Friday, 11 November 2016

Randy Orton: RKO Outta Nowhere

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 349 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: November 14 2016

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

Originally, the November 2016 WWE DVD release was set to be the third volume in the OMG! Moments series, this time focusing on ECW (which certainly did provide a plethora of such incidents). For reasons unknown, this was changed to a new Randy Orton match compilation (likely in time with his return from a long, injury-related lay-off), featuring matches spanning the 2000-2015 period and containing pre-match comments from Randy himself in a newly-recorded sit-down interview. This switch didn't satisfy everybody (including fans of the old ECW, obviously), but from a quality standpoint, the change was probably for the better, as this second three-disc set on The Viper provides plenty of action and a good glimpse into the mind-set of the modern-day Legend Killer.

The opening match, held in the summer of 2000, is from OVW. Pitting a very young Orton against Johnny Spade, this is more of an angle (involving Mark Henry) than a match and is too brief to be of any consequence (making it a strange choice to kick off the DVD). Longer and therefore better, if understandably basic at this point in Randy's career, are a dark match against Flash Flanagan from 2001 and an OVW clash against The Prototype a.k.a. John Cena from a few months later (during which OVW promoter and announcer Jim Cornette unnecessarily, unpredictably yet completely hilariously calls the interfering Kenny Bolin "that fat b-----d").

Moving onto Orton's progression to the main roster, Orton discusses his early stint on SmackDown in 2002, with a suspect compliment about Hardcore Holly and some genuine praise for The Undertaker, partly in relation to the next match on this DVD, where a then-heel Taker defends the Undisputed Title against Orton in a surprisingly competitive match which the Calgary crowd is well into (it's strange to watch Taker, then in his American Bad Ass phase, talking like a normal human being rather than the Dead Man character). As the DVD turns to Orton's jump to Raw and his involvement in the memorable Evolution faction, Randy points out how much Ric Flair and Triple H helped him, prior to a six-man tag (which has been released before, making this feel like a bit of a lazy inclusion, to be fair) where Evolution battle The Dudleyz.

Randy's previous DVD, Evolution Of A Predator, showcased Orton's key matches, especially from this period, so his ascension to the point where he became WWE's hottest prospect for future main event stardom is displayed here by a good match against Chris Jericho in Y2J's hometown of Winnipeg and an even better showdown with Edge two weeks later, both from July 2004 and both for the Intercontinental Championship. Orton's ill-fated first World Heavyweight Title reign isn't covered (partly because of the identity of the man who he took the title from), so we skip ahead to a dark match pitting Orton against HHH from December 2004 to close disc one (which is decent considering that it was held after a Raw taping, and which features a ridiculous yet undeniably humorous moment where HHH stands prone, seemingly KO'd, for almost a full minute before taking a step forward and falling face-first, Flair Flop-style).

The content of disc two is a bit weird; granted, EOAP contained some of Orton's pivotal bouts from the mid-2000s, but nevertheless the next match on the DVD doesn't come until November 2006, where Rated RKO battle The Hardyz in an entertaining tag match on an episode of Raw (presumably due to the modern-day PG climate, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler's references to a very bloody beatdown by Rated RKO on Ric Flair are removed, even though the entire Raw show can be seen on the WWE Network), and the next match comes nearly a full year after that, in the form of an underrated battle with Shawn Michaels from Survivor Series 2007 (the stipulation was that Michaels was not allowed to use Sweet Chin Music or he would lose and be barred from having any future title shots, giving this match a different feel to the usual HBK bout; Orton would also have lost the WWE Title if he had been disqualified). By this point, Orton had finally entered into a lengthy heavyweight title run as WWE Champion, with a good if slightly anticlimactic defence against Jeff Hardy from Royal Rumble 2008 being the next featured match on this DVD.

For some reason, the following match is over three years later, from May 2011 when Orton took on CM Punk in a Last Man Standing match from Extreme Rules. Perhaps that speaks volumes about the lack of interest in the stupidly-prolonged Orton vs. Cena feud from 2009, as well as Randy's adventures from 2010. Mind you, 2011 proved to be the best year of Orton's career to date from an in-ring standpoint, and this compilation provides some suitable evidence: the LMS brawl was the highlight of the Punk feud, and the match which closes disc two - Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler from August 2011 - is a great television bout with a simple yet awesome finish, and which opened many people's eyes as to how good Dolph was by hanging with Orton in such a competitive fashion.

Disc three kicks off with a Randy vs. Christian Steel Cage match from SmackDown, the night after the Ziggler match actually. It's a shame that no other Orton vs. Christian bouts are included in the main programme since their feud was exceptional, although their No Holds Barred match from SummerSlam is included on the Blu-ray. After that, Orton's career largely drifted until he won Money In The Bank in 2013, so it's fitting that the next match included is that very MITB Ladder match, which has a number of additional layers to it besides Orton's triumph. The brilliantly-executed cash-in of said briefcase at the expense of Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam, which allowed for the formation of The Authority with assistance from Triple H, is unfortunately not shown here, but at least we get Orton's TLC bout with Cena that unified the two World Championships, which in hindsight saw Orton reach a level of significance that he has yet to return to since.

The DVD ends with three matches which you could argue have a slight filler feeling to them; however, between WrestleMania XXX (when Orton lost the WWE World Title to Daniel Bryan in a three-way match that you may be familiar with) and SummerSlam 2016 (when Orton battled Brock Lesnar in the main event, held after the production of this set was completed), there are no truly stand-out matches from Randy's life and times. Therefore, while a random Raw bout with Dean Ambrose is definitely not a career highlight, the inclusion of his WrestleMania 31 bout with Seth Rollins (which ends with that mid-air RKO to reverse an attempted Curb Stomp, and held prior to Seth's own MITB cash-in later that night) and a very good Raw three-way with Cesaro and Kevin Owens are both justifiable, and from an action standpoint, they end the release on a bit of a high.

Orton is candid and likeable during his talking segments between matches; whereas the EOAP DVD focused on his "demons", the Orton of today is a much more mature and relaxed figure, even if he is still prone to the occasional temper tantrum. And amongst the matches, they are mostly good or very good. Whilst there are no bouts which I would describe as being of a classic standard, certain match finishes do stand out, and they emphasise the DVD's name; namely, that Orton can hit an RKO "Outta Nowhere" (although the real credit for that tag-line should go to the fan who created the "RKO outta nowhere" online videos in 2014 which temporarily made Orton a viral sensation).

Randy Orton fans should love this DVD; from the standpoint of having Orton's "story" and most significant matches, this is inferior to the 2011 release Evolution Of A Predator, but from an in-ring perspective, this is a strong compilation that is equal to or perhaps superior to EOAP, and is a reminder that whilst a combination of his occasionally-bland persona and less-than-stellar booking and character development have led many to sour on Orton as an actual performer, he remains one of WWE's top wrestlers, and has been for more than a decade now. Hopefully, given that he is still only 36, we may get a third collection in the future, as Orton will hopefully keep hitting RKO's from outta nowhere for some time to come.

Overall Rating: 8/10 - Very Good

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