and Reigns (30). After a series of memorable standoffs that could very easily be the ignition for a variety of WrestleMania feuds, it was Orton who secured a title opportunity at WrestleMania 33 on April 2, in Orlando, Florida.
“I’d say I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot of great things here, more than most,” Orton told ESPN.com immediately following his victory. “I think I heard today that there were 23 winners here in 30 Royal Rumbles. That’s quite a short list, given the history of WWE and how long WWE has been around. But not only am I one of the 23, I’ve done it twice. It’s just accolade after accolade stacking up, and I couldn’t be more grateful.” Orton, a member of The Wyatt Family, entered at No. 23 and instantly cleaned house with several of his signature RKOs, including an impressive one in which he caught Sami Zayn in mid-air after Zayn leaped from the top rope. Two spots later, however, embattled Wyatt Family member Luke Harper entered the match, creating a memorable moment.
Harper and Orton have feuded in recent weeks due to a lack of trust in the group, which caused Wyatt, the leader of the faction, to become the peacemaker for a time before ostensibly booting Harper from the group. Wyatt attempted to extend an olive branch one last time before Harper surprised his former leader with a stiff spinning lariat before eating a retaliatory big boot to the face from Orton. Moments later, after Harper attempted to put Wyatt in his own finishing move, Sister Abigail (including a signature kiss on Wyatt’s forehead), Orton rescued Wyatt again with an RKO on Harper.
Even a pro wrestling bad guy like Randy Orton has a heart. Especially when it comes to family. That has been apparent in the last few weeks even as the heel Orton won the Smackdown tag team championship with Bray Wyatt last weekend at TLC and the actor Orton appears on USA Network’s Shooter on Tuesday as James Richards, a former Navy SEAL who leads a militia group.
On Thanksgiving, Randy and wife Kim welcomed daughter Brooklyn Rose. “Everybody is doing great,” Orton said this week. “The baby is perfect. Mom is healthy. They came home on Thanksgiving so that was pretty cool.” Days earlier, Orton stepped out of character during the Survivor Series pay-per-view to check in with Shane McMahon’s sons in the front row after McMahon took a wicked spear. “He whacked his head pretty hard,” Orton said. “I knew where the family was. I didn’t think the camera was going to be on me. I wanted to reassure the kids that daddy’s OK and he will be fine.”
Orton also was wearing an orange bracelet to raise awareness for leukemia after his 5-year-old nephew T.J. was recently diagnosed. “He’s a little badass,” Orton said. “It’s going to be a long journey. That’s why I wear the bracelet and will continue to wear it.” As a third-generation wrestler, Orton has been steeped in the wrestling business by his grandfather, father and uncle. Now a father of five kids, Orton fully understands to how his kids react to seeing him in the ring, too. While promoting Shooter – which airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET after Smackdown – Orton talked family, wrestling, his new tag team partner and more with For The Win. His Shooter episode is part of WWE Week on USA with Raw on Monday (8 p.m. ET), Smackdown on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET) and the 14th annual Tribute to the Troops on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET).
LET’S TALK ABOUT “SHOOTER.” HOW DID THIS ROLE COME ABOUT FOR YOU?
I got an opportunity while I was out of action in the ring after shoulder surgery in December. I was a couple of months away from being cleared and was still at home. Basically, that made me one of the candidates. They talked to a couple of other guys and wanted to give me the opportunity. You don’t really get to audition. USA Network talks to our people and the network wanted me to play the role. It was really cool that they picked me. It does make you feel good. I was really impressed with the director. He was willing to work with me. I needed a little extra in terms of pointers because I’m not as experienced as the other actors. It was a great group of people. The crew was awesome. Ryan Phillippe was great. Just a man’s man. He talked to me on the same level. There was no big-leaguing anybody on the set.
You can listen to Randy’s interview by click here.
Back in his hometown for WWE’s Battleground PPV tomorrow night at Scottrade Center, WWE Superstar Randy Orton made a stop by Busch Stadium to talk some baseball and take in the St. Louis Cardinals game against the New York Mets tonight.
“I’ve seen so many locker rooms, so many arenas, but ballparks–not so much,” said Orton, who toured the clubhouse and team facilities after batting practice. “Their training facility was amazing. The rehab stuff they had was great.” Orton, who’s battled through shoulder and other injuries over the course of his WWE career, compared notes with several of the players on their own injuries. “Adams was telling me about his quad and how far out he is, how he’ll be able to swing in a couple of weeks,” relayed Orton. “As an athlete, you kind of do what you’ve got to do–you ice it, you do therapy, you see the doc and do what the doc says. You’ve got that hunger inside to come back so you know you’re eventually going to get back there.
“To see Matt Adams here, injured and on the DL but with all the boys here for support, here to be part of the team, one of the guys–it reminded me of how the WWE locker room is. It’s a band of brothers. Everyone kind of has each other’s back and you could feel that in there and it’s a good feeling.”
Recently engaged, Orton was joined by two of his three soon-to-be stepsons and seeing their excitement at meeting the ballplayers reminded him of the kids who meet the WWE superstars before events. It also took Randy back to his days growing up in North County and cheering for the Cardinals. “Ozzie Smith, that was my dude,” stated Orton. “With my schedule, it’s hard to keep up with everything. but to get kind of revitalized with the whole Cardinals and the baseball thing, and to come down here and meet everybody–I would say I’m a born-again fan. I’m going to have to get back into it.” It will be a family affair at Battleground for Orton, who is a third-generation wrestler. While his father, Cowboy Bob Orton, still frequents events and occasionally still climbs in the ring, it will be Momma Orton seated in the front row to watch her son take on Sheamus.