WWE champion Randy Orton is normally not much of an interesting follow on Twitter. Sometimes he’ll express a thought of his own, but for insight into his personality, you’re not usually getting it there. That changed over the weekend.
Rip Rogers, one of Orton’s original trainers in former WWE farm system Ohio Valley Wrestling, posted a note criticizing modern independent wrestling. Feeling matches have become too rote and needlessly flashy, he laid out a template of how he sees the average indie match, with a heavy emphasis on dives to the floor. Orton quoted the tweet on Saturday morning, snarkily agreeing in the process:
After some negative reaction, Orton made the call to fan the flames with an “apology.”
Wrestlers like indie legend Low-Ki (formerly Kaval in WWE) and rising star Ryan Smile took issue with Orton’s remarks:
If that wasn’t enough, Orton insulted former WWF star Bubba Ray Dudley (now Bully Ray) when he tried to join in on the fun. That resulted in Bubba’s girlfriend, wrestler Velvet Sky, telling Orton that it was “a dick thing to say.” When a fan attempted to counter the tweets at Bubba with a dig of his own about Orton “flopping” as champion, Orton brushed it off.
A lot has been made in recent years of Orton “growing up.” He’s supposedly no longer the immature hellraiser who did time after a bad conduct discharge from the Marines for going AWOL, threw tantrums over botched match finishes on live television, shot fireworks at a coworker’s car, poured tanner on a coworker’s pure, called a fan “Latino Miss Piggy,” overdosed on pills, and so on. After a divorce from his first wife Samantha Speno, whom he’s credited with saving his life during the overdose, he remarried and has become a stepfather, taking in his wife Kim Marie Kessler’s three kids.
It’s entirely possible that Orton has matured. He could still be a great dad and more stable locker room presence, while still being, well, kind of an ass. But it’s hard to read Orton’s “apology” and not wonder what exactly triggered that specific screed. It’s one thing to not like a certain style of wrestling like Rogers’s, but why tear down the entire independent wrestling business?
The indie shows Orton’s boohooing do consistently better business than they have in a long time, if ever, to the point where there are probably more full-time wrestlers in the United States right now than there have been since the deaths of ECW and WCW in 2001. It sometimes requires quite a bit of hustle and weekends full of flights if you want to maximize your income, but being an indie star right now means creative freedom, good pay, and promoters who pay transportation and lodging expenses, unlike WWE. It’s a viable alternative, to the point that Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer has spoken of it causing concern in WWE over an increasing inability to make wrestlers scared of losing their jobs. It makes sense that pro wrestling’s biggest underachiever wouldn’t understand any of that; of course it would also make sense if he understood it perfectly well and just decided to heel it up on the sort of marks who would care.