In a shocking turn of events, wrestling superstar Randy Orton made his long-awaited return on SmackDown and officially signed with the blue brand, immediately setting his sights on Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and The Bloodline.
Orton Emerges to Kick Off SmackDown
The show kicked off with an in-ring promo from SmackDown General Manager Nick Aldis, who discussed Orton’s impending free agency and pitched why he should choose SmackDown as his new home. While Aldis was making his case, Santos Escobar interrupted and warned that wherever Orton goes, the rest of Legado del Fantasma won’t be far behind.
Just then, Orton’s iconic music hit and The Viper emerged to a massive ovation from the Brooklyn crowd. Orton played to the fans and teased his big decision before grabbing a mic to address the situation.
Orton Chooses SmackDown, Earns Aldis’ Ire
After soaking in the reaction, Orton officially announced that he has chosen to take his talents to Friday nights and join the SmackDown roster. While Aldis was elated and shook Orton’s hand, The Viper quickly turned on the GM and hit him with an RKO outta nowhere!
This shocking turn immediately establishes Orton as a chaotic force on Team Blue. While his RKO on Escobar last month hinted at issues with Legado del Fantasma, his ambush on Aldis proves no one is safe.
What’s Next for Orton on SmackDown?
So what inspired Orton’s last-second swerve onto SmackDown? There are a few possible explanations:
- Orton sees Reigns and The Bloodline running roughshod over the show unopposed and aims to step up as their top challenger
- He has unfinished business with tag champs The Usos from their rivalry last year
- There are plenty of fresh opponents like GUNTHER, Karrion Kross, and more
- His issues with Legado del Fantasma aren’t settled
One thing is clear: Orton wants to cement his legacy by taking down Reigns and capturing his 3rd world championship. At 44 years old, Orton recognizes his window is closing and seizing an opportunity like this can’t wait.
No matches have been announced yet, but Orton is likely to square off against Bloodline members in the coming weeks en route to a showdown with The Head of the Table at Royal Rumble.
How Key Superstars Fared at Survivor Series
Prior to his arrival, SmackDown’s contingent enjoyed a successful night at Survivor Series last Saturday:
|Defeated LA Knight in singles action
|Lost SmackDown Women’s Title to Shotzi in shock upset
|Defeated Bobby Lashley by DQ after interference
|Sheamus & Drew McIntyre
|Survived for Team SmackDown but ultimately lost men’s WarGames match
|Pinned Austin Theory to win men’s Survivor Series elimination match for SmackDown
While the women’s division was shaken up by Shotzi’s surprise win, SmackDown’s men gained momentum with big wins for Butch and Team Brawling Brutes. Now with Orton bringing another main event threat to the roster, the blue brand appears well-stocked with challengers to fight The Bloodline’s domination.
Other Notable Moments
- In the opening tag match, Raquel Rodriguez & Shotzi defeated Shayna Baszler & Xia Li to earn a future Women’s Tag Title match. This suggests Damage CTRL’s grip may continue loosening.
- LA Knight continued his feud with Bray Wyatt, vowing revenge after his loss and promising to "end" Wyatt once and for all.
- Logan Paul kicked off a tournament to crown a new #1 contender for his U.S. Championship, with the first match seeing Ricochet defeat Mustafa Ali to advance.
While Orton’s arrival and immediate impact stole the show, SmackDown continues brewing other storylines that could bubble up in the coming weeks. It’s clear Paul and LA Knight won’t be letting go of their issues anytime soon either.
What Does This Mean Going Forward?
Randy Orton shockingly winding up on SmackDown shakes up the landscape of WWE enormously. As a multi-time world champion and surefire future Hall of Famer, Orton brings star power and credibility that is badly needed.
After losing talents like Cody Rhodes, Riddle, and Judgment Day to Raw over the past year, SmackDown was in danger of becoming The Bloodline show featuring Reigns and the Usos destroying whoever tries to step up. With Orton now in the mix and other former world champions like McIntyre, Sheamus, and even Karrion Kross waiting in the wings, the blue brand seems ready to push back.
The road to WrestleMania 40 also comes into focus now. It remains to be seen whether Reigns can hold the title another 500+ days and headline yet another Showcase of the Immortals. But Orton presents the biggest threat we’ve seen on SmackDown since Reigns took control.
A title vs. career match between The Head of the Table and The Viper on Hollywood’s grandest stage would immediately grab mainstream attention. And if anyone can believably defeat Reigns after his years-long domination, it might just be the veteran Orton with a renewed motivation.
No matter how it shakes out, Orton’s SmackDown arrival guarantees one thing: volatility. And that promises plenty of chaos and excitement ahead.
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