'R' for RKO ... R for respect

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February 29, 2008

Sometimes you have to wonder whether Randy Orton feels like a forgotten champion.

Yes, he is always in the crosshairs because every Superstar wants the golden trophy around his waist, the WWE Championship. And yes, he will be defending the title in a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania XXIV against Triple H and John Cena. But Orton could barely contain the quizzical look and muted disbelief in his eyes when The Game and Cena faced off during last week's WrestleMania Photo-Op on Raw and appeared to forget -- albeit briefly -- that he was there. And the self-proclaimed "One-Man Dynasty" is not one to be ignored.

"Guys, guys, you can talk all the trash you want, but one thing remains the same -- I am still the WWE Champion," he said. "And at the end of WrestleMania the result will be the same: I'm going to walk in WWE Champion, and I'm going to walk out WWE Champion. What's the expression, John? ‘The Champ is HERE!"

Orton got dumped out of the ring by Triple H and Cena for his trouble. But when Triple H and Cena turned their focus back on each other, Orton made them pay and left them facedown with a pair of RKOs. His message was simple: Don't ever forget about me. I am the WWE Champion. You better focus on me. I'm WWE Champion now and will still be the champion after WrestleMania. (WATCH)

Family Pride

It's no secret that the Legend Killer has reviled in his sadism and "by-any-means" approach to keeping the WWE Championship. From low blows to blatant slaps to referees, Orton hasn't cared how he has held on to the title. All that matters to him at the end of the day is that he's still WWE Champion.

But has WrestleMania XXIV stoked a fire in Orton? The third-generation Superstar has competed at several WrestleManias, but this is the first time he is headlining The Granddaddy of Them All as WWE Champion. Though, Randy's father, WWE Hall of Famer Bob Orton, Jr., played a key role in the success of the first WrestleMania, he never headlined sports-entertainment's greatest event. Randy is doing something his father never did -- and deep down, that has to make him very proud.

And it may also motivate him.

Ready for his WrestleMania Moment

With two of WWE's greatest Superstars -- and his most persistent rivals -- facing him on The Grandest Stage of Them All, Orton may want to prove a point. He knows that vanquishing both Cena and Triple H at WrestleMania XXIV would erase all doubt that he is indeed a one-man dynasty. Orton knows that he could etch his place in history and build his growing legacy if he turned back the challenge of Cena and The Game in Orlando, Fla. Match Preview | Video

"Randy's heard all the critics. Normally, he wouldn't care what people think," one Orton confidante said under the condition of confidentiality. "But he's tired of Cena. He's tired of Triple H. Everyone presumed Cena was going to walk out of No Way Out with the title. It didn't happen."

"Everyone thinks it's a foregone conclusion that either Triple H or Cena's gonna be WWE Champion when the smoke clears at WrestleMania," the confidante continued. "Randy knows he can make the biggest statement of his career at WrestleMania. We'll see if the so-called ‘experts' will continue doubting him when he walks out of Orlando still the champ."

So perhaps Triple H and Cena should beware. WrestleMania may bring out the best in Orton -- and he's ready to give them a moment in Orlando that they'll never forget.

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