Aug 20, 2013
Randy Orton Returns as WWE Champion
At the conclusion of the 2003 WWE SummerSlam in Phoenix, Randy Orton stood side by side with World Heavyweight Champion Triple H after helping him deliver a brutal beating to fan favorite Goldberg.
- Flashback: SummerSlam 2003
Ten years later, it was Triple H standing at Orton's side in the closing moments of SummerSlam 2013 on Sunday night, after helping him defeat fan favorite Daniel Bryan to steal the WWE Championship.
The finish was as surprising as it was upsetting to the thousands of fans attending the live event in Los Angeles, and the million of fans watching the pay-per-view around the world. The night appeared to end in celebration, as Bryan stunned defending champion John Cena in the main event to win his first-ever WWE title to the thrill of the capacity crowd.
But the chants of "YES! YES! YES!" were interrupted by the "voices" of Orton's intro theme, as last month's Money-in-the-Bank winner slowly walked toward the ring. Carrying his prized briefcase with a guaranteed contract inside good for a title match at the time and place of his choosing, Orton appeared poised to cash in, until he stopped just outside the ring.
As confetti rained down from the rafters, Orton smirked and then turned and started to walk back up the ramp towards the backstage. The warning had officially been issued, and Bryan would be ready for his first challenger. Or would he?
As the new champion turned to continue the party, he was met with a big boot to the gut from Triple H, the WWE's CEO, who had appointed himself as the special guest referee for the match. A vicious Pedigee later and the "unbiased" ref was counting to three for the second time in a matter of minutes, only this time handing Orton the WWE title belt to the shock of everyone.
What sort of game is "The Game" playing with the WWE Universe? Where will Orton, aka "the Viper," strike next? How will Bryan react to losing the championship he had dreamed of winning his whole life? And where does Cena fit in to the title picture?
Get your tickets for WWE Monday Night RAW, which returns to Phoenix and US Airways Center on Monday, Aug. 26, for the next chapter in the championship story!