Back in 2009 Randy Orton and Triple H kick started and continued their feud that had been on and off since Randy became the youngest World heavyweight champion in history at Summerslam 2004.
It all started with Randy Orton disrespecting Stephanie McMahon and her subsequent threat to fire him, this leading to the return of Vince McMahon to WWE television. On the episode of Raw on January 19th just days before the 2009 royal rumble, with Vince McMahon and Orton in the ring alone. McMahon was about to fire Orton when Orton slapped McMahon and then delivered a brutal punt kick. McMahon was stretchered out of the arena as Orton looked shocked at his own actions.
At the Royal Rumble six days later Randy Orton would win the rumble match and book his place in the main event of Wrestlemania. He then moved into a feud with Shane McMahon who returned to gain revenge for his fathers attack. They squared off at No Way Out and this lead to Orton punt kicking Shane on the Raw after No Way Out to continue his demolition of the McMahon family. After kicking Shane, Stephanie came to his aide and argued with Orton. Orton delivered an RKO to Stephanie which brought out an angry Triple H to tend to his wife.
This angle and the following week brought real life and kayfabe together as they officially announced on television that Stephanie and Triple H were in fact married. On the lead up to their match at Wrestlemania, we saw Orton continue his attacks on Stephanie giving her a DDT from the ropes followed by Triple H on a hunt for revenge that saw Triple H attack Randy Orton in his house. Triple H would throw Orton through the front window of the house in that exchange.
Their match at Wrestlemania would main event the show and received mix reaction from critics. Part of the problem was that it was over shadowed by what some pundits call the greatest wrestling match ever in Shawn Michaels battle against The Undertaker. For me the problem with the match is that both competitors hit their respective finishers at the start of their match taken the remaining air out of the stadium, the match never got the crowd overly into the match thereafter. Dave Meltzer in his Wrestling Observer actually rated this match a mediocre 2.5 stars which is a fair assessment.
The match-up sees right competitor go over in Triple H as he gains revenge for the McMahon family but Orton was so hot at this time and on such a role that losing actually made his loss take away a little bit of that magic he had at this point. He was on fire and WWE got themselves stuck in a bad situation by booking Orton so strongly but needing him to lose. After night after Wrestlemania Batista returned after months out of the ring due to injury to seek revenge on Orton. Storyline wise Batista was out injured because of a Orton punt kick a few months earlier. Looking to gain revenge, Batista teamed up with Triple H and Shane McMahon in a 6 man tag team match against Legacy at Backlash at the end of April.
In the lead up to the match Randy Orton gained a non title match victory over Triple H in a No DQ match. Somewhat revenge for his championship loss at Wrestlemania, But Orton got the upper hand at Backlash when he got the pin fall on Triple H to win the WWE Championship. Afterwords he finally delivered a punt kick putting Triple H out of action for roughly two months.
In the mean time, Batista was out for revenge against Orton and his Legacy team mates and had his opportunity in a Steel Cage match at Extreme Rules. Batista would defeat Orton and pick up the victory and the WWE Championship. The following night Batista had to vacate the championship due to injury. The story goes that WWE actually knew Batista was injured at Extreme Rules and still put the championship on him. Furthermore if Batista didn’t get injured he was going to feud with Triple H on his return with Batista turning on his friend. Where would have this left Orton in the shuffle? What if they just kept the championship on Orton who was still very over as a heel with the crowd and Triple H and Batista could have gone without the championship. Orton could have still carried on with his championship feud with John Cena over the summer and they wouldn’t have needed to hot potato the WWE Championship around different superstars.
With Batista vacating the WWE championship, Randy Orton won the championship back only for Triple H and Vince McMahon to return and set the final battle in their war in a three stages of Hell match at the pay per view ‘The Bash’. The match included a first fall of a normal wrestling match, second fall No DQ and the third fall was a stretcher match. It doesn’t come across as hell to me compared to some other options. The Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin three stage of Hell match from No Way Out 2001 seemed a bigger and more evil way to settle a war. For me, this one didn’t cut it. It should have been a third fall of a cage match and you can’t say living in a PG era compared to the attitude era changes things, it simply doesn’t
The Bash ends with Randy Orton retaining his championship in the third fall thanks to help from Legacy but Triple H gets a final measure of revenge knocking Orton out with a sledge hammer and standing tall to end their rivalry. As mentioned Orton would go on and feud with John Cena whilst Triple H would enlist his friend Shawn Michaels help and they would go to war with Legacy in some great battles.
Looking back at this feud it was headline stuff on the lead up to Wrestlemania. Randy Orton was on fire as he dominated the McMahon family all the way up to Mania and the result of the main event is what should have happened. But afterwords they could have built Orton stronger and made him more of a star than he already was. He could have beaten Triple H one on one at Backlash to win the championship, definitely beat Batista in their cage match at Extreme Rules and have this has motivation to feud with Triple H if Batista stayed or as he was injured make Orton take him out again to further build Orton as a heartless, devastating heel. As mentioned I would have changed the last fall of their match at the Bash but I think the ending of their feud was well done.
I would recommend going back and taking a look at their build to Wrestlemania 25 but after that it’s very hit and miss and something you have no need to go out of your way to see but if somehow your watching 2009 WWE, it isn’t all that bad.