Randy Orton had a unique year in 2017. He won the Royal Rumble, which was definitely an … interesting choice, and also definitely a surprise. After that, he had a lengthy feud with Bray Wyatt, and won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. That match was a disaster, and ended up setting the tone for the rest of Orton’s 2017, as he and Wyatt followed that up with a House of Horrors match, which was also historically terrible and universally panned.
Orton spent the next few months waging war against Jinder Mahal, to whom he lost the WWE Championship. They had another universally-panned match, this one a Punjabi Prison match at Battleground. He also spent some time sniping at people on the internet for enjoying dives in pro wrestling.
From both a storyline and an in-ring standpoint, it was probably the worst year of Orton’s career. At 37 years old, he’s certainly got stuff left in the tank, but with a young family at home, he’s definitely getting to the point where he wants a more relaxed schedule. When he was on the Edge and Christian podcast a few months ago, he talked about wanting to wrestle in a T-shirt, and work less often in the future.
As we prepare to head into 2018, PWInsider is reporting that Orton will be working a reduced schedule to start the new year. In January, Orton is working all of the Smackdown TV tapings for the month, as well as the Royal Rumble on January 28, but will only be working two weekends’ worth of live events that month.
Orton is also advertised for the February 6 Smackdown TV taping, but after that he is not advertised for any other dates in February or March. Keep in mind that “card subject to change” is in full effect and that Orton could always be added to other events, but for now it looks like he’ll be cooling his jets prior to WrestleMania 34.
It’s unlikely that Orton would be left off the WrestleMania card altogether, but it definitely seems unlikely at this point that he’ll be in another marquee match or title bout, and we’ll be seeing less of Orton than we usually do during the Road to WrestleMania.