On April 3, 2005, then ‘Legend Killer’ Randy Orton became one in a long line of men to stand against The Undertaker at WrestleMania.
He followed in the footsteps of names such as Sycho Sid, King Kong Bundy, Kane, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and Giant Gonzalez. However, unlike those mentioned, Orton would give ‘The Deadman’ arguably his greatest ‘Mania bout to that point at the twenty first installment of ‘The Grandest Stage of Them All.’
Even though the clash was an outstanding display of the past vs. the future, it nearly didn’t occur in it’s final form at all thanks to the antics of the current WWE Champion.
On a recent episode of WWE Untold, Orton spoke about WrestleMania 21 and how thanks to his well documented immaturity he missed rehearsals for the bout prior to the biggest event of the year.
“I was 24 and I was a little bit of a p***k back then. We have the Hall of Fame and WrestleMania. The day of the Hall of Fame, that morning, we had rehearsal. It was my father, John Laurinaitis, Ricky Steamboat, I believe Mike Chioda, and Undertaker were part of rehearsal. There’s a sixth man who was supposed to be there. It was me. Let’s just say that I got into some trouble and didn’t get much sleep, just in case my kids are watching. This is my second WrestleMania, I’m 24, I’ve been given the world. My dad is there. Taker is there. I got down there just as they were finishing up and walking out. I worked with Undertaker for a year and it started out with me missing rehearsal for the biggest match of the year. A lot of people may have opinions of me about early in my career, but nobody considers myself more of an a**hole than I do.”
The Randy Orton of old is certainly not the Randy Orton of present and looking back on the day in question, ‘The Viper’ said that he regretted letting Undertaker down.
Luckily for Randy Orton, skipping school as it were had zero detrimental effect on the match which helped to bump him up the food chain and the rivalry continued into summer and winter of 2005.
Randy Orton defeated The Undertaker at SummerSlam and No Mercy in a Handicap Casket Match which involved ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton. At the conclusion of that war, the Orton family locked ‘The Man From The Darkside’ inside the coffin and set it alight.
One month later at Survivor Series, Orton was shocked when the same burning casket appeared in the aisle following his elimination spectacle and The Undertaker burst through the door to extract his revenge.
The nine month long rivalry came to an end at Armageddon inside Hell in a Cell where The Undertaker pinned Orton within the structure to hammer a headstone into the storyline.
Credit for the interview: WWE Untold
h/t for the transcription: Fightful