Randy Orton Made His Long-Awaited Return to WWE After a Nearly Two-Year Hiatus

Allison DeGrushe - Author

Nov. 28 2023, Updated 3:06 p.m. ET

Randy Orton does his signature pose at WWE SummerSlam 2015.
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • Randy Orton is widely considered one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time.
  • In May 2022, it was announced that Randy suffered a legitimate back injury.
  • Randy made his long-awaited return to the WWE on Nov. 25, 2023.
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If you haven't been keeping up, the WWE has undergone significant transformations recently, making it challenging for the fans to stay in the loop. Beyond a notable sale leading to a merger with the UFC, creative directions have also shifted for various wrestling superstars.

These creative shifts have raised concerns among the fanbase, especially with Randy Orton's extended absence from the company. Fortunately, fans can breathe a sigh of relief as "The Viper" has officially returned to the ring! But before we discuss Randy Orton's long-awaited comeback, let's learn more about his hiatus.

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Randy Orton enters the ring at WWE SummerSlam 2015 at Barclays Center on Aug. 23, 2015.
Source: Getty Images

What happened to Randy Orton?

After WrestleMania 37, Randy began working with Matt Riddle as a tag team dubbed RK-Bro. The pair dominated the tag team division for nearly a year before losing to The Usos in a title unification match on the May 20, 2022, episode of SmackDown. A few days later, reports announced that Randy suffered a legitimate back injury.

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The 14-time WWE champion underwent back fusion surgery in late 2022, and, according to Randy's father, WWE Hall of Famer Bob Orton, his doctors strongly advised against him returning to the WWE.

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"He's training, so we'll see what happens; I don't know," Bob said in May 2023 via Ringside News. "If he feels like he's ready to go back, I think he might, but then again, he's pretty well taken care of. I don't think he needs to. And I think the doctors have told him not to. But Randy will do what Randy wants to do."

Randy Orton returned to WWE at Survivor Series: WarGames 2023.

During the Nov. 20, 2023 episode of Raw, it was revealed that Randy Orton would make his long-awaited return to WWE at Survivor Series: WarGames 2023 as the fifth member of Cody Rhodes' team in the WarGames main event match against The Judgment Day and Drew McIntyre.

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At the event, Randy was the last entrant in the match. He was the MVP for the team, taking down Judgment Day and unleashing a barrage of jaw-dropping moments. One highlight was the epic move where Sami Zayn and Seth Rollins tossed JD McDonagh from the top of the cage, only for Randy to catch him mid-air with an earth-shattering RKO.

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During a post-show press conference, Triple H said he was "incredibly happy" for Randy Orton.

"When you have the kind of injury that he had, where things are touch and go, I've been there, where they tell you you might never do this again," Triple H told reporters. "That's a rough experience ... to be able to have what he had done and come back here tonight and have the moment that he had was awesome, and I'm so happy for him."

He added, "You have no idea what performers and athletes go through when they've been gone for a long period of time ... The tricks that your mind plays on you, to wonder if anyone's gonna care, to wonder if it'll matter, to wonder if you still can do this. No matter how good you are, no matter how confident you are, that runs through your head. So to get him out there tonight, blow the roof off this place in Chicago, and have the moment that he did, awesome, and I'm incredibly happy for him."

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