Randy Orton is a sure-fire future WWE Hall Of Famer but former Head Of Talent Relations Jim Ross says his whole career was nearly a non-starter thanks to Vince McMahon.
As the man tasked with hiring and firing, Jim Ross oversaw the beginnings of many a WWE career during his tenure. Ross brought the likes of Mick Foley, Steve Austin, and Dwayne Johnson into the company as WWE found itself in a battle for survival against WCW.
Post Attitude Era and it fell to JR again to rebuild a roster for the future. WWE’s developmental promotion at the time Ohio Valley Wrestling soon oversaw its most famous class of future stars such as John Cena, Batista, Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin, and Randy Orton were all part of the roster.
Speaking on his Grilling JR podcast [available early and ad-free at AdFreeShows.com], the current AEW announcer gave his take on recruiting Randy Orton and why his past nearly played a part in WWE Chairman Vince McMahon looking past the third-generation star:
“Every recruiting story is different. I had a hard sell to get Randy Orton hired because of his negative exit from the Marines, and Vince, being a strong patriot, didn’t like how that worked out with Randy in the military. I said, ‘Didn’t you get a second chance, [Vince]? Well, what’s the difference with this kid? He’s third generation. If he hits, look what we have. If he doesn’t hit, I can get rid of him in 90 days notice. What do we have to lose?’”
“He’s going to end his career as one of the greatest talents. Hall of Famer, no doubt, but also going to be regarded by his peers as one of the greatest in-ring workers. It worked out well.”
Before embarking on a career that saw him become a fourteen-time champion of the world in WWE, Randy Orton served as a US Marine. He received a bad conduct discharge in 1999 and spent 38 days in a military prison at Camp Pendleton after going AWOL and disobeying an order from a commanding officer. These things did catch up with Orton when he signed on for the starring role of The Marine 3, only to end up being replaced by The Miz.