Since returning from serious shoulder surgery, Randy Orton has retained his on-screen role as one of WWE’s premier superstars. He faced Brock Lesnar in a highly-touted bout — their first match since both men were rookies in 2002 — and the match did not go as many predicted.

The Beast Incarnate dominated The Viper. Orton was decimated from the get-go and then, things turned violent. Lesnar delivered several stiff elbows to Orton’s temple, busting Orton wide open as the ring mat became decorated with his blood. It was a rare WWE bout in which outright violence and blood were fixtures.

BREAKING NEWS: @BrockLesnar defeats @RandyOrton in a @SummerSlam rematch at #WWEChicago! https://t.co/MRPuYnD51k pic.twitter.com/QM4B5N9s3D

— WWE (@WWE) September 25, 2016

Orton did not wrestle for several weeks after the match and it was later revealed that he suffered a concussion from the elbows to the head. The beating looked so authentic, Chris Jericho, who was watching backstage thought Lesnar may have legitimately tried to hurt Orton. Several reports said that upon his return backstage, Jericho confronted Lesnar and things got heated — and slightly physical — before both men were separated.

“I think that happens when you get guys that are in a sport such as ours, half-entertainment, half-real, half-not” Jericho said to Chael Sonnen’s podcast You’re Welcome. “I just thought the finish of that match was very brutal and very violent, and I just didn’t know if Randy was OK. I was checking on Randy, my friend. We’ve always been pretty close.”

However, the way the match was executed, and Orton’s willingness to take the beating has earned him praise from WWE chairman Vince McMahon, according to Daily Wrestling News. The report states that McMahon’s thinking behind the finish was to, ironically, “protect” Orton as he did not want him to be pinned.

Orton was scheduled to face Bray Wyatt at No Mercy but he was suspiciously pulled from the match — the reason later revealed to be the concussion. He has slowly begun wrestling more matches and getting more physical. In fact, DWN’s report adds that McMahon’s high praise of Orton led many to believe that he would be in the running for a future WWE World Heavyweight championship run.

The pose!@RandyOrton #SDLive pic.twitter.com/8TarGY4oRs

— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) September 21, 2016

However, that title picture is expected to be crowded in the coming months, so an Orton championship win may not be in the immediate future. Also, AJ Styles only recently captured the WWE World Heavyweight title and several reports have stated that the plan is for him to have a lengthy title reign.

But with the brand split in full force, there will be a lot of opportunities for both young performers and veterans, like Orton, to get their fair exposure. In an interview with Gorilla Position ahead of SummerSlam, Orton spoke about being a SmackDown Live superstar and the perception of the show being inferior to RAW.

“The whole A-Show, B-Show thing is bull**** now,” Orton said. “As far as I’m concerned, Smackdown Live is where it’s at. Our roster is way more stacked than Raw. Raw’s got some impressive, young men and women, especially the newcomers, Finn Balor for example. Very excited to work with him in the future. Hopefully, that can happen on Smackdown live. But if you ask me, Smackdown Live is where it’s at. I’m biased, but I think the fans are seeing it that way too.”

With John Cena scheduled to take time off to film the second season of American Grit, and separate reports that Dean Ambrose may be taking a short break, too, Orton seems prime to have a prominent role on WWE television in the months to come.

[Featured Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images]

WWE News: Randy Orton Reportedly Draws High Praise; WWE Title Run In His Future? is an article from: The Inquisitr News

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