Is Randy Orton ready for WrestleMania? The Viper’s father, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, invites WWE.com into the mind of an Apex Predator

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March 25, 2014

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Getting into the complex mind of The Viper is a difficult thing — especially as he heads into one of the biggest matches of his career at WrestleMania 30 where he will defend his WWE World Heavyweight Title against Batista and either Triple H or Daniel Bryan.

Learn more about the WrestleMania 30 WWE World Heavyweight Title Match

To better understand one of WWE’s most enigmatic Superstars, I went to the man who created him, WWE Hall of Famer “Cowboy” Bob Orton. I have known Randy’s father since his pro debut in 1972. We met at a hotel on the outskirts of New York City to discuss his son’s game plan going into The Show of Shows and how the sports-entertainment legacy of the Orton family assured that The Viper truly was born better.

Everything you need to know about "Cowboy" Bob Orton

BILL APTER: Your son Randy is headlining WrestleMania 30 against Batista. If Randy was sitting here with you face-to-face, what advice would you give him on how to defeat The Animal?

“COWBOY” BOB ORTON: I would tell Randy you’re not going to out-strength him so you have to outsmart him, which I don’t think will be too tough to do, Bill. Don’t get me wrong, Batista is a good man and a good wrestler, but when I look at the complete picture I think that Randy is the better man. Batista’s been out there doing some Mixed Martial Arts and acting in a few movies. Now he’s got to try to beat the best World Champion ever?

APTER: How do you think Batista’s absence from WWE will affect him going into WrestleMania?

I think that Randy is the better man.ORTON: When you’re not in that ring every day you can’t exactly be on the same level of performance as far as I’m concerned. I am not totally sure that’s the case with Batista, but that is my feeling. He’s putting in his time now, wrestling pretty regularly in the weeks before the match, so that time off may not be as large of an issue by the time he gets to WrestleMania. I am sure the MMA training has kept him in excellent shape, but the question remains: Can he go against someone who lives in that ring regularly like Randy?

Watch Randy Orton and his father face The Undertaker in a Casket Match

APTER: We now know that either Triple H or Daniel Bryan will be added to the match. How would Randy deal with the legion of Daniel Bryan fans? That element could cause even a champion like your son to get pretty rattled.

ORTON: Daniel Bryan is the hottest thing to come along in quite a while with that “Yes!” Movement, but Randy is highly focused — more than most in that ring. I don’t think the fans’ chants would be able to take Randy off his game. Actually, I am sure of that. Keep in mind he is at his best when he is facing amazing odds.

APTER: Let’s look at the possibility of the Triple Threat Match pitting Randy against Batista and Triple H. How would he deal with that combination?

ORTON: Triple H is the COO of WWE. He is a suit-and-tie guy, but he still works out like a madman and never stops training. For Randy to underestimate him because he’s an office guy now would be a mistake. Hunter wants to prove he is still The Game and will do anything he can to make that point. If things look like they are going bad for him, he might call in that sledgehammer. I would advise Randy to be proactive and have a stipulation put in [stating that] the sledgehammer cannot be used during the match. With that out of the picture, Triple H becomes just another RKO victim along with Batista.

Check out rare and unseen photos of The Viper

APTER: Let’s talk about the Orton family’s sports-entertainment history. Your dad, “The Big O” Bob Orton Sr., was one of my favorite wrestlers when I was a kid. Tell us about him.

ORTON: My father was amazing. He was born in 1929 and in the late 1940s he was a high school athlete. He played football and a few other sports. Years later he started doing some training at the local Kansas City YMCA, just working out in the gym. It was the same place that wrestlers Sonny Myers and Orville Brown were training as well. He became friendly with them and began working out on the mat with them. He did this for quite a long time and they decided to give him a tryout in the ring. He made his pro debut in 1951. That was the beginning of the Orton family name in pro wrestling. He was an awesome sight at 6-foot-4 and around 235 lbs.

See "Cowboy" Bob Orton face Mr. T in a Boxing Match

APTER: How would you describe his ring style?

ORTON: If he moved one finger it meant something. Back in that era you didn’t have the flying styles you see so much today. It was more on-the-mat, surefooted wrestling. He was a great ring psychologist and he knew how to manipulate both his opponents and the crowd. I am here to tell you that nobody delivered a devastating piledriver like my father. It was bone-breaking and a beautiful thing to watch. He also used a lot of forearm smashes to nearly knock out his opponents. I sit back and watch some of his matches today and you can see he never wasted any motion. He was just really good and got the most out of whatever he did.

APTER: Did he train you?

ORTON: He did not. When he found out that I wanted to wrestle, he discouraged me so that I would do something else with my life. That was probably due to the pain he suffered from so many career injuries — the bad neck and shoulder operations he went through. He didn’t want me to have to go through those kinds of issues. Eventually, he gave in and sent me to the famed wrestler and trainer Hiro Matsuda in Florida. We were living there because my dad was wrestling in that territory. He saw my passion for this and came down at times and fine-tuned me a bit. It was a great time in my life. I worked out with classic mat wrestlers like Jack Brisco, Bob Backlund and others who would become legends in the business. It was the best education one could ask for.

APTER: How did your style differ from your father’s style?

ORTON: Wrestling had changed from that slower pace of my father’s time to more of an upbeat, faster style. That made the danger level go up, of course, and that made the injury level go up as well. I had to think faster on my feet because my opponents came at me faster. In my father’s days, guys had more time to size each other up and think a bit more. Today, the pace is so fast and the level of danger is so high, I don’t know how some of them do what they do so well.

APTER: What about Randy’s style? How does he differ from you and your father in the ring?

ORTON: He has blended the best of both his grandfather and me. He’s gotten so good that no one can touch him. He’s got it all from the Orton bloodline. He mixed the old with the new and that’s made him what he is today.

Read Bill Apter's take on WCW icon Sting

APTER: In your prime, how would you have wrestled and beaten today’s Randy Orton?

ORTON: Randy is very intense. He doesn’t know how to relax. I have tried to tell him to let his intensity work for him in the ring. You don’t have to be that intense all day long. I would try to get under his skin, make him make mistakes, tick him off. That way, with him not having level thinking, I would be able to take advantage and beat him. That’s the only way I would have a chance against him.

APTER: How would your father have done against him?

ORTON: Dad would have slowed him down somehow, but I think in the end Randy would have ended up winning.

APTER: Any further thought as we wrap up this interview?

ORTON: My son Randy is a winner and he is just scratching the surface of his greatness. I can’t wait to see what’s coming up for him in the future. He’s like WWE — great then, great now and great forever.

Follow Bill Apter on Twitter @apter1wrestling

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