Dark Match Dungeon: Randy Orton’s Eastern Conference Predictions

Greetings to one and all, and welcome to this week’s trip to the Dark Match Dungeon!  This is the weekly With Spandex look at early footage of today’s wrestling stars, kept in pristine (by which I mean “usually VHS-ripped”) quality thanks to the magic of the internet.  Now that Triple H and Batista are both in the bag, I figured we should round out the non-geriatric members of Evolution and take a look at the Apex Predator himself, Randy Orton.  He’s been through many phases in his career – Legend Killer, Unintentionally Comedic Over-Explainer, Bad Marine – but what was he like as a 21-year-old rookie?  Take a look for yourself!

What To Look For:

  • LOCAL SPORTS TEAM HEAT!  You can tell this clip is over a decade old because Randy’s talking about the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA playoffs.
  • An honest-to-God ovation for “The One” Billy Gunn.  We let some serious crap get in under the radar, guys.
  • Speaking of “The One,” have you noticed how his entrance music could work perfectly as the Step By Step theme song?  Chuck Taylor has.
  • Orton nearly approaching Dolph Ziggler levels of selling.
  • The sign in the crowd that simply says “WEB FEET.”  I’m just as confused as you are.

If my cursory research serves me correctly, this May 2001 pre-Smackdown appearance was Orton’s first on the main roster after proving his worth in Ohio Valley Wrestling.  He would make his televised debut almost exactly a year later, but would eventually be sidelined by the first of his many shoulder injuries.  And even that was bearable because it gave us the underrated gem known as THE RANDY NEWS NETWORK.

Oh man, that hair/polo shirt combo.  It looks like he just got back from tailgating somewhere in the SEC.  Incidentally, when was the last time that Get Well, Randy e-mail inbox was checked?