Randy Orton spoke with Kevin Eck of The Baltimore Sun this past week to promote WrestleMania 27. Here are a few highlights:
You’ve been working as a babyface – although you’re certainly not a traditional babyface – for about a year now. Are you feeling comfortable in that role?
Absolutely not. I’m definitely growing as a good guy, as a babyface. I’ve got to walk a fine line, Kevin, because as a bad guy, as a heel, I go so comfortable in that role, I think I eventually earned the respect of the fans. And it wasn’t some master plan to become a good guy one day. I was dead set on being a heel the rest of my career. I figured there’s no way I’ll ever be a good guy. But the fans, they’re powerful, and when they speak together like they did, I started getting positive reactions. I’d be in the ring with a babyface as a heel, but they’d be chanting for me. It’s just one of those things where I just had to make the switch. But I think where I succeeded this time, where I failed back in’04 after I became the youngest champ in history and became babyface, I didn’t change too much. I think that’s very important. That respect I earned from the fans as a bad guy, I don’t want to lose that. And if all of a sudden I’m coming out and I’m trying to be like John Cena, that typical white meat babyface, kissing babies, hugging grandmas, slapping high-five with everybody in the front row, that’s not going to work. If I come out pumping my fist and smiling, it’s going to make people want to barf. So I really had to walk that fine line and change, but just change enough to where it works for me and my character.
You’re working with CM Punk in a match at WrestleMania that is a little lower on the card than some of the matches you’ve been involved in at past WrestleManias. Do you feel less pressure not being in a main event, or do you relish being in that pressure-cooker?
It’s a good question, but I believe in every Mania, every pay-per-view, Raw, Smackdown or live event I’m in, my goal – and I would hope that everyone else’s goal on the roster – would be to the steal the show, and the pressure is always there. Whether it’s a stage like WrestleMania or another pay-per-view or just TV or a live event, you’ve still got the same fans out there. The WWE Universe is watching and you’ve got to perform. You’ve got to live up to the expectations that you have laid out. Me and CM Punk, we’re not fighting for a title, but if you look back, we’ve got a three-year story line in the making. I cost him the WWE championship back in ’08 when I was returning from a collar bone injury just after the birth of my daughter. I remember it vividly. I punted him in the back of the head backstage on a day when he was champ and was going to defend the title at a pay-per-view. He wasn’t able to even perform in the match because I kicked him in the head, cost him the title. If I was him I would have done the same thing. He came back at the Rumble, cost me the title, but as far as I’m concerned, that made us even. Anything after that, I’m sorry, Phil Brooks, CM Punk. I’m going to destroy him April 3 at WrestleMania XXVII. That’s just how it’s going to go.
There was an angle on Raw recently that involved the tour bus that you travel in. I’ve heard that a lot of the top guys have tour buses now and travel with their families, which, obviously, is a lot different than what life was like on the road when your father and grandfather wrestled. Are the tour buses saving marriages?
A lot of guys actually don’t travel by tour bus ; there’s five of us. I think to be able to be at a point in your career where you’ve earned it and you can afford it, I think anyone would be stupid not to do it. What the tour bus does for me – my family coming with me, that’s just the cherry on top – I don’t have to travel 200 and 300 miles a night driving till 3 or 4 a.m. looking for that Denny’s that’s open or that drive-thru at McDonald’s and getting a couple chicken sandwiches and taking the bun off and shoving it down my throat. I got a kitchen, king-size bed, a couple TVs, a washer and dryer, a shower, a bathroom, deep sinks – I’m set. I can travel anywhere around the country, and I can get flat after a match. I think the biggest thing when it comes to injuries and stuff, travel has a big part in that. Because after a match, guys hit the road and they’re in a sitting position. They’re not able to ice up or do whatever they have to do therapy-wise. Being in a car driving like that, it’s just not good on your back, and our backs take a lot of abuse with all the bumps we take in the ring. Our body in general takes a hell of a beating, and that bus allows me to recover – that’s the biggest thing right there. It’s worth every penny because I’m able to recover more than I would in a rental car. Waiting in lines, looking for hotels, reserving rental cars, just plugging in an address into your GPS and hoping that address eventually leads you to a gym and not some middle of the subdivision where the address was wrong. There are lots of things that go into that bus that make it worth its weight in gold, but the No. 1 thing for me is the recovery time that I get having the bus that I didn’t have in the rental cars.