Randy Orton has recently admitted that he has only come to understand the importance of promos within the last year.
‘The Viper’ appeared as the latest guest on Steve Austin’s ‘Broken Skull Sessions’ on the WWE Network. When remembering the earlier stages of his career, Orton admits that although he would pride himself on his in-ring abilities, his work on the microphone suffered:
“I’ve been around, but the promos, they were always mediocre. I was concentrating on the in-ring stuff, and I did that for years. I even remember that the reason I give you a bit of shit and I say ‘you weren’t too fond of me,’ is I know you’ve done interviews before where you shit on my promos. At the time, I’m like ‘f*ck him.’ But you were right.”
Orton would go on to credit WWE Senior Producer and Hall of Famer Michael Hayes for making Randy reevaluate his thoughts on promos:
“I think it was Michael Hayes, not too long ago, he said, ‘Randy if you look at all the guys who have had a Hall of Fame career, they were all good workers but could cut a good promo, a great promo. They were great on the mic. You’re not great on the mic, but you’re kind of in that mix and that’s odd to me.’ He said that to me, and it’s like, I need to give this more thought.”
Randy Orton, who made his main roster debut in 2002, came in at a time when some of the all time greats behind a microphone were a part of the company. Performers such as Chris Jericho, The Rock, Triple H and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin were all main event Superstars known for their exceptional promo skills during this time.
Though not known for his microphone skills, Randy Orton would soon become a main event figure. Joining legendary stable Evolution, Orton would go on to become the company’s youngest ever World Champion at that time. Randy would become known as ‘The Legend Killer’ and would have memorable feuds with the likes of The Undertaker and Mick Foley.
Perhaps his most infamous promo during this era was in 2006. In the lead up to Wrestlemania that year, Orton was feuding with Rey Mysterio, who vowed to capture the World Heavyweight Championship in honour of his late friend and WWE legend, Eddie Guerrero. During an in-ring promo, Randy Orton infamously told Mysterio:
“You’re looking up towards the heavens like you’re looking for Eddie. Let me tell you something, bro. Eddie ain’t in heaven. Eddie’s down there – in hell!”
The promo received massive negative backlash from fans and critics alike, with Orton himself allegedly uncomfortable with the speech.
Randy Orton would go on to express embarrassment at neglecting the promo side of professional wrestling for so long, however he now knows how important a role they play inside the squared circle:
“I knew that I was good enough to get by and do my thing. When you talk about the downs as opposed to the ups, those downs would put me in that funk to where I was good enough to stay out all night, not treat myself the best possible way I could be treating myself. Sleep in, miss the gym, show up to work, wipe the sleep out of my eye, put on my boots, and go kill it. I’ve always been so blessed in that regard, but I realised about a year ago how important promos were and it’s embarrassing to say especially to someone like you that it took me that long to realise that.”
You can watch full episodes of Steve Austin’s ‘Broken Skull Sessions’ here