Orton and Flair: Two of the same kind?
Who would have thought one question would heed so much disdain from WWE Champion Randy Orton? It was a simple inquiry from WWE.com: What type of person does it take to look someone like Ric Flair -- a Legend among Legends -- squarely in the eyes, drown him in thanks and then volunteer to be the person to officially end Flair's famed career.
That's what Orton did immediately following an announcement Mr. McMahon made to Flair in front of the "Nature Boy's" hometown crowd of Charlotte, N.C. The Chairman coldly told Flair that the first match he loses will end his WWE career, and the crafty WWE Champion was on hand to have first dibs.
Orton's insidious itch to end yet another legend's career was thwarted, however, by Chris Jericho. Without the ability to officially interfere -- which would have caused a disqualification and therefore awarded the match to Orton -- Jericho simply distracted the WWE Champion, allowing Flair to score a low blow into a roll-up for a typical Ric Flair-style victory.
At his locker following his match with Flair, Orton gathered his belongings and shoved them haphazardly into a suitcase. He wore no expression. He was quiet, but knowing Orton, his insides burned realizing he lost the opportunity to send Flair packing in such an untimely fashion.
"Obviously, we all know that without Chris Jericho sticking his nose into my business, Flair would be out of here," Orton snapped. "But I'll get to Jericho at Armageddon, trust me. What he did on Raw will not be forgotten."
He continued. "As for your question about Flair -- ‘What type of person does it take to say those things to Flair and then offer to end his career?' -- tell me this: How did Ric Flair make a name for himself in this industry?" he asked.
The third-generation Superstar's voice raised and his demeanor shifted into a more aggressive stance. "Why is it when Ric Flair does whatever it takes to get ahead and earns the name ‘Dirtiest Player in the Game,' it's OK. He gets cheered, people love him. Then when I do it, I'm faulted for it? I'm the villain?"
Orton slipped into his black leather shoes and slid his arms into a black dress shirt. He had reverted to being calm -- momentarily. Seconds later, a thud rattled the room. The metal chair that once rested in front of Orton's locker had been heaved across the room into a row of lockers. Its metal frame vibrated and offered the only noise besides his heavy breathing. He eyed the lifeless metal.
"The same thing I'm doing isn't all that different from what Ric Flair did 20 years ago," he said through clinched teeth. "I'm an opportunist; Flair was an opportunist. But he's a celebrated opportunist and I'm a jerk."
A few minutes of silence ensued. As Orton fastened the final buttons at the top of his shirt, he paused and let out a sigh. His hands found their way to his hips and he dropped his head back and peered skyward. Another sigh, louder this time.
"And I don't want to read that cliché, ‘Randy Orton doesn't respect anyone' stuff tomorrow on WWE.com. Don't even bother writing that crap," he said with a glare.
"Do I respect Ric Flair?" he asked rhetorically. "Yeah, I guess I do. But let me pose this question to you: Does Ric Flair respect me and what I've accomplished? The truth is, it doesn't matter one way or the other because I have this," he said pointing to his title. "This WWE Championship proves that I'm the best, and there is no arguing that."
Orton pulled the zippers on his suitcase, grabbed his coat and walked toward the locker room door, propped open before him. He appeared to have regained his composure. Uneasiness filled the room and he half-turned toward the center of it.
"It's about making yourself the best in this industry; there's no time to worry about the casualties you leave in your wake. Flair is the perfect example of that. This is an individual business, plain and simple," Orton explained. "I don't need, want or care about anyone's respect as long as I can look in the mirror at night and respect myself for doing whatever it takes to stay at the top of this game."
With that, Orton pushed the door open and dragged his suitcase behind him. The door shut quietly as the room was filled with silence. The metal chair in the middle of the room, on its side and dented, lay motionless in the center of the floor.