by Phil Speer
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Sept. 23, 2002 -- While he took time off to recover from a concussion, Randy Orton gained 10-15 pounds of lean muscle.
“I had wanted to put on some size because I felt I was a little too small, but now I feel I can do anything,” said the third-generation competitor. “I had a month off with nothing to do, so I just hit the gym and ate right.”
He said he also had the opportunity to evaluate his career in World Wrestling Entertainment thus far.
“I’m ready to go out and show the people that I can hang with the big boys,” he said.
Now he’ll get the chance.
Orton, along with The Hurricane, jumped to RAW from SmackDown! tonight. Orton wrestled Steven Richards, picking up the victory in his first-ever match on live television.
“Ironically, I was not nervous at all,” he said. “I was more enthusiastic and excited. I knew that as I was out there, my dad in St. Louis was watching.”
Orton talked to his father, Cowboy Bob, immediately after the match to get his comments. Randy said his dad also taped the match, and once he gets back to St. Louis, “we’ll probably watch it back about a dozen times.”
He added, “Being that there is a lot of young talent (on SmackDown!), there’s not as much of an opportunity as there is over here. This show is 10 times more challenging, but I’m up for the challenge. I know it’s going to take a while for people to get to know me, but I think I’ll be given a chance to show them who I am.”
Orton said he found out he was moving to RAW on Friday. He said he’d miss his friends on SmackDown!, particularly his traveling partner, John Cena, but Orton started traveling with WWE long before he made his television debut, and long before the brand extension, so he already knows the Superstars on RAW.
Meanwhile, the Hurricane made an even bigger impact in his post-brand-extension RAW debut, teaming with Kane to defeat Lance Storm and Christian and win the WWE Tag Team Championship.
“I’m excited as hell about it, obviously,” he said. “Winning the Tag Team Titles is one of the biggest things of my career, so I’m ecstatic.”
The real-life Shane Helms said he didn’t know he would be coming to RAW until after the conclusion of Sunday’s Unforgiven, but he didn’t mind.
“I’ll basically do anything as long as I’m still The Hurricane,” he said.
“I had lots of fun in the cruiserweight division, but I’ve already been Cruiserweight Champion. There’s goals over here that I want to accomplish that I couldn’t accomplish over on SmackDown! There’s the Tag Team Title and the Intercontinental Title, as well as the big title … and right now they’re on RAW.”
Hurricane is leaving his good friends Shannon Moore, Matt Hardy and Funaki behind on SmackDown!, but he also has pals on RAW, including Booker T, Christian, Lance Storm, Chris Jericho and Bubba Ray Dudley.
“I’m friends with everybody though,” he added.
The fans seem to like him as well. The crowd at the Arrowhead Pond gave Hurricane a raucous ovation when he was introduced as Kane’s mystery partner.
“My fans are pretty loyal.,” he said. “You always hoping for god reactions. And that’s really what gets me going. To go out there and get a reaction like that, it gets me going.”
Hurricane said it’s “awesome” to have Kane as his partner, who is “probably an even bigger legend than he realizes.” He said he’d love to team with his “freaky” partner for the long-term.
“As long as I can,” he said. “I’ve always been pretty successful in tag teams. I’ve wrestled as a tag team more than I have as a singles. To have somebody like Kane be my backup as opposed to a smaller guy … like on SmackDown! I was teaming with Shannon Moore, I was the big man on the team. So being with someone like (Kane) is a big plus for me.”