Conciliation or stretchers on standby?

Conciliation or stretchers on standby?

After seeing both Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton both carried out on gurneys following Hardy's death-defying Swanton Bomb on the WWE Champion last week, it looks like Mr. McMahon has seen enough. The Chairman had ordered these two bitter rivals to put aside their differences for one night tonight and shake hands in the middle of the ring.

Hardy and Orton's rivalry has grown increasingly personal and violent in the last few weeks. Will this Chairman-ordered attempt at a one-night truce prove successful or only fan the flames of Hardy and Orton's mutual hatred less than a week before they battle for the WWE Championship at Royal Rumble?

After finding himself in a most unfamiliar position -- on his back, in a neck brace and strapped to a gurney -- Orton may be taking Hardy's vow to "take him out" a lot more seriously.

After all, the legend-killing WWE Champion is used to sending opponents out on stretchers and not being carried out on one. But after Hardy crushed him with a breathtaking -- and borderline suicidal -- Swanton Bomb from 30 feet in the air on Raw last Monday, Orton knows two things: The Intercontinental Champion is a man of his word and will do anything -- including harm himself -- to avenge the self-proclaimed "one-man dynasty's" attack on his brother Matt. Who knows to what extremes Jeff Hardy will go to take Orton's WWE Championship at Royal Rumble on Jan. 27? (WATCH)

Path of Self-Destruction

However, some observers wonder whether Hardy did more harm to himself than Orton. The WWE Champion could have suffered more serious injuries from the Swanton Bomb, but somehow managed to walk away with only head and back trauma.

The extent of Hardy's alleged injuries last Monday are unknown; he reportedly staggered out of the medical facility before he could be evaluated. Maybe he was being reckless -- or perhaps he didn't want Orton to learn about his injuries. Either way, Hardy's behavior made the jaws of even his closest associates -- and most diehard fans -- drop.

Still, is Hardy more consumed with vengeance and injuring Orton than winning the WWE Championship? His messages to Orton in the last few weeks have been loud and clear and he could be living in the sadistic champion's head after using legend killing-esque tactics against him. But he could have severely injured -- and eliminated -- himself from his golden opportunity at Royal Rumble, and that would have brought an ear-to-ear grin to Orton's face.

Order of Protection

Making rivalries personal has been one of Orton's favorite tactics. As illustrated by his wars with John Cena, the Rhodes family and Shawn Michaels, among others, the third-generation Superstar likes to get inside his opponents heads, turning them crazed and self-destructive. Was Orton hoping that Hardy would wipe himself out of the WWE Title picture while attempting to avenge his brother Matt?

Less than a month ago, Orton and Hardy's scheduled match for Royal Rumble was solely about the WWE Championship. Now, it is about so much more. Maybe Mr. McMahon shouldn't being ordering a handshake between Hardy and Orton; it may not be possible for these two. Perhaps -- for both Superstars' safety -- they should be kept as far apart from one another before the Rumble. If not, WWE officials may want to have some more gurneys on standby.

Photos: Jeff's Gigantic Swanton Bomb on Orton

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

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