Prior to this Sunday’s WrestleMania, Yahoo Sports had a chance to speak with WWE Superstar Randy Orton, who will be headlining the event in Orlando, Florida when he takes on Bray Wyatt for the WWE Championship. Orton, who has been with the company since 2002, has been one of the most popular wrestlers on the WWE roster and has had one of the most decorated careers in the company’s history. During our conversation, the third-generation star spoke about the differences between this WrestleMania and the previous 12 he has competed in, the Undertaker’s legacy at the event, and the evolution of the WWE throughout his career.
Heading into WrestleMania 33, you have been part of these for more than a decade now, how is this one different?
Randy Orton: This will be my 13th match at a WrestleMania, and I’d say one of the biggest differences for me going into this thing is how it came about. This storyline, being injured last year and coming back, having a little run with [Brock] Lesnar kind of put me back a few steps. I got a nasty concussion, got opened up, I had to get my feet back underneath me so to speak and get back used to the grind. [That opportunity] came with the Wyatt Family and what makes this WrestleMania different is that I’ve had five or six months, since October anyway, to let this story marinate.
At first I could tell peopled weren’t getting with the whole Wyatt Family thing where I became a part of their family because they knew I was going to turn and we knew that they knew that. To be able to pull those strings, make this thing go longer than expected, to win the [Smackdown] Tag Team Championships with Bray [Wyatt], and then next get [Luke Harper] kicked out of the family, get Bray alone, burn down his compound. All of that stuff that we had to do to get this storyline where it is, all of that helps it going into ‘Mania. Where we’re at in the story is the perfect culmination for WrestleMania. I think that’s what makes it different for me. I’ve had other very good angles going into ‘Mania, long storylines too, but this was different than normal from the way we do things, it wasn’t bad versus good. I infiltrated the Wyatt Family, I became close to Bray, I earned his trust and respect and to ultimately stab a knife into his back, turn on him, it was a very original thing that we did.
You mention the Wyatt Family. Being in a stable is something you’ve done at different parts of your career with Evolution and Legacy. Do you prefer when you’re working in a group or solo heading into an event like WrestleMania?
Randy Orton: I always prefer being by myself, but if you look at the teams I’ve been in, Evolution, I don’t even have to say who I was with [HHH, Ric Flair, Batista] then because everybody knows and I was around some great talent. Hunter, for instance, I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for him, in more ways than one. Being around those guys and learning from them that early in the business for me was great.
Rated RKO with Edge was another example of a guy who knows his craft. It was an awesome way for a guy – I was in my mid-20s then – to learn. Then I’m with Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase in Legacy. These are both guys whose families were in the business just like me so I had this commonplace with them; we all grew up around the business. Cody’s brother [Dustin Runnels aka Goldust] had this bond the same way my father [“Cowboy” Bob Orton] and his brother [Barry Orton] had their bond in this business. To be able to have those similarities with your team is really good. You can do great things when you’re all on the same page and “get it” so to say.
Bray is third generation, might be through marriage, but he’s got a whole lot of wrestling greats in his family and again, another guy that I can see eye to eye with when it comes to psychology, when it comes to respect for the business and when it comes to not being selfish when it comes to the match and getting everybody over. Bray gets it. I think that being with these groups is great, I prefer being alone, but without these groups I wouldn’t be where I am.
Bray Wyatt versus Luke Harper in a Non Title Match
Winner: Bray Wyatt
After the match: Randy Orton appears on the TitanTron and he is on ‘hallowed ground. You claim Sister Abigail made you Lord Of Lords. All seeing, all knowing, all powerful. You think you have won? As he strikes this symbol of the apocalypse, he ends Sister Abigail and seals his fate at Wrestlemania. Randy says nothing will stand in his way.
