wrestling / Columns

Forgotten Favorites 03.05.09: Raw 2005 – Randy Orton vs. Christian

March 5, 2009 | Posted by Jim Grimm

Fear not, wrestling fans. After a week’s hiatus your least favorite columnist has returned to drop obscure wrestling knowledge on the world. Allow me to reintroduce myself: My name is Grimm. And since I’m tired of rewording the same generic introduction every week, allow me to take my laziness one step further by simply reusing last week’s material:

The evil master of wrestling history, who rules from his titanic towers of evil, takes great joy in robbing his followers of cherished memories. He has even gone so far as to wave his billion-dollar wand on more than one occasion in an attempt to completely erase particular pockets of time. Well, we, the people, have refused to stand for such injustices, and as a result, I have been called upon to right the wrongs of time.

Lame? Perhaps. But you’ve probably come to expect as much.

Let’s not waste any time. Great wrestling awaits!

Raw – February 14, 2005
Randy Orton vs. Christian


On August 15, 2004, Randy Orton became the next top babyface of WWE. Well, that was the plan.

That night at the seventeenth annual SummerSlam, Orton defeated Chris Benoit to claim his first World Heavyweight Championship, becoming the youngest World Champion in WWE history. The victory capped off a remarkable summer for the Legend Killer, who had spent the majority of the year reigning as the Intercontinental Champion. And although he had been booked as a heel during his IC Title reign, things began to change not long after his encounter with Mick Foley at Backlash. A portion of the audience began cheering the young arrogant superstar that did what he wanted when he wanted. WWE, perhaps eager to recover from the loss of Brock Lesnar, saw their next potential cash crop in Orton, and plans were made for the Legend Killer to split from his Evolution running buddies.

While Orton had been booked as a heel in the buildup to his title match with Benoit, things would change the following night on Raw. A supposed celebration of Orton’s title victory turned into a full-scale Evolution beatdown, featuring the mighty power of Triple H’s down-turned thumb. HHH claimed that Orton had overstepped his boundaries as a member of Evolution, taking what he believed was rightfully his World Title. One month later at Unforgiven the youngest World Champion’s title reign also became one of the shortest when interference of absurd proportions saw Triple H get the win over Orton.

The plan was to build to an Orton vs. HHH main event at WrestleMania 21. At Survivor Series, Orton led his team of Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Maven (yeah, Maven) against HHH’s team of Batista, Edge, and Snitsky (fuck yeah, Snitsky is a PPV main eventer). Naturally, the match came down to Orton on one side and HHH on the other, ending in an RKO victory for the (supposedly) rising babyface. HHH’s World Title was vacated shortly after, following a disputed finish to a Triple Threat title defense, and an Elimination Chamber for the vacant title was scheduled for New Year’s Revolution. HHH and Orton ended up being the final two men in the match, with HHH managing to steal the victory and the belt. But wait! These two guys would meet yet again three weeks later at the Royal Rumble, where Trips successfully defended the World Title against Orton. And by this point, plans had changed. Because later that night, the Royal Rumble match was won by some dude named Batista. And that dude named Batista was the one pinning HHH at WrestleMania, not Orton.

To say Randy Orton was lost following the Rumble would be an understatement. The man who was on the fast track to the main event of WrestleMania had suddenly been left with nothing. Another wrestler who was suffering a similar fate of meaningless booking was Captain Charisma himself, Christian. An unfortunate injury sidelined Christian in mid 2004, just when he was building steam alongside Trish Stratus and Tyson Tomko. By the time Christian returned in the Fall, WWE had apparently forgotten about any serious plans to push Christian, and the dude ended up working a seemingly unending series of useless tag matches alongside Tomko. Every once in a while Christian would be given the opportunity to shine in singles competition, but for the most part he was stuck in the wasteland of the E’s tag division.

