Randy Orton may not be as visible as his fellow WWE stars in 2013, according to an Internet report Monday.
No word yet on the issue but we do know it's nothing to do with an injury or Wellness. Apparently it's some kind of family issue he will need to put time and attention into.
The report did not state when Orton plans to take the time off. Nor was there any confirmation from WWE about this development.
But if true, it is the latest twist in the career of The Viper. Over the past few years, the multiple-time champion has dealt with numerous injuries and two suspensions for Wellness Policy violations. He also has made it no secret of his desire to return to heel status following an almost three-year face run.
That heel turn was seriously teased on the first SmackDown of this year.
Storyline tensions between him and Sheamus began building when both announced they were entering the Royal Rumble later this year for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. Later, the tension escalated during a tag team match the two had against The Big Show and Antonio Cesaro.
Following a tag exchange, Orton rushed the ring and hit Cesaro with an RKO just as Sheamus was preparing to finish Cesaro off with a Brogue Kick. The show ended with the two of them locked in a staredown.
Sheamus and Orton had been rumored to be in a match at WrestleMania 29, possibly for the World Heavyweight Championship. But the belt, formerly held by Big Show, now is around the waist of new babyface Alberto Del Rio, with whom Orton recently concluded a feud.
It is unknown what the effect of an Orton leave of absence will have on an already crowded WHC title picture.
In other news, F4WOnline, via LordsOfPain.net, is reporting that Santino Marella suffered a neck injury at a WWE house show last week in Austin, Texas. The report stated that WWE has temporarily shelved him as a precaution:
He was taken off the road to be evaluated but there is no word yet on the severity of the injury. Santino was replaced by Jamie Noble in a match against Tensai on Saturday night.
Marella (real name: Anthony Carelli) has been one of the more durable performers in WWE. He last missed several weeks of work in 2011 when he hurt his shoulder in a car accident in Puerto Rico.
Marella is a two-time Intercontinental Champion and won both the U.S. and World Tag Team championships once. He currently is one-half of Team CoBro with Zack Ryder.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.