The reality of his past
Behind the curtain, Randy’s been accused of having an attitude problem in the past—an assertion confirmed by many former wrestlers and the man himself—that manifested itself into in-ring blowups, backstage incidents, vandalism and harassment. This version of the man who did that has become the silhouette of the persona acted out by the wrestler holding the WWE title heading into Survivor Series, colored in by PG leanings and Orton’s genuine maturation. To his credit, Randy’s gotten over those problems, crediting marriage and the birth of his daughter as stabilizing forces that allowed him to self-evaluate his behavior. Having defeated these issues, Randy’s become good at playing out the attitude that spurred the issues that he used to have.
Translating past into present
Randy’s current persona has showed immaturity, yelling at authority figures, innocent trainers, and helpless doctors. His persona has showed gross insecurity, anxiously and repeatedly asking the Shield if they supported him and angrily asking the same of the Authority. He’s whined and complained, often speaking about how no one helped him in encounters with the World’s Largest Athlete and then saying that the Big Show is an insurmountable mountain that he will not be able to conquer. And he’s even had temper tantrums on screen—which he was notorious for in real life—throwing around the ice in the training room and screaming at the doctor who tried to treat him weeks ago. In this current character, Randy’s captured the essence of the terror that he was and transferred it to the character that he is. He’s done it so well that I half-expect to see a segment where someone finds their belongings vandalized in the locker room, only for Orton to walk away smirking and laughing. (Come to think of it. Maybe his real life vandalism has been the reason why the vandalism tactic has been used against him repeatedly on screen.)
The vile heel
While Randy Orton’s behind the scenes behavior has improved by leaps and bounds, (and by the fact that he has two strikes) he has not forgotten where his dubious past. He’s been able to successfully draw on that past to create a markedly unbearable character that’s easy to hate but rooted in reality. We all know that Show will lose on Sunday, but Orton’s giving us a helluva show composing this heel persona that seems vulnerable and repugnant.