And then on Valentine’s Day ’05, Vinny Mac decided to show wrestling fans a little love in the form of a kickass televised match. Two guys that had been floundering in a sea of terrible booking were allowed to go to the ring and wow the audience with everything they had. And they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Part 1

Part 2


Randy Orton gets a lot of unwarranted grief for his failed babyface run. The angle may have bombed and Orton may have lost a WrestleMania main event, but this was all far from the Legend Killer’s fault. The problematic booking (which I’ll discuss below) was the reason everything ended in disaster, not Randy Orton. When you look past the booking and focus on the in-ring action, you can’t say that Orton didn’t apply himself to the fullest as a babyface wrestler. An entertaining “good guy” is marked by a unique and exciting moveset, quick reversals/counters, and — most importantly — involving the crowd in a match. Orton’s match with Christian is a prime example of Randy’s abilities as a face performer. Orton shows off a strong repertoire of pop-friendly moves over the course of a well-paced match, working the crowd into a mad frenzy by the end. The final series of moves and counter-moves is completely awesome, and everything the ending to a match should be. The people want to see the hero nearly destroyed by his opponent’s finisher, only to initiate a quick series of reversals that ends in the face pulling off his signature move. The crowd is ecstatic during the closing seconds of this match, peaking with a major pop for the RKO and pinfall. The fans wanted to see Orton hit his move. They wanted Orton to win. And it had nothing to do with booking or a scripted generic promo; it was all about the wrestling. Oh yeah and as far as babyface finishers go, the RKO is pure gold. Wrestling fans love surprises, and Orton can hit the RKO from anywhere at anytime. The RKO finish to this match stands as one of my personal favorites because it’s just such a great “Holy shit, that was awesome!” moment.

The greatness that is the RKO

The awesomeness of the match is enough to warrant remembrance by wrestling fans, but there’s another reason that’s worth considering for WWE. Christian is now back on the WWE roster and looks to be in the best condition of his career. He’s delivered excellent performances on ECW both on the mic and in the ring, and the fans are clearly showing their support for Captain Charisma. After a run with the ECW Title, Christian will be primed and ready for a transition to either Raw or SmackDown. Whenever that happens, a feud with Randy Orton has money written all over it. When WWE is finally ready to let Christian take the next step and seriously challenge for a World Title, they would be well-served to consider Randy Orton as Christian’s foil. This 2005 match proves that these two have great chemistry inside the ring and are capable of really working up a crowd. If Orton and Christian riled up the fans this much for an essentially meaningless televised singles match, just imagine what they could do with a few weeks of buildup and a PPV blowoff.


Randy Orton’s face turn was a flop. Undeniably. And when WWE puts a lot of stock into something that fails, we tend not to hear it mentioned very often on current programming. (See also: the Invasion, Bobby Lashley, the XFL.) Of course this past week on Raw the history between Triple H and Randy Orton was mentioned. We heard about Orton being kicked out of Evolution after his title victory, a title that HHH would claim for his own within a month. But what of Orton’s heroic babyface efforts to reclaim the title? You won’t hear about it, because, frankly, WWE doesn’t want to relive it. Plans all along were likely for John Cena to receive his mega-babyface push due to his explosion in popularity in 2004, but it was Randy Orton that won the big one first. Cena, Batista, and Rey Mysterio have all enjoyed their first big babyface title win in the past few years, but WWE chose to pass the ball to Orton first, and that should say something. The hopes were for Orton to be the next huge breakout star, and it unfortunately did not happen.

