Relive The Beast Incarnate's savage return in this slow-motion video, captured during the Jan. 16, 2017 edition of Raw.01/18/2017 - 17:00
Looking over his shoulder
After seeing the fire in Jeff Hardy's eyes -- watching the extremes he was willing to go to in his victory over the mighty Umaga in a Steel Cage Match on Raw last week -- WWE Champion Randy Orton may be watching over his shoulder.
It appears that Orton's plan to crush Jeff's mind and body before their title match at Royal Rumble has backfired. Despite repeated interference from the Legend Killer last week -- and with Orton's brutal attack on his brother Matt heavily on his mind -- Jeff Hardy still managed to emerge victorious against Umaga. Earlier that night, the Intercontinental Champion had literally revealed his mindset and intentions when he said, "Randy Orton, you wanted to kick Matt in the head? Well, I got a message back for you -- I'm taking your title at the Royal Rumble and before then, I'm taking you out." (WATCH)
Later that night, Jeff showed Orton he meant business, making Connecticut's sold-out Mohegan Sun Arena gasp with his backward, spiraling dive off the top of the steel cage. The "Rainbow-haired Warrior" landed on top of Umaga to end the match. As the Intercontinental Champion stood atop the 15-foot high steel cage, Orton looked on in disbelief. Amazement seemed to melt into concern -- maybe worriment -- as reality crept into the eyes of the self-proclaimed "one-man dynasty": My God, he's crazy. He's really is coming after me and the title. (WATCH)
Head and Shoulders Above the Rest
Over the past year, Orton has relied on getting inside his opponents' heads and making their rivalries personal in order to win psychological battles and ultimately, wars within the squared circle. It had always been taboo to attack opponents' families; as a third-generation Superstar, Orton knew that more than anyone. But he torched that barrier with his attacks on the Rhodes and Cena families.
However, Orton's tactics haven't seemed to work on Jeff Hardy. While Orton has watched rivals crumble into a blind rage in the past, his personal attack has only fired-up the daredevil and made Jeff apparently channel his own rage. It has also brought out a new, intense side to the normally laid-back Intercontinental Champion. Before Orton's attack on Matt Hardy, when had you ever heard Jeff threaten to take someone out? Never.
Despite the look on his face last Monday on Raw, the WWE Champion dismissed Jeff Hardy's threat and impressive victory over Umaga.
"Jeff's going to take me out?" Orton asked. "No, I think he's suffering from an identity crisis. In case you haven't heard already, Jeff, I'm the one who takes people out. By the way, how's Matt feeling?
Orton then looked down at his WWE Championship and petted the crest.
"You think Jeff Hardy is focused?" he asked. "You think he's unstoppable? Think again -- just like he was when he pinned me in a tag team match several weeks, he was lucky against Umaga. But he won't be lucky against this one-man dynasty at the Royal Rumble. His luck will run out."