Agreed. I believe he peaked as a character during the Taker feud in 2005.
Match wise I think he was better than ever in 2011. The only time I could really stand his in-ring character work since 2007 when he first started his "slow-walking" phase. I truly believe his character work as a heel from 2008-2010 was some of the worst main event character work in company history, just seemed so uninspired. When it came to his in-ring work, 2011 is his best year IMO.
Couple that with the fact that I only have like.. TWO Orton singles matches at **** 1/2+ I can't really consider him an ELITE worker. Both of those matches are from far superior workers as well (Foley, Benoit). I still consider Orton to be a pretty good worker overall though.
It's almost like he had unlimited potential back in 04 as The Legend Killer and it just never really came to fruition.
Blame DA GAME.
Actually I blame whichever idiot thought it was a good idea to turn a cocky, pretty boy looking asshole to a bald-headed, druggie looking psychopath. I think he's done his job pretty well for the role he got after becoming the 'Viper' but he's just much better than that. Also wish he had never gotten those arm sleeves. The tribal tattoos were awesome and all he needed. Even if they have "absolutely no meaning" in his own words.