Randy Orton is arguably the most popular third generation wrestler not named The Rock. Orton is a 14-time world champion in WWE and is widely regarded as the most consistent performer among OVW’s “legendary four” – the other three being Brock Lesnar, John Cena and Dave Bautista.
Orton recently sat down with Ariel Helwani for an interview. The “Legend Killer” talked about the temperament of today’s generation of wrestlers when it comes to respecting the veterans of the industry. He also talked about what would have been, had a been entering the industry today.
“Honestly, at this point in my career, I think I’d be understanding because I would see a lot of myself in him. If it was ten years ago, it would have been a different story. We would have figured out how to get that younger version of me to quit,” the former WWE Champion said.
“His gear would have ended up in the showers after the show every night. He would have had his flights canceled or walked in and had his luggage bolt locked to the rafters. He would have been ribbed until he would have not gotten on the plane and went to work the next week.”
Orton also gave his opinion on The Undertaker’s comments about modern day wrestlers playing video games and the product gone soft compared to how wrestling and wrestlers were back in the day.
“Growing up in the business and coming in when I came in, the guys that were in that locker room, I love Undertaker, I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth here and say, ‘back in my day, guys had guns and knives, now they just play video games,’ I love the video games and I love to go to the shooting range too.
“The way it was back then, this might be a younger Randy Orton’s point of view, these are all grown ass men and the level of respect in there, depending on how many bumps you put your body through and how many miles you put your body through, that level of respect adjusted depending on which talent you were talking about, but everybody demanded respect.
“What I see a lot of now, guys don’t know or understand that if it wasn’t for the generation before us, there wouldn’t be an us. They don’t understand that the road was paved by guys like my dad driving 1,000-plus miles a week. We have a rough schedule, after the pandemic, of course, it got easier, picking back up again.
“My hardest year, I think I wrestled 220 dates in one year. That was 2013. My father was wrestling eight, nine, ten times a week on the Indies. I was a kid living in a place for six months, driving to another territory, moving all our stuff, getting an apartment, living there for six months, my dad would work that territory.”
Orton talked about how veterans like his father “Cowboy” Bob Orton paved the way for younger wrestlers in the industry, noting that the level of respect among today’s wrestlers for previous generations had dwindled.
“The amount of work he put in to pave the way for me to do what I did, he did that for everybody. When I first came in the business, that level of respect was apparent. What I see now, guys get the contract, put some time in NXT — and this isn’t everybody and I would never name names — but the general attitude coming out of NXT is, ‘Alright, I’m here. Where is my stuff?’
“You have to respect everybody that came before you. You have to respect everybody you’re in there with. If I’m in the ring with you, I have to be able to know that you’re going to put my body first and you’re going to protect me in what you’re doing and you have to know that about me. With that comes respect. I just feel that sometimes, now, that level of respect has dwindled. If anything, that’s what’s upsetting to me as ‘an old timer.’ I don’t think it’s malicious.”
The 1/2 of the RAW Tag Team Champions elaborated on the ways through which wrestlers could show respect to their opponents, adding that some wrestlers take this business for granted and that they should stick to the team player mentality and take care of each other.
“I think you have guys that maybe weren’t fans of the business that found a sport that they excelled in, maybe have an appearance or a look, or an accolade that got them here, but now they don’t really get it or don’t understand that when you’re so big, you don’t have to take any bumps because you’re the giant and you got that guy in the ring opposite you, bumping all over the place and wearing his body down to make you look like a giant.
“You owe him a steak dinner. You need to thank him every chance you get. If he needs a bag of ice after the match because he took all these big moves because you’re a big son of a bitch and he was trying to make you look like a killer, then you go get the ice for him. See if he’s okay. Check on him.
“I feel like guys take for granted how much we’re beating each other up because when you’re new and you start in this business, you’re fresh and durable. It quickly adds up. Guys take for granted how grueling this business can be, especially if you’re in it for the long haul.
“Taking care of each other, it’s like a band of brothers When you can tell guys don’t get that and it’s not as much of a team player mentality and it’s more ‘me, me, me,’ there is a time and place for that, but when it’s all the time, that’s not a good look. When I can’t trust you to respect me enough to be thinking about my body and my health rather than you knocking my head off on live TV and making it look like you killed me, then we have a problem.”
Orton is among the 30 participants who will be competing in the Men’s Royal Rumble match tomorrow (January 30). The 35th annual rumble event takes place at America’s Center The Come in St. Louis.
Thanks to Fightful Select for the transcription. What’s your take on this story? Sound off in the comments!