Orton’s babyface star never shone quite as bright as WWE had hoped it would

WWE has likely forgotten Orton’s face run because it was such a financial disappointment, but fans have pushed it aside for other reasons. Basically, the whole angle sucked. Orton was the cool heel throughout the summer of 2004. Fans started to cheer him because he talked trash and backed it up. He wasn’t intimidated by his colleagues in Evolution. But when the E decided to turn him full-fledged face, the way they went about it left more than a few fans scratching their heads. Rather than having the newly crowned champion make the decision to leave the heel backup he no longer needed — which would’ve been well within Orton’s character — instead Evolution kicked him out of their group. Instead of looking like the star who couldn’t be held down, Orton instead ended up looking like the loser who wasn’t allowed to sit with the cool kids in the cafeteria. And then to top it all off, Orton’s reign was brought to a swift end one month later, without a single memorable title defense to his name. Orton’s booking thereafter was just mind boggling and, until Batista’s star began to shine, it was clear that WWE had no idea where it was going. Orton’s chances of a WM main event grew weaker and weaker with each passing week, and his heat as a face was far from consistent. WWE gave fans little reason to cheer Orton other than “He’s that guy who hates HHH!” And then just a couple of weeks before WrestleMania 21, WWE aborted the unsuccessful mission that was Randy Orton The Babyface, when Orton RKO’d an unsuspecting Stacy Keibler and turned heel.


Likely not by WWE, but I have a good feeling that fans will make sure this one isn’t lost forever. Orton and Christian are both wildly popular within the IWC. And newer fans that know Christian only as a TNA wrestler are naturally going to be intrigued by the battles he’s had in the past with some of WWE’s current top stars. One of the first few links to show up on my “randy orton christian” Google search was a Yahoo!Answers post of “Who would win: Christian or Randy Orton?” with fans throwing in their two cents. Curious fans will find this match and it will live on.

Feedback! (or, Proof That The World Knows I Exist!)

Yeah, I remember this match as being very fun to watch. I also remember going to a house show in Hampton, VA before the PPV and seeing them do basically a walk through of this match, cage and all. It was an awesome treat to see an unadvertised cage match at a house show…ah, the ‘good old days’ when He cared about what we wanted to see.

Posted By: mr_carpenter1982

Cage matches are indeed an awesome experience live. And I’m curious as to whether you intentionally deified Vince McMahon with your pronoun capitalization. We all know Vince can’t be God since he already beat him in a wrestling match.

Thats crazy I was just thinking about how much this match fuckin rocked the other day. I dont even remember what made me remember the match, all I remember is that it was awesome and wanted to see it again

Posted By: natedoggcata

I’m in the early stages of developing a psychic link with my readers. I’ve been prepping most of you a week in advance. If you suddenly can’t do your job because your overcome by visions of RKOs and Unprettiers, sorry, that’s me.

keep this article series going. It’s great

Posted By: Guest#8826

This guy knows what he’s talking about.

Fantastic! I always tell people about this match. Hot crowd, great characters, fast work-rate. it’s never on any of the DVDs. Maybe one day, when they do a best of Ken Shamrock set (right after Braden Walker).

Posted By: Anthony

I would pay decent money for a Shamrock set. Braden Walker, not so much.

Hell yea. That takes me back to watching WWF/WCW PPV’s at my friends house. He had a cheater box and I remember most of the shows from ’96-’99. I will admit that The Rock is one of my alltime faves and it was cool to be able to see this match again

I noticed that
The Rock- is/was a once in a lifetime entertainer

Mick Foley- is fuckin crazy and will do anything to please the fans

Shamrock- although lacking charsima, was pretty good in the ring for a MMA pro turned wrestler, and also had a great aura of a bad ass

I just wanted to say that this time period was awesome to me. People can hate on the Attitude Era or love it, but it was great to me back then. 2 mega stars like Austin and The Rock being on top in the same time period as people like HBK, Foley, Taker, HHH, Kane, and even the Hart Foudation (in the beginning) will never happen again imo.

Rock may not have been the greatest in ring worker, but he was always improving and had many classic matches. He had great sense of timing and great athleticism to go along with the superstar look and off the page charisma. I cant lie, The Rock was my guy.

And despite what ppl think of his legacy, Mick Foley should get a Best Supporting Actor Slammy for being so instrumental in the main event runs of guys like Austin, Rock, HHH, and Taker.

