Randy's twist of fate just days away?

Randy's twist of fate just days away?

HAMPTON, Va. -- Before he won the WWE Championship, Randy Orton often called himself a "man of destiny." As a third-generation Superstar, he said he was destined for greatness -- destined to hold sports-entertainment's most coveted prize.

But tonight, less than a week before a highly anticipated championship match at Royal Rumble, a Twist of Fate from Jeff Hardy showed Orton that their destinies may be intertwined. One Twist of Fate may have forced the Legend Killer to realize that Jeff Hardy could be destined to take his WWE Championship away. Jeff Hardy's dream come true could become Orton's nightmare -- and reality -- this Sunday at Royal Rumble. (Watch the Twist of Fate)

A miracle

At the start of the night, our fans at the Hampton Coliseum were still abuzz over Hardy's 30-foot Swanton Bomb onto Orton from last week's Raw. Though the Intercontinental Champion and WWE Champion were carried away on gurneys, it was a miracle that both men escaped serious injury. But Mr. McMahon, perhaps fearful that Hardy and Orton would demolish each other before the Royal Rumble, ordered the two to put aside their differences for one night and shake each other's hand in the ring.

In a rare show of a semblance of respect, Orton suggested to Hardy that he may have underestimated him when he first emerged as his challenger. Unlike others he has pushed aside en route to the top -- greats such as John Cena, Triple H and Shawn Michaels -- Hardy had never previously held the WWE Championship. Orton believed Hardy hadn't come close to winning the title. He never really considered the six-time World Tag Team Champion a true threat. But Hardy, Orton said, opened his eyes with his gigantic Swanton Bomb last week. (Relive Hardy's 30-foot Swanton Bomb in this video)

"I'm glad you did it, Jeff," Orton said. "You proved to me you are a threat. You did something to me last week that no one has ever done before. I can't close my eyes without seeing the image of you crashing down on me play in my head. ... You won't win the WWE Championship this Sunday. But you've already earned something much more important -- my respect."

Three strikes

Arguably, Randy Orton's first mistake was made weeks ago, when he underestimated Jeff Hardy.

After all, Hardy has been focused on realizing his childhood dream -- winning the WWE Title -- for months. That focus and determination enabled the high-flying Superstar to defeat Triple H at Armageddon and become Orton's challenger at the Rumble. The self-proclaimed "one man dynasty's" second mistake was making their rivalry personal. Unlike Orton's previous challengers, Hardy was able to channel that rage. He was able use it to send dangerous -- and painful -- messages to the WWE Champion, one of which was a borderline suicidal Swanton Bomb.

Orton's third mistake was made tonight when he put out his hand and thought Hardy was interested in having his respect. The eyes of the Cameron, N.C., native, who has grown up before our fans' eyes over the course of a decade, burned lasers through Orton. Was he reliving Orton kicking his brother Matt in the head? Was his mind's eye replaying his dive onto the WWE kingpin? Orton looked stunned when Hardy spurned him, shook the hands of Lilian Garcia, Jerry "The King" Lawler, Jim Ross and even ringside fans -- and then left him on his back with a thud.

Men of destiny

The rafters of the Hampton Coliseum shook. This was not the Jeff Hardy that first debuted in WWE more than a decade ago. This wasn't the same daredevil that revolutionized tag team wrestling with his brother Matt. This was a man determined to realize his dream and carve his legacy.

As Orton lay semi-conscious, Hardy's legion of fans knew they may have seen a glimpse of the future -- the fate of two Superstars. It may not be a miracle that brings Jeff Hardy the WWE Championship this Sunday at Royal Rumble, but a stunning Twist of Fate. It may be his destiny.

 Check out Orton's new Oblivion T-shirt at WWE Shop!

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