A Legend That Can't Be Killed
Ya know, a lot of people consider me an asshole. Anyone who has watched me the last year would probably say so. They would remark how I'm a ruthless, arrogant, viper who takes joy in ending careers. I do whatever it takes to win matches and keep my title. I give low blows, slap referees. If you name it, I've probably done it. But then again, I learned from the Dirtiest Player in the game.
I'm also known as the Legend Killer. My laundry list is a mile long. Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Rob Van Dam, Dusty Rhodes, Shawn Michaels have all fallen to me. I've spit in the face of Harley Race, Mick Foley and Legend-in-the-making Triple H. I have what it takes to beat anyone in this business today.
But there is one Legend that I won't, and won't even attempt to kill. It's one that is bigger than Hulkamania, bigger than the Attitude Era and bigger than the Monday Night War. It is the Legend of Ric Flair.
Granted, back in November, I was in a career-threatening match with Flair, but let's be honest, we all knew that Y2J was going to interfere and cost me the match. There was really no belief by anyone that I would beat Ric, but last night, I watched backstage as Shawn Michaels, as he put it, put Flair out of his misery. And I'll admit it, a part of me did wish that I was out there in HBK's position, proving to everyone that I am what I say I am; the Legend Killer.
But, the rest of me was glad that I wasn't the one out there. As much of an asshole as I am, I still try to maintain a little bit of dignity. I know that if it would've been me that was out there, that I would've been one hundred percent myself. I probably would have cheated in some way, shape or form in order to get the win. And quite frankly, Ric Flair deserves a hell of a lot more than that. In what was his last match, he deserved to be given a fair fight, something I know I wouldn't have been able to give him.
When I saw Shawn give that last Sweet Chin Music, I knew that it was over. When he told Ric "I'm sorry. I love you," a part of me broke inside, not because I wished it was me in Michaels' place, but because one of my mentors was gone. Back in the Evolution days, Ric taught me so much. I was a young, cocky bastard when they brought me to RAW to join him and Triple H in Evolution. And, not so nicely, he put me in my place. He made me realize that I haven't done shit to allow myself to be as arrogant as I was.
"Once you have won your sixteen World Championships, then you can be this cocky," he told me. I disagreed at first, after all, I was a third generation Superstar, but then I went back and I watched old video tapes of Flair. He was, and still is, the definition of a ring general. The experiences that he shared with me, was the best advice I had ever learned. I may have not realized it then, but as I watched those historic Flair moments that they had been playing tonight on RAW, I know that I am one of the luckiest wrestlers on the face of this earth to have been taught by The Nature Boy. Superstars and Divas alike would give an arm, leg, hell they'd give their whole fucking body to be able to experience what I have with Ric Flair.
As I sit back in my hotel room after this monumental night, I'm not thinking about how I have to get up in three hours to drive to the next city. As a matter of fact, that really doesn't matter right now. All that does matter is that last night at Wrestlemania 24, I witnessed Ric Flair's last match, ever. It kills me that I won't ever again feel the pain and anguish of that Figure Four Leglock the way it should be done. It kills me that I'll never again hear that "WOOO" emanate from the speakers of the Titantron. It KILLS me that I'll never see that amazing man and wrestler walk down that aisle in those flamboyant and over the top robes that he wears.
Tonight, I was hoping at some point Triple H, as bitter of rivals as we are, would call my name down to that ring so I could show some one on one respect to the Man that jumpstarted my career. My name was never called, but you better believe that my ass was front row center when he told everyone else who wanted to thank Ric to come out there. As I looked up at 'The Man', I was a bit shocked at myself, as I'm sure the rest of the world watching was, when I started tearing up. I've never really been an emotional man, but this wasn't about emotion. It was about respect. At that point, I was completely vulnerable. I was in a position I never thought I would be in.
But it didn't bother me, because it wasn't about me. It was about the man that paved the way for every single wrestler in this business today. I don't care if you're a high-flying lunatic like Jeff Hardy, a brawler like the Undertaker, a Hardcore nutcase like Tommy Dreamer or just a normal nutcase like Festus. Ric Flair paved the way for every single one of them. He is what put wrestling into every single home. He is what made people tune in every Monday night. He is wrestling.
Correction: wrestling IS Flair.
And now that he's gone, it's motivated me to do my damnedest to try and have even an eighth of the kind of impact on this business that he has. If that means lacing up my boots until I'm ninety years old, I'll do it. If that means that I have to stop cheating to win, I'll do it. If that means I have to jump off a hundred foot ladder, I'll do it.
I have nothing but the utmost respect for The Nature Boy and I hope that one day, I'll make him proud to have coached me and to have taught me everything I know about this business and the way things work. I hope one Monday night, while he's enjoying his retirement and he turns on RAW and sees me going out there and kicking ass that he'll smile and say, "Way to go, Orton. I've taught you well."
But until that day comes, I'll be here traveling with the WWE and putting my heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into everything I do. Just like he did. And maybe, just maybe, one day, I'll also be a legend that can't be killed.