What a difference a week made for Randy Orton.
An evil smile crept across the WWE Champion's lips as he headed to the locker room last Monday on Raw. He had left his Survivor Series opponent, Shawn Michaels, lying down following a vicious RKO during their face-off. He could have punted him in the skull and sidelined him again, but Mr. McMahon stopped him. (WATCH)
It was the first time Orton had smiled in almost two months -- for five weeks, HBK had tormented him with force-fed helpings on Sweet Chin Music, and he didn't like the taste at all. That's why Orton persuaded Raw GM William Regal to ban Sweet Chin Music at Survivor Series.
Now, with HBK's most lethal move out of the picture and a reminder sent to all of WWE about why he is called the "Legend Killer," Orton is supremely confident going into Survivor Series. Just when observers predicted the end of his title reign, Orton has seized the momentum from Michaels and believes he will have no trouble leaving Survivor Series with his WWE Championship.
And Orton has reason to be confident. Under the stipulation, if HBK uses, or attempts to use, his lethal trademark move, he will be disqualified and never get another opportunity at Orton's WWE Title. The third-generation Superstar has severely handicapped Michaels. Sweet Chin Music has been his golden ticket for most of his career as he has won three out of his four world championships with it. And the only time he didn't win with it -- during the infamous "Montreal Screwjob" in 1997 -- was mired in controversy. In addition, Orton has shined at Survivor Series. He has never been pinned in four appearances at the annual event.
But don't count-out The Showstopper. Michaels has proven that he can be very resourceful. HBK has previously baffled opponents by changing his strategy. In his WWE Iron Man Match at WrestleMania XII, he surprised Hart when he matched him, move-for-move, in a ground-based game plan instead of using the aerial assault the Hit Man expected. He surprised his critics with his Street Fighting acumen in wars with Diesel, Mankind and Triple H.
And more than anything, Michaels is fueled by revenge against Orton at Survivor Series. He desperately wants to give the WWE Champion his comeuppance for trying to end his career six months ago. HBK is also aware that the Legend Killer cannot get himself disqualified at Survivor Series, like he did at Cyber Sunday, or he will lose the WWE Championship. The Showstopper's ring savvy is sometimes overlooked. Could he use every trick he knows to get revenge on Orton?
Randy Orton can smile for now. He has reminded everyone in WWE, especially HBK, that he is a threat to his career. But the Legend Killer may have backed Shawn Michaels into a corner -- and that can make The Showstopper very dangerous this Sunday at Survivor Series.