News broke late yesterday afternoon that WWE Superstar Randy “Please Accept Me” Orton was suspended by the WWE for his second violation of the dreaded Wellness Policy.
Wrestling forums, message boards, blogs and websites were flooded yesterday with articles and posts about yet another dark turn in the career of “The Viper.” Meanwhile an entirely new river was created on the planet from the tears shed by Ortonites the world over.
*Note: Mr. Morris would like to take the opportunity to express his deepest sympathy to @RKOsNumba1Fan and @VipersOracle (shameless plug). He would also like to say hello to Shane H. and the Hit the Ropes Radio crew (shameless plug). Please visit The Color Commentator, because it’s still real to them too, dammit!
This type of opportunity doesn’t come often in the realm of pro wrestling. Superstars take time off for various reasons, but the perfect storm where a major star involved in a major storyline is forced to take time off only comes every so often.
Orton’s suspension, initially seeming like a huge blow to the WWE, is actually an opportunity for the next top star to figuratively and literally take the ball he dropped and run with it.
Fans of sports entertainment should spend the next 60 days hopeful that several of their favorite “under-pushed” and “ill-utilized” superstars step up to the plate, grab the bull by the horns, and strike while the iron is hot.
In other words, somebody should take Orton’s time off to prove that they’re more capable and trustworthy of being Smackdown’s most recognizable face (sorry Sheamus).
The next 60 days should be sobering for Randy Orton and the superstars on the Smackdown roster.
One can imagine that a superstar’s second violation of the Wellness Policy is harrowing by itself. We’ve yet to see any athlete score the infamous third strike which would see them released from the company for at least one year.
Much like former superstar Jeff Hardy and the recently suspended Rey Mysterio, Randy is staring into the abyss of a yearlong exile from the WWE. If the company or the business means anything to him, he will more than likely spend this time to heal injuries and think of ways to avoid getting that third strike.
There is of course another option that would be interesting for the business on the whole…
The dark clouds created by Orton’s suspension also come with at least one silver lining. His two month absence from the WWE gives the rest of the roster the golden opportunity to fill the void that has been created by his temporary and involuntary departure.
Some fans make it a weekly habit to accuse the WWE of holding back certain stars for a myriad of reasons. It is not very often, however, that fans aim their venomous barbs at the athletes who, growing comfortable in the position in the company, tend to coast through matches and high profile feuds.
Despite the best wishes and well-intentioned desires of the fans, wrestlers are utilized to be and do certain things on a given roster. The superstars who look to break out of those restrictive walls created by the “system” MUST prove to Vince McMahon, the booking team and the creative writers that they have earned the opportunity to occupy a major spot in the company.
CM Punk has notoriously spent most of his WWE career fighting individuals who expected him to be another wrestler in the company long enough for a cup of coffee. Many years later he’s not only gracing the cover of the WWE ’13 video game, but he’s also getting his first WWE produced DVD (think of how many outstanding superstars that DON’T have one…Kurt Angle…).
Chris Jericho is another superstar that had a lot to prove in the WWE to naysayers inside and outside of the company. His popularity and intellect have made him one of THE most preeminent athletes and entertainers in professional wrestling today.
Most fans can easily agree that Kofi Kingston is a superstar that deserves some time in the sun, and while he’s currently enjoying success as a tag team champion with R-Truth, now would be an excellent opportunity for him to show the suits that he can shoulder the weight of being a top star in the WWE.
Can Kofi actually do that?
Ironically enough his last taste of the main event spotlight was opposite Randy Orton in October 2009. Between that time and now Kofi has been an Intercontinental Champion, U.S. Champion, and Tag Team Champion. What he’s most remembered for is the tag team he formed with Evan Bourne, who is also currently serving out a 60 day suspension for violating the Wellness Policy.
Even though Kofi is still fairly young in his career with many more opportunities ahead of him, he still has to prove to higher ups in the company that he’s worth the money it would take to make him one of the major players in the WWE. Despite his athletic abilities and his rapport with the younger fans, what logical reason exists that would justify placing him in the main event picture over someone like Cody Rhodes?
We’ve got two months to find out the answer to that question.
Let’s view Orton’s suspension as the perfect time for the product to be refreshed and revitalized with a new face or faces. Whether we see Orton return with a new focus and determination, or we witness the rise of the newest superstar that captures our attention and hearts (and dollars), we’re in for one hell of a ride no matter how we look at it.