WrestleMania 33 is just over one week away – coming at us live from the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, April 2nd. Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg will collide once again, this time with Goldberg’s Universal Championship on the line, while Roman Reigns is set to square off against The Undertaker. In another huge match, Randy Orton will challenge Bray Wyatt for the WWE World Championship in a match that’s sure to be filled with violent mind games galore. So far, Orton’s torched Bray’s sister’s remains while Bray himself has covered himself in his ashes and pronounced himself reborn. Yeah, it’s gonna get weird. I spoke to Randy Orton about his big title match at WrestleMania, his long-running storyline with the Wyatt Family, the popularity of the RKO, and more.
IGN: Unfortunately, you missed WrestleMania 32 last year in Dallas. It must feel good to not only be back at ‘Mania, but to be in a world title match.
Randy Orton: Yeah, you know it’s never nice to miss a WrestleMania and that’s the first one I’ve missed since I started here. I think WrestleMania XX would have been my first one, yes, and then I had 12 in a row. Twelve years in a row. So it did suck to miss last year’s but I had an injury and, on one hand, it was kind of nice to go to WrestleMania in that big of a venue — I think there were close to a hundred thousand people there, I’m not positive — but it was great to go because I got to just go there as a fan. I hadn’t really been keeping track of what was going on with the build to the show so it was exciting to see. I brought my family and we had a great time. I got to bring them into the ring on the Saturday before ‘Mania. We took pictures of them posing on the ropes. They’ll never forget that. So that was nice, but it still hurt to miss performing on it.
I’ve been back since last July and it was a rocky start when I came back from my injury. I had Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam and he’s a machine right there. I got a concussion, got split open, blood all over the place. It kind of put me back a few steps. It took a couple months to get my feet under me again. then I got to doing this thing with the Wyatt Family and I don’t remember having this much fun in the ring in a long time. Messing with them. The mind games. The promos. Tagging with Bray. Tagging with Luke. And being a part of the Wyatt Family threw me back into that heel element that I love so much and had missed for a very long time. It’s no secret that I would prefer to be a heel, night and day, over being a babyface. And it was nice to get that little taste of being a heel again. And now I’ve kind of switched back over, so to speak. I still want to walk that line and be as much of a bad guy that I can be while still doing my job well. To answer your question, we’re going into WrestleMania and it’s been two years for me and I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to bringing the kids, all five children, and their going to watch their father whip Bray Wyatt’s ass. Instead of going to it with them as a fan, I get to possibly main event it with them sitting in the front row. So personally, it’s a huge victory.
Baron Corbin versus Randy Orton
They lock up and Orton with a side head lock but Corbin with a shoulder tackle. Orton goes for an RKO but Corbin escapes and goes to the floor. Corbin returns to the ring and they lock up again. Corbin with a forearm on the break and he follows with another forearm. Orton sends Corbin to the mat and then he stomps on the hand. Orton with the Garvin stomp. Orton sends Corbin into the turnbuckles and he connects with European uppercuts. Orton punches Corbin on the turnbuckles. Orton with a back elbow and Corbin goes to the floor. Orton grabs Corbin by the hair but Corbin sends Orton into the ring post. We are back and Corbin gets a near fall. Corbin with an elbow to the collarbone and then applies a half nelson and chin lock. Orton gets to his feet and he punches Corbin but Corbin punches back. Corbin goes to the floor on an Irish whip and returns with a clothesline and he gets a near fall. Corbin punches Orton and then he has something to say to Orton. Orton with a boot and then he connects with two clotheslines and then he avoids a clothesline from Corbin. Corbin knows the power slam is coming so Corbin holds on to the ropes. Corbin goes to the floor and he comes back and runs into a power slam.
Orton with a full nelson slam and he gets a near fall. Orton sets for the IEDDT but Corbin pulls Orton to the floor. Orton sends Corbin into the ring steps and apron. Corbin is sent into the steps again. Orton wtih a kick and he hits the IEDDT as he blows a kiss to the Wrestlemania sign. Orton looks around as he gets ready to twist to the mat for the RKO. Orton pounds the mat and as he sets for the RKO, Corbin counters with Deep Six and he gets a near fall.
