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Source: The Wrestling Observer Newsletter
Rumors continue to swirl that Randy Orton’s continued employment with WWE is in jeopardy following their announcement May 30 that he was being suspended for 60 days for his second violation of the Talent Wellness Program.
A WWE source notes that Vince McMahon is livid with Orton, particularly since he was so “outspokenly indifferent” to the suspension. Another source says Orton was hastily benched to ensure that he return before SummerSlam on August 19, but “something happened” shortly after the announcement that infuriated the WWE Chairman. This has led to discussions of Orton not being brought back at all after his suspension concludes.
Former WCW announcer Mark Madden stated last Thursday via Twitter that WWE is looking to terminate their partnership with Orton since he’s considered difficult to deal with and due to the belief that his value has plateaued.
There are people within WWE saying Orton’s time away from the squared circle ‘isn’t going to be that big a problem.’ For the first time, officials are openly categorizing CM Punk as the second-ranked babyface rather than the two as equals. Many also feel SmackDown’s babyface side will be sufficient with Sheamus, Christian, Sin Cara, Rey Mysterio returning soon from suspension and the option to turn Daniel Bryan at a moment’s notice. Orton has made and saved a lot of money during his career and resides in an area where he could live comfortably for several years without financial worry. His wife Samantha also comes from a well-to-do family, so not having a steady income is reportedly not a major concern for him.
There is a ‘small, vocal pocket’ within the sports entertainment organization lobbying for Orton’s termination. Those opposing his return feel his lucrative ten-year contract—signed in January 2010—can no longer be justified if he is brought back in a mid-level role. His second suspension hinders WWE from continuing to feature Orton in headline role since a third drug-testing policy infraction would result in automatic termination, or, as some have stated, a “one-year suspension.”
In another potential factor, there is concern over the physical state of Orton, who has incurred numerous injuries over his twelve-year career. Some officials believe his body is breaking down and there are questions regarding the state of his neck and spine.
According to SuperLuchas.net, the nine-time world champion’s suspension stems from a positive drug test for the anabolic steroid Dianabol, which is banned by the United States Congress under its Controlled Substances Act. However, that is not confirmed. Orton claimed to test positive for a tainted supplement.