Really?2009 Orton is way better than the current Orton.
First, I would like to say that you have a really good memory. Very well written post and this might have changed my mind, but my only problem with Orton in 2011 compared to 2009 is the "underwhelming borefest" that is his gimmick/mic work. He doesn't even try anymore, he has an emotionless bland wrestler gimmick atm and it sucks. I would rather see him as a heel doing the awesome "heelish" antics he did previously. I think he was one of the few men that kept WWE afloat in 2009 :\Really?
He was one of the leading players in the underwhelming borefest that was the 2009 Royal Rumble.
His match with Shane McMahon at No Way Out was awful. Not his fault. I mean, he's wrestling Shane. But it stank.
Stunk up Wrestlemania. Again, not really all his fault, but let's be clear, the match was a failure. The stipulation worked against them, and while Triple H/Orton worked like gangbusters on a storyline level, their '09 matches are just nothing to write home about.
Backlash. Mmm, this was a weird six-man tag that was somehow for the WWE Championship. Orton was okay in it. The match was okay. Barely memorable at all, though.
His series with Batista at Judgment Day and Extreme Rules? Shitty. With Orton playing the heel and Batista the face, their matches are garbage. A year later with them playing opposite roles on Raw, they had 10x the match on free TV. Atrocious matches at those PPVs, though. The Extreme Rules one isn't really down to either Orton or Batista, though. Crappy booking, based I guess on Batista's injury at the time. Still, these matches were awful.
Orton/Triple H at The Bash. Not what it should have been, even with a vastly more favorable stipulation than Wrestlemania. I was live in attendance and the match was just, again, okay, and it kind of made a mockery of the "3 Stages of Hell" stipulation, especially if we base it on the 2001 classic between Trips and SCSA.
Orton/Cena/Triple H at Night of Champions. Okay. It's another case where Triple H/Cena as a match-up can more or less do no wrong. A lot like WM 24, though, Orton's involvement somehow drags it down. I hated how he was being booked as a cowardly chickenshit heel with Dusty finishes and bullshit conclusions, though, too, so again, not all his fault. But still nothing to write home about at all.
Summerslam '09. Probably the single worst match Cena and Orton have ever had against each other. The overselling one minute in gives me a migraine. They were just utterly off that night. The three or fifteen finishes made it even worse. I only thank God I started going to Summerslam a year later because if I had been at Staples for this I would have been throwing up from the shit spectacle.
Breaking Point '09. His one excellent pay-per-view outing of the entire year. Whoever booked this was brilliant. Orton played his part exceedingly well, and so did Cena. Their whole feud at this time was unworthy of this match, that's the only major criticism I can throw at it. Nevertheless, great effort. Note, however, that it was a gimmick match in which Orton fundamentally stalked Cena around beating him senseless with weapons. Not exactly a technical masterpiece in terms of grappling.
Hell in a Cell '09. At the time I thought it was all right but beyond a moment where the steps get thrown and Orton's facial expression as he finishes Cena off, I can't remember a thing about it so I doubt it would hold up very well. Those moments were all right, however.
Bragging Rights '09. One of the ultimate examples of a match withering under the scrutiny of age and time. It just doesn't hold up. The first twenty minutes are solid, and the finish--or the idea of it, actually--is pretty sweet, but a lot of it is over-the-top. Which I guess is okay considering that it was intended (ha... ha...) as the blowoff between Cena and Orton, or at least at that time it was. But... Just nothing all that great, frankly. It's incredible how much more chemistry Cena has with just about all of the other main-eventers of the previous era--Triple H, Batista, Edge, Jericho, even JBL with a gimmick attached to it--than he does with Orton, even today.
Survivor Series '09. Match itself was pretty great but Orton's involvement was only one piece of the ten-man puzzle and it wasn't all that big, honestly. The performances by Kofi Kingston and CM Punk kind of stole the show here.
TLC. Probably Orton's second best PPV match of the year, at least in a one-on-one environment. I actually still think the match is underrated, and Orton's slow, methodical pacing and style as a heel worked best against a guy who brought energy and unpredictability to the bout in Kofi. It tells a basic, simple story, that of a babyface midcarder standing up to the company's most feared villain at the time and making one crucial mistake (the crossbody attempt Orton counters with a great dropkick on the floor) that effectively costs him the match.
That doesn't even take into account the general tone of tedium of most of Orton's TV matches. A decent streetfight with Triple H in England, some okay tag matches with the right people, a match with Ted DiBiase that was 99% storyline and 1% physicality, are just about all I can remember from his run at that time. The rest is a blur of a thousand and one chinlocks and evil facial expressions.
Let's compare that to 2011.
Match with The Miz at The Royal Rumble. Admittedly, not Orton's finest hour, but it's not an outright bad match. There's a pacing issue here, and it's mostly in the middle of the match. It's like someone backstage forgot to tell them what to do with all the time they had in the middle stretch of the match, so it just kind of drones on and on. The finishing sequence, though, is just fine, in fact it's a little bit exhilarating. It is strange to me that Miz and Orton had a better match on free TV on a Smackdown episode in late December than either of their PPV battles, but whatever.
His performance inside the 'Chamber was pretty great. He played the fucked over face very well against CM Punk.
Match with CM Punk at Wrestlemania. Underrated. Sometimes you have to accept a piece of art for what it is rather than what you wish it were. I might wish Inglourious Basterds was more of an energetic homage to The Dirty Dozen or something (in actuality, I don't) but ultimately I have to accept that it isn't. Would I have opted for a somewhat more back and forth match? Probably. But the story they told fit the angle, and vice versa. As such, it's one of the more rigorous matches of the year.
Extreme Rules with Punk. Something of a letdown, honestly. Opening the show was a peculiar choice. The feud had about zero heat left at this point, and while some of the action was engaging, there were elements of it that simply fell flat.
Then we come to Orton going over to Smackdown and putting on a bunch of terrific TV matches, firstly with Christian, then with Sheamus and then all the way back around to Christian again last week inside the cage. Over the Limit 2011 might be the best non-gimmick match in Orton's career. It's crisp, it's smooth, it's harmonic. Capitol Punishment is a strong match, though not up to the ridiculous OTL standards. And then there's Money in the Bank, a rich feud-extending bout that was brimming with psychology from both participants. They topped it off with a violent, brutal war at Summerslam that may have outdone Over the Limit, though the matches are strikingly similar and different all at once that it's difficult to go either way.
It seems to me that those who say Orton was better as a worker in 2009 are really saying, "I wish he were a heel still!"
In short, I agree with the OP and have been saying this lately around here, too. Orton at age 31 is now in his prime; he's clocked enough time in the main event level to be a grizzled vet on one hand but he's still young and capable of putting on highly-engaging matches with some ferocity and kineticism, particularly when paired with the right worker. He's having an in-ring renaissance of sorts and it's fun to watch occur right now.
Ah, okay. Well, thank you for the kind words.First, I would like to say that you have a really good memory. Very well written post and this might have changed my mind, but my only problem with Orton in 2011 compared to 2009 is the "underwhelming borefest" that is his gimmick/mic work. He doesn't even try anymore, he has an emotionless bland wrestler gimmick atm and it sucks. I would rather see him as a heel doing the awesome "heelish" antics he did previously. I think he was one of the few men that kept WWE afloat in 2009 :\
I do agree that his ring work is a lot better today, and his matches with Christian will go down in history as some of the best.