On a final note, I think the so-called Attitude Era was a great mixed bag. Not every match was great, not every segment was worth watching. But with the combined rosters of WWF/WCW/ECW there was enough great matches,great storylines, and freshness to it all that there’s sometihng for everyone. I was in middle school during that time period but I loved it. After typing that I feel disappointed with todays product. Maybe I got spoiled in the late 90’s but todays product seems so inferior. WWE, TNA, even the little bit of ROH I’ve seen just doesnt measure up it seems. O Well, great column!

Posted By: amusing comments

Ah, the Attitude Era. I’m with you on the nostalgia, brudda, as Attitude times were my most fond wrestling memories as well. To look back at how stacked with stars some of those cards were is just amazing. Guys like Cena, Orton, and Edge are excellent performers, but I don’t know if we’ll ever see two guys as good as Austin and The Rock again, let alone within the same era.

actually, Breakdown has been released on DVD in the UK/Europe as part of the WWEs “Tagged Classics” series (together with Fully Loaded from the same year).

Posted By: guy incognito

Wasn’t aware of this. Damn UK exclusives. Damn them to hell.

fantastic work here. Mr. Grimm you did an great job here. your right about the three of them. the ppl turned them in the direction that they needed to go to elevate them to stardom. awsome article

Posted By: mankindman

As JR said, the people always make the right decision. As you have as well, in stating the awesomeness of my article.

does any1 remember that 3 story cage match? it was a mad as stipulation

Posted By: StinkyPete

I assume that should be a mad “ass,” considering asses are typically mad. And yes, I would call most of WCW’s booking at that time maddening.

This was a good choice.

Great match- Check. Forgotten (by me anyway)- Check.

I’m pretty good at remembering old matches but I had totally forgotten about this one until about a year ago when a poster on another forum I go to reminded me of its greatness. Nice choice.

Posted By: Guest#7533

Hopefully this week was another pleasant surprise. And even if you hadn’t forgotten it, it’s still a hell of a match to go back and watch.

why all the hate for the hulkster. to hell with austin. his run is nothing compared to hogans. when austin sells 93,000 seats or gets a 15.5 on nbc, then lets talk. hell wwe cant get that rating now if austin and the rock both gave birth live on tv. ALL HAIL THE HULKSTER!!!

Posted By: rick goodwin

I’m pretty sure if two dudes popped out babies on television — regardless of their status as former WWE Champions — the ratings would be moderately high. But according to the dudes who report the numbers, Austin did outsell Hogan at his peak, meaning his run was just as good if not better than the Hulkster’s. And WWE didn’t run on NBC during Austin’s run, so … word.

can you do the fatal 4 way
Chris Jericho vs Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero vs X-Pac from no way out 2001
i know it has been forgotten for valid reasons, but that shouldnt take away that it is a fantastic match

Posted By: retromatches

I’m hesitant to write on anymore Benoit matches but I won’t rule it out. This was definitely a great match though.

Another fine forgotten fave… and that’s “fine” in the 1940’s “you WILL go on a date with me? why, that’s FINE!” sense, not the modern “eh, I’m fine” sense. I always loved this match, and particularly the pinfall-while-other-guy-climbs-cage ending.

BTW, Grimm, I emailed you a link to that Sting/DDP match to which I referred two weeks ago. Here’s the link again, in case anybody’s interested…


Posted By: KanyonKreist

I did get the link but haven’t had the time to sit down and watch the whole match yet. This is no excuse, I know, since everyone should make time for great wrestling. Who knows … this may end up being the first WCW match I cover.

– –

Alright, that’ll do it for this week. Sorry I wasn’t able to get to all the comments, but there were quite a few, and as usual, time is my bitter enemy. But that doesn’t mean you guys shouldn’t keep the wrestling conversation going.

As always, make sure great wrestling does not go overlooked. Stay safe and out of jail.


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