UPDATE: The reports were true. Randy Orton was not able to compete at Backlash tonight. The WWE dealt with this by having Bray Wyatt “injure” Orton backstage, seemingly breaking his leg. Instead, Wyatt faced Kane, but Orton shocked the audience by coming out at the end of the match to deliver an RKO and allow Kane to win.
Randy Orton will not be able to perform at WWE’s Backlash pay-per-view this evening due to injury.
The news originally came from Pro Wrestling Sheet reporter James McKenna, who reported on Sunday afternoon that WWE superstar Randy Orton is currently dealing with an undisclosed injury. He was supposedly expected to be cleared by this evening, but that did not end up happening.
Later, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter confirmed this report.
“Since then, we had several people within the company say that they believed (Orton off the show) was the case but were unable to say with certainty,” he said. “It has not been confirmed exactly what the injury is, although Orton took a legitimate beating from Lesnar’s elbows on the ground, which sliced him up (at SummerSlam).”
No card change has been announced, but this is obviously going to have a major impact on Backlash. Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton is one of only six matches scheduled for tonight’s SmackDown-exclusive pay-per-view. Already fans are beginning to wonder how the WWE might deal with Orton’s legitimate injury. Some wonder if they could incorporate it into the storyline, perhaps explaining that Wyatt injured Orton backstage before the match even happened.
As far as who, if anyone, might replace Randy Orton in the match, some fans are speculating that it could be Kane. This is in part based on the fact that at a recent live show in Raleigh, North Carolina, Randy Orton was unable to perform and was replaced by Kane, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
As recently as earlier this afternoon, the WWE was still promoting the Randy Orton Backlash match on Twitter.
Randy Orton just recently returned to the WWE after a 10 month absence. He sustained a shoulder injury at October 2015’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, requiring him to take nearly a year off. He did not return for a match until the end of July 2016, and at August’s SummerSlam, he fought and was defeated by Brock Lesnar.
Backlash airs tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on the WWE Network. The main event is a battle between Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles, with the WWE World Championship on the line. That’s one of four titles up for grabs this evening, in addition to the SmackDown Women’s Championship, the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, and the WWE Intercontinental Championship.