Of all the wrestlers in the WWE the one who needs the most help from creative is Randy Orton. While I don't think you can argue the fact that Randy Orton is a supremely talented performer, his recent flux in character over the past year or two has really diminished the impact he has had on the main event picture in the WWE.
As I have stated previously, the WWE is in a very dire need for top level faces. Orton will always be one of the most popular superstars, face or heel, so on the surface it makes sense for Orton to be a face, since that is where the void on the roster is. The big issue with this is that Orton, while still fairly popular, is a very unmotivated face and his performance in the ring and with storylines has seemed to be one big circle in the past few years.
From 2007 to early 2010, Orton was arguably the best heel in the wrestling business. His psychotic character was something that the WWE fan base wasn't used to seeing and Orton's uniqueness propelled him into a very lofty position on the card. When John Cena tore his pectoral muscle in October of 2007, the onus fell on Orton to carry the company, which he did without a significant drop-off in business. Carrying a company as the top guy and also being a heel is a very, very difficult thing to do, yet Orton handled it masterfully.
Indeed, Orton became so popular as a heel that the WWE felt like they had no choice but to turn him face, a truly foolish decision which began to soil one of their most popular enterprises. The face turn was kind of sudden and abrupt, with Orton somehow turning face when Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase finally stuck up for themselves to the bully Orton. While Orton remained just as prolific for a little while, engaging in some significant feuds with The Miz and CM Punk, he slowly lost steam and at this point, he has gone from someone special to being just another performer the WWE has on its roster.
Orton as a face has been disastrous in the last few years, for all parties involved. For starters, Orton himself has clearly indicated that he is much more happy being the bad guy then he is being the hero. Orton lacks the public persona of someone like John Cena or Shawn Michaels, he is more of a brooding loner then a smiling face. Everything naturally points to Orton being a heel, yet he remains a face.
Worse than Orton just being a natural heel is that Orton seems incredibly unmotivated to be a face. In recent times, Orton has been anything but a model employee for the WWE. Multiple suspensions and a visual indifference to his in-ring work has caused some to speculate that Orton is unhappy with his position in the WWE, which understandable.
WWE creative of course, has not really done Orton any favors with their booking philosophy as of late. Orton seems to just be shoehorned into any old feud just because he has nothing better to do. His current pointless feud with the Big Show is a perfect example of that. The feud started by the two teaming up with Sheamus to take on the Shield. Of course, they were only assembled to take on the Shield because the WWE needed an opponent and guessed who happened to be doing nothing? So Big Show and Orton will have a 10-15 minute match at Extreme Rules and one of them will win to most likely go on to do nothing in the near future. This has become a common theme with Orton in the past year or so, where no real creative direction is given, they just hope that Orton goes out there and boosts some numbers.
Unfortunately for the WWE, in what might be a godsend for Randy Orton, the WWE fan base is beginning to become indifferent to Orton. Over the past month, Randy Orton coming onto Raw in various moments has lost a bounty of viewers, including a whopping 725,000 on last Monday's show. If the WWE considers to push Orton in the way they have been doing so far, they may forever spoil Orton's drawing power.
Now if Randy Orton turned heel, a breath of fresh air would be thrown into the dying corpse of Randy Orton, as well as the WWE as a whole. Orton's persona really has not changed that much since he turned face, he basically does the same stuff he did as a heel, the only difference is that he is now doing that stuff to bad guys instead of faces. If Orton were to reclaim his role as a dangerous heel, a lot of new openings and feuds would pop up for Randy.
The WWE's biggest issue will be to resist cashing in on Orton's popularity like they did previously and turn him face again. They have shown the ability to do so with CM Punk, who's most recent heel run has been very similar to Orton's was from 2007-2010. If Orton were to change his stripes, he would most likely be cheered more than he is currently as a face, but the WWE is going to have to realize that that is ok, as long as he is set up in the right feuds against the right faces. Some people will pay to see Orton win, while others will pay to see him lose. It worked previously and it will work again.