Orton goes to the floor and Corbin follows. Corbin goes for a shoulder tackle on the floor and Orton moves. Corbin hits the ring steps but they get back into the ring. The crowd is focused on the ramp and stage area. Dean Ambrose is on a forklift and Orton with an RKO for the three count.
Winner: Randy Orton
Backstage: Randy Orton is with Renee Young in the back and he is asked about Bray Wyatt’s comment. Randy says he does not have an answer. When he bathed himself in Sister Abigail’s ashes, that was the last thing he expected. The lights flicker and Renee knows that it is best to leave. Randy wants Bray to show himself. We see a series of people in lamb masks around Orton and Orton gets in a few shots but they eventually subdue him. Bray enters the room and he baptizes Orton. He tells Randy that he exposed his one flaw, Abigail. That one flaw will become his greatest strength. She is with him and that power lives inside of him. Purging that one fatal flaw is more than Bray could ever imagine. Bray thanks Randy and he sings.
Randy Orton makes his way to the ring and he is wearing pants. Randy says you can learn a lot from a viper. They are cunning, fearless, and ruthless. They attack when the timing is perfect. Randy says he has been waiting in the grass for months. He could have attacked Bray whenever he wanted, but an RKO would not be enough and it would be too easy. He thought about how to hit him the hardest and he decided to join Bray. He came up with a plan to be part of his family. Randy says he earned Bray’s trust, but the venom in his veins got deeper and deeper. If you can’t beat them . . . join them. When the timing is right . . . screw them. Randy says he needed to be more sadistic than ever. He had to destroy the one thing that Bray loved. That thing is Sister Abigail. As that fired burned and he heard her screams, Randy says he could feel Bray’s power being stripped away. The new face of fear had fear written across his face.
The one thing that Bray fears is being alone and now he is alone. Randy says he has one more step to climb and he needs to finish what he started. Randy says that he swears to God and he will take everything from Bray Wyatt. Bray appears on the TitanTron and he says that Randy is absolutely right about him. He was naked and stripped of his powers until he found his way home, or what is left of it. You thought you burned the soul of Sister Abigail and so did he. Sister Abigail is the spawn of Satan and was forged in hell. She still beats in the black hearts of all of her apostles and she has provided him with her power. Bray says it is his duty to purge all of the infidels in this life and he will start with Randy Orton. She lives through him now. Bray says he is born again and in her ashes he baptizes himself. Bray rubs the essence of Sister Abigail on his body and he says Follow the Buzzards.
Backstage: Renee Young is outside Randy Orton’s locker room and she asks him about what he did last week. Randy says after what he did to Bray’s compound, who knows what will he do tonight. Orton says that AJ is Phenomenal, but Orton says he is one RKO from Wrestlemania. Orton says that if he was AJ, he would be afraid. He suggests that AJ . . . RUN.
AJ Styles versus Randy Orton in a Number One Contender Match for the WWE Title Match at Wrestlemania
They circle each other after the bell rings and then Styles charges at Orton and Orton moves. Orton goes for an RKO but Styles escapes and goes to the floor. Orton points to the Wrestlemania sign. Styles returns to the ring and they lock up. Orton backs Styles into the corner and Orton with a clean break with some help from the referee. Styles with a side head lock and Styles holds on when Orton tries to send him off the ropes. Orton with a belly-to-back suplex and Styles holds on. Orton with a shoulder tackle that staggers Styles and he has trouble getting back to his feet. Styles with a kick and punches followed by shoulders in the corner. Orton with a hard Irish whip and then Orton stomps on the back and he continues with the Garvin Stomp. Orton drops Styles on the top rope and he gets a near fall when Styles gets his hand on the rope. Orton sends Styles into the turnbuckles and follows with a European uppercut and he kicks Styles and chokes him in the corner.Orton punches Styles but Styles kicks Orton in the leg. Styles with more kicks to the leg and Orton goes into the corner. Orton with an Irish whip and then Orton with an exploder. Styles goes to the floor and Orton follows. Orton with a backdrop driver onto the ringside barrier. Orton sends Styles back into the ring and Styles clips Orton as he enters the ring.