Should the WWE Universe trust The Viper?

The WWE Universe waited a long time to hear what Randy Orton would say in his first remarks following his long absence. Not one to mince words, The Viper rewarded their patience during his return to SmackDown last week by speaking candidly and saying all the right things.

“WWE is my life,” Orton said. “Every moment I’m away from Raw and SmackDown, it’s like a breath sucked out of my lungs.”

The words of WWE’s Apex Predator certainly came from the heart, but they also create a certain amount of dissonance between what the nine-time World Champion says and what he does in the ring. That’s not because he’s attempting to confuse the WWE Universe with easily misinterpreted statements. In fact, the third-generation Superstar has always chosen his sentiments very wisely and shares them succinctly.

However, actions speak louder than words — and the experiences Orton has endured during his WWE tenure may have taught The Viper to keep only his own best interests at heart.

Skepticism about the nature of the voices in the head of WWE’s Apex Predator starts with an anniversary of sorts that reminds the stoic warrior just how lonely it can be at the top. Eight years ago this month, Randy Orton became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in WWE history. One day later, he learned how jealousy can overtake his closest friends and mentors when his Evolution stablemates betrayed the new titleholder by turning The Viper’s championship celebration into a three-on-one beatdown. ( WATCH)

In case the moral of that story wasn’t clear, The Viper would receive that lesson in betrayal from a WWE Hall of Famer as well. His alliance with Edge resulted in a World Tag Team Title reign after the pair united behind their mutual disdain for D-Generation X. However, The Rated-R Superstar eventually turned his back on his Rated-RKO partner when their mutual interest in challenging for the WWE Championship proved to be too much of a distraction.

Orton showed the impressions those painful lessons left when he joined forces with fellow multi-generational Superstars Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. Calling themselves The Legacy, based on their common family heritage in the squared circle, Rhodes & DiBiase supported The Viper in his rivalry with the McMahon family and his later pursuit of the WWE Championship. But once Rhodes & DiBiase proved to be a liability to Orton’s chase of championship gold, they both found themselves on the wrong end of an RKO. ( WATCH)

Nearly a year after his last World Heavyweight Championship reign, Orton now finds himself back in the hunt for championship gold and greater glory. He crushed Heath Slater in his return to action on Raw and continued to build momentum with a dominating effort against Alberto Del Rio on SmackDown, but when and where will he select the next target of his aggression? Could he find another unlikely ally along the way in a current champion like Sheamus or a former one like Christian? Or will he merely lure another unwitting competitor along for his own benefit until it’s time for The Viper to strike?

Throughout his career, there has been undeniable truth in every word Randy Orton has ever said. Unfortunately, the whole truth is only available when WWE’s Apex Predator selects his next prey. Until then, should the WWE Universe proceed with caution before uniting behind a secretive Superstar whose long absence just gave him a second wind?

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