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[2001-05-06-WWF-Sunday Night Heat] Billy Gunn vs Randy Orton

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On first glance maybe not the sort of match I would choose to check out (i.e. something involving Billy Gunn), but this is the WWF TV debut of Randy Orton.  I’m not sure if this ever aired in the U.S. as the versions on YouTube have it as a ‘Dark’ match, and there is no commentary track, although it definitely aired on Heat here in the U.K. and there is a version online from the German broadcast.  Orton gets some entrance music and even cuts a promo to dissimilate him from your regular jobber, which the crowd most likely, having never seen him before, view him as.  His promo was just the running down of a local sports team to garner some cheap and easy heat.  Young Randall gets the jump before the bell as he looks to gain an early advantage.  The Irish whip is reversed and Gunn with a drop toe hold as Orton starts to bump and fly about for him.  He ducks to the floor for a bit of a breather but ends up getting his head slammed into the ring steps.  Back inside he snatches a swinging arm and grabs Gunn for the full nelson slam.  ‘The One’ sits out of it to escape, however Orton then lifts him up and pancakes him to the mat.  He unloads with some punches from the mount before just blatantly choking him in front of the referee.  A clothesline line gets him a two count.  The attempted backdrop is telegraphed and Gunn takes over, landing a backdrop of his own followed by a powerslam.  After a clothesline he keeps hold of the arm, lifts Orton back up to his feet and then plants him with the Love Gunn (Cobra clutch slam) for the win.

A competitive match in which Orton looked good.  We don’t have any OVW post-February at the time of writing, so it will be a case of retroactively watching that stuff later, but you can see clear improvement in Orton.  He doesn’t look phased in this environment and it’s fairly obvious that the WWF has big things planned for him.

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