Orton: 'Dusty Was a Steppingstone'

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July 25, 2007

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Raw locker room appeared deserted late Monday night. A mop sat in gray water in a lemon-yellow bucket. Besides the tick-tock of the clock, only the rolling wheels of the trash bin pushed by a maintenance worker murmured in the hallway.

When the maintenance worker made his way into the locker room, he gasped when Randy Orton greeted him with his pearly whites and a box. The box, labeled "TRASH" in big black Sharpie letters, contained a bull rope and a cow bell.

"You can add this to your pile, my good man," Orton said, patting the man on the shoulder. "I won't be needing these anymore. In fact, no one else will have much use for these, either."

Earlier that night, Orton had stunned our fans and other Superstars when he hospitalized the legendary "American Dream" with a kick that practically caved in his head. But if you thought Orton would have had a single bit of remorse or an ounce of regret, forget it. Dusty Rhodes was already old news to the third-generation star. Orton was already focused on a showdown with John Cena for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam on Aug. 26.

"It [injuring Dusty] had a lot to do with doing what I say I'm going to do," Orton said. "When I say I'm going to do something, I do it. When I say I'm going to accomplish something, I accomplish it. When I say I'm going to destroy a legend, I do it -- I end careers. And mark my words: I'm going to take John Cena's WWE Championship at SummerSlam."

Though Orton has put Dusty Rhodes behind him, our fans -- and some Superstars -- have not. Following Orton's attack, Dusty underwent a CAT scan, which revealed he suffered no brain damage. The Dream was lucky, especially since he had suffered a brutal blow to his skull from a cowbell in his Texas Bull Rope Match with Orton at The Great American Bash. Still, doctors have advised him to stay home in Austin, Texas and recover from his injuries.

Cody Rhodes, who watched in horror as his father was brutalized and fought back tears as his unconscious body was loaded into an ambulance, has remained by Dusty's side. As the son of a legendary Superstar (WWE Hall of Famer "Cowboy" Bob Orton Jr.) himself, Orton has a lot in common with the newcomer. Like Cody, Orton watched his father withstand brutal beatings in the ring and get sewn up with stitches to close bloody wounds.

But that's where the similarities between these two multi-generational Superstars end. Orton has washed his hands of Dusty's blood. Cody, he said, has no one to blame but himself for the American Dream's plight.

"I told him before we wrestled (on Raw) if he backed out, I would understand and leave him with whatever dignity he had left," Orton smirked. "He had a chance to walk away, and he didn't take it. So, do I feel any remorse? Do I feel any sorrow? No, not at all. I feel nothing for Cody and Dusty. What happened to him -- what happened to his old man -- was a result of being stupid and getting in the ring with the destroyer of legends."

And Orton hopes he will destroy a legend-in-the-making, WWE Champion John Cena. After sending Dusty to the hospital, he stunned Cena with an RKO from behind at the end of Raw. As Acting Raw GM Jonathan Coachmen announced that Orton was the new No. 1 contender to the WWE Championship, the Superstar's message became clear -- he was gunning for Cena and the most coveted trophy in sports-entertainment.

Orton, merely used Dusty Rhodes to make a point.

"Dusty Rhodes was a just a steppingstone to get closer to John Cena and make people believe that when I say something, I mean it," he said. "I do whatever it takes to get the job done, to show people that I'm serious about this business. I have had my eye on him from quite some time, but the time has never been right. I have had to prove myself in other ways to other people."

The third-generation star knows what's it's like to be a world champion. He became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in history at SummerSlam in 2004 -- only to lose the gold one month later. Orton has wanted another opportunity to be on top of the sports-entertainment world ever since. He insists his mind is sharp, that he's in peak physical condition and focused on only one thing: ending Cena's championship reign.

"I'm in great shape, in a great frame on mind," Orton said. "I know what I'm capable of. All I want right now is Cena's WWE Championship. I was champion once before. I know what it tastes like, and I will be champion again."

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