The long-running feud between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt was drastically altered this week when “The Viper” shockingly struck Kane with an RKO, even after the two had shown solidarity against The Wyatt Family in the weeks prior. Orton went on to explain his actions later in the night with one succinct and effective phrase, stating that “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” alluding to the prospect that the veteran has now taken to the dark side in allegiance with “The Eater of Worlds.”
Regardless of whether this is actually another heel turn for Randy Orton or if it goes beyond that, you’ve got to hand it to WWE for thinking outside the box on this one.
Up until this week’s broadcast, it looked like they were going down the tried and true method of using Kane to even the odds, after Luke Harper’s return at No Mercy stacked the numbers in Wyatt’s favor. This would have been the safe route to go down, but when it comes to truly leaving a mark in the minds of the fans, it would have been somewhat ineffective since we’ve seen it all before.
With some notable exceptions – i.e. Evolution, The Authority – it’s safe to say that Randy Orton has always worked better by himself, so to see him team up with “The Big Red Machine” felt unnatural. As such, Orton reverting back into his lone-wolf persona by attacking Kane was a breath of fresh air that should serve to help him sustain the build behind his ongoing feud with Wyatt.
This story has been built around mind games, so for Orton to double-cross the only guy with him in the foxhole has got to come as a surprise to Bray, who at this point would’ve thought he had Orton all figured out. But for Orton to further this change of attitude by supposedly professing his allegiance to Bray Wyatt is a huge development that few people seem to have anticipated.
That being said, all signs point towards this being Orton’s final attempt to get inside the psyche of Bray Wyatt as opposed to actually turning heel and joining him, which is totally fine.
We’ve seen something similar to this before, with Daniel Bryan being broken down and subsequently forced into joining the family, only to strike when the iron was hot and isolate “The New Face of Fear” from his Wyatt Family brethren so he could truly go to work on his nemesis.
The difference here is that it felt like Bryan was given no other choice back in 2014 but to don the dreaded overalls and stand alongside his enemies. Randy Orton is a different story, given that he had Kane by his side, deciding to throw it away and join The Wyatt Family virtually un-coerced.
The best explanation to justify Orton’s actions lie within the aura of The Wyatt Family itself.
Wyatt and Harper have been very magic-heavy over the last month with their implied ability to appear and disappear, as the case may be, and to do the same with other stars on the roster whenever they please. It seems whenever Orton has a chance to get one over on the tandem, they flash the vignette, turn out the lights and lo and behold, the advantage is lost.
Now, it would be really reaching to see Orton pulling this same cloak and dagger nonsense every week, but if his infiltration of the faction could actually prevent the use of such activities through further understanding of the ins and outs of the Wyatt Family mentality, that would provide an extreme sense of closure and interaction between two WWE Superstars that you don’t typically see.
Of course, it’s a scenario that relies on the belief that Bray Wyatt is actually capable of superhuman activities like vanishing and materializing at a moment’s notice, but it would add an enhanced sense of psychology to the feud that otherwise isn’t present in today’s WWE.
The risk here, should this be the motivation behind Orton’s decision to turn on “The Devil’s Favorite Demon,” is how the story progresses between Orton and Kane once the ruse has been revealed.
Traditionally, Kane is supposed to be one of the most vindictive and ferocious men in WWE history. He may not have been fuming about Orton’s actions on Talking Smack, instead somewhat laying the blame on himself for letting a man — whose own nickname defines him as a snake — fool him into a false sense of security, but you can’t expect Kane to take whatever punishment “The Viper” and The Wyatt Family has and will dish out over the next few weeks without putting up a fight.
Even after Orton inevitably overcomes Wyatt and walks into the sunset, Kane should be justifiably livid that Orton would do it at his expense. How WWE handles this will be very important.
Kane started off as a very small part of this rivalry but is quickly becoming one of the focal points, and as such, all loose ends will need to be tied up nicely when all is said and done – including his disdain for Orton. If this isn’t cleared up, why in all good conscious would the fans get back behind Orton as a babyface if he was willing to sacrifice a WWE veteran for his own gain?
For now, though, this development could add a really fun dynamic to SmackDown. Even if it’s short-lived, the chemistry of Orton and Wyatt against one another has been so good that it should be even better on the same page for a while. The better the relationship, the more rewarding the inevitable double-cross will be, so their interactions will be pivotal going forward from this point.
There’s a lot of potential here to create an enthralling tale unlike any other right now, so with the right level of investment, Orton’s allegiance to The Wyatt Family could be extremely riveting.