It seems like forever ago that “The Viper” Randy Orton and “The Face That Runs The Place” AJ Styles met for the first-time-ever on the Grandest Stage of Them All at WrestleMania 35. The two top performers of this generation put on a hell of a match that was built around one premise: SmackDown Live.
For over seventeen years, Orton had made the blue brand his home by making a name for himself at the expense of legends such as Rey Mysterio, The Undertaker, and his long-time rival John Cena to name a few. Yet, there was a new flavor of the month claiming that “SmackDown Live was the house that he built.”
How could that be? Well, “The Phenomenal One” was the leader of the revamped show that Orton had built with his bare hands and he was pissed hearing “an independent darling” taking credit for his handiwork. Styles had been making a name for himself under a plethora of other Indy promotions all over the world holding championships before coming to WWE in 2016.
Six months after making his iconic debut at the Royal Rumble, Styles became the top face of the company by winning the WWE Title and outperforming anyone he stepped in the ring with. He became putting on phenomenal (no pun intended) five-star classics on a weekly basis. Styles’ matches against Orton’s rival Cena were MOTY candidates.
While both superstars were on the same show, they’ve never truly crossed paths until the 2019 Men’s Elimination Chamber Match where Orton caught Styles in mid-air with an RKO outa nowhere to be eliminated.
On the March 12th, 2019 edition of SmackDown Live, the two seasoned veterans shared an extremely personal confrontation. You could feel the venom and hatred coming from Orton’s mouth when he uttered: “If you want to continue renting out a room in my house then rent’s due you Son of a Bitch”!
At Mania, Styles knocked off Orton by winning his third match at WrestleMania in a row and the two went their own separate ways. Styles was immediately drafted to Raw as part of the Superstar Shakeup. Shortly afterward, he turned heel and reunited with Gallows and Anderson forming The O.C., and wreaking havoc.
The two rivals though had their paths cross again when during a backstage segment The OC was trash-talking and berating Ricochet and Humberto Carrillo. Orton was standing in the corner while Styles, Gallows, and Anderson joked about the babyfaces wanting a piece of them.
Ever since that night, Orton has been a thorn in Styles’s side all over again. Hell, The Viper cost Styles his United States Championship by sliding in and out of the ring psyching him out. Both rivals have been competing in six-man tag matches for several weeks now. Over this past weekend, Orton suffered a knee injury that left his career in jeopardy…Or so we thought.
On this week’s edition of Raw, The Viper played the entire WWE Universe and Styles for that matter like a fiddle while hinting at possible retirement. Orton sold his “injury” with an Oscar-worthy performance while Styles taunted him and bullied him. Just when it appeared that Orton couldn’t strike with an RKO he did just that!
— WWE (@WWE) December 31, 2019
Nobody quite knows if WWE will take a slower approach and postpone this highly-anticipated rematch for WrestleMania 36 or will they have several matches starting at this year’s Royal Rumble? What we do know is that this feud will be red-hot and must-see!