WWE & Randy Orton Reportedly Have Targeted Return Date

It's been almost 17 months since fans saw Randy Orton in a WWE ring, but if the latest murmurs are true, "The Viper's" extended absence is coming to an end. Fightful Select is reporting that Orton and WWE are circling Survivor Series, which takes place November 25 in Chicago, as the date for the former WWE Champion's return. Fightful previously reported that Orton was seen at the WWE Performance Center in September.

Orton last wrestled on the episode of "WWE SmackDown" that took place on May 20, 2022. That was the night "SmackDown" Tag Team Champions Jimmy and Jey Uso defeated Orton and Matt Riddle for the "Raw" Tag Team Championship, resulting in the titles being unified (still the case as of this writing). Orton and Riddle were beaten down by The Bloodline after the match, which served to write Orton off television. If November 25 is truly his return date, "The Apex Predator" will be back exactly one year after it was reported that he had undergone back fusion surgery.

It's difficult to overstate how much WWE has changed in the time Orton has been gone, a period that has included Vince McMahon's retirement, Vince McMahon's return, and the merger of WWE and UFC into TKO Group Holdings under the broader umbrella of Ari Emanuel's Endeavor. As a result, it's unclear what role a returned Orton would play in the current landscape — even Riddle, his tag team partner for more than a year before his injury, was recently released from the company. But it's worth noting that creative plans for Orton before he was put on the shelf reportedly involved an Undisputed WWE Universal Champion match with Roman Reigns at SummerSlam 2022, and Reigns' title reign is, ironically, one of the few things that hasn't changed in Orton's absence.