It has been more than a year since Randy Orton has found himself in the main-event scene and it's safe to say that he is in dire need of a change. Based on the manner in which he lost at Survivor Series, a heel turn appears to be right around the corner.
Orton is a nine-time world champion and was considered the No. 2 face of the company behind John Cena just a couple years ago, but he has fallen on hard times.
Orton's biggest issue might have been a second violation of the WWE's wellness policy that led to a 60-day suspension this past summer, but the fact of the matter is that his character grew stale long before that.
Crowd reaction dictated that Orton had to turn face heading into WrestleMania XXVI, and that is precisely what happened. Despite the fact that Orton was the WWE's best heel at the time, he took the face role and ran with it. He played the tweener role quite well, as he was technically a face, but wouldn't hesitate to take out a fellow face if it meant furthering himself.
At some point, though, Orton degenerated into the typical John Cena-esque babyface that so many fans can't stand. He wasn't exactly shaking hands and kissing babies, but suddenly Orton was good buddies with a guy like Cena despite the fact that they had clashed so many times in the past.
The second Orton's character let its guard down was the second he became a neutered version of himself.
If Orton isn't the psychotic, unstable superstar he played previously, then he doesn't have much to fall back on. Orton's mic skills are average at best and that has been especially apparent over the past year.
Even though Orton manages to put on a great match with essentially everyone he steps into the ring with, the fans just don't seem to react as loudly as they used to.
It could be argued that Orton is now behind Cena, Ryback and Sheamus in the face pecking order and there don't appear to be imminent plans to toss him back into the main-event picture. Punk is tied up with Cena, Ryback and eventually The Rock, while Big Show and Sheamus seem likely to have another match for the World Heavyweight Championship at TLC at the very least.
That leaves Orton out in the cold, but a potential heel turn could make him relevant. Nothing is guaranteed, but the manner in which Orton lost at Survivor Series screams heel turn.
Orton was the final remaining member for Team Foley in the traditional, five-on-five elimination match, while Dolph Ziggler was the only guy left on his side.
Orton had Ziggler in a compromising position and probably could have won by simply hitting an RKO, but a crazed look came over Orton's face. With Ziggler getting to his knees, Orton backed into the corner to set up for a punt. Orton utilized that maneuver largely as a heel to put various faces out of commission, although he also used it early in his face run as well.
Just as Orton was about to punt Ziggler into next week, The Show Off rose to his feet and caught The Viper with a vicious superkick. Ziggler scored the pinfall and was the sole survivor in the match.
The fact that Orton lost the match cleanly as well as the disappointed look at Foley's face said a lot in terms of where Orton's character is going in the immediate future.
Ideally, Orton will begin a feud with The Miz very soon. Neither is a main-event player at the moment, but they both have main-event ability. Based on how uncooperative Miz was at Survivor Series, he is still technically a heel, but the crowd reaction will dictate otherwise very soon. He and Orton weren't on the same page on Sunday and that probably stems from the fact that Orton RKO'd Miz following a tag team match on SmackDown.
Since both Orton and Miz would benefit from turning, it makes a lot of sense to put them in a feud that could very well lead to a double turn. That would allow both of them to get over immediately in their respective new roles and it could quite possibly lead to a feud and match between them at WrestleMania, especially if The Miz wins the World Heavyweight Championship—perhaps at Elimination Chamber.
As far as Orton is concerned, it's about time for him to go back to his roots. He has experienced some success as a face, but essentially every fan concurs that his best work came as a heel.
With only CM Punk to contend with on a company-wide scale, Orton would easily become the top heel on SmackDown, which is a much better position for him to be in than where he is currently.
The blue brand is stale right now to say the least, but an Orton turn would suddenly inject life both into SmackDown and into the beleaguered Viper himself.