WWE star Randy Orton says he wasn’t ready to be youngest champion at 24, talks docuseries episode

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WWE star Randy Orton will be among the focal points of the new season of A&E’s docuseries “Biography: WWE Legends” on Sunday as the show looks back from his younger years to how he came to have a successful run in the company.

Orton, a third-generation WWE performer, made his way up the ranks from Ohio Valley Wrestling to the main roster. In his early 20s, he was in a faction alongside Paul “Triple H” Levesque, Ric Flair and Dave Bautista (simply known as Batista) and contending for the World Heavyweight Championship.

He became the No. 1 contender for the championship after winning a battle royal in July 2004. He then defeated Chris Benoit at the subsequent SummerSlam event to become the youngest World Heavyweight Champion at age 24. He would drop the title to Levesque a month later, sparking a breakup of their faction and deepening the on-screen feud.

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Randy Orton is shown during WWE Smackdown at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York City, on Dec. 1, 2023. (Cora Veltman/Sportico via Getty Images)

Orton told Fox News Digital in a recent interview that he was nowhere near ready to become the face of the company with one of the top WWE belts at the time.

“That’s probably why I only had it for a month,” he said. “It was definitely too much too soon, but I think that chance the company took on me, that’s one of the accolades I’ll always have. I don’t know that there’s another 24-year-old on the roster that could possibly come in and be a younger world champion than I was when I won it.”

“I think I had a lot of maturing and growing up to do back then at 24 years old. But to be given a taste of what it was to be the face of the company and to be the No. 1 guy on the roster, like, although I wasn’t ready for it, it gave me the tools I needed to win when I did mature. I was ready. I’d been there and had a taste. Now, I knew how to kind of navigate that role and over the years I did a little better and a little better and a little better.”

Orton added that he can now imprint his own wisdom at 43 years old onto some of the younger talent that has emerged in the WWE.

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Randy Orton vs Triple H

Randy Orton, top, and Triple H compete during the WWE Super Showdown event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Jan. 7, 2019. (Avmer Hilabi/AFP via Getty Images)

Orton’s episode will also touch on his early life and his time as a U.S. Marine. He received a bad-conduct discharge in 1999 after he went AWOL twice and disobeyed a direct order, serving time in the brig at Camp Pendleton in California before going home.

He explained the incident to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in 2021, but he said he wanted the episode to go more in-depth about what happened.

“I heavily respect the military and what they do,” Orton told Fox News Digital. “And I felt it was important to kind of [give] in and talk about the whys and whats that led me getting the bad-conduct discharge.”

Overall, Orton said he wouldn’t change anything about his life and is “100% happy” with how it has turned out.

Randy Orton in August 2015

Randy Orton enters the ring during the WWE SummerSlam 2015 event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York City, on Aug. 23, 2015. (JP Yim/Getty Images)

“I think everything happens for a reason, but what would I tell my younger self? Probably not be such an a–hole. I’m not talking about my military career, as short-lived as it was, but I’m talking about my first decade in the business. I had some growing up to do. I didn’t go to college and didn’t experience that part of my life until I was on the road.”

“Everything happens for a reason, man. And I’ve lived a hell of a life. I’ve got a lot more to do in this business, and I’m not going to take one second, one minute for granted that I’m in that ring.”

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Orton’s episode premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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