Old School Flashback: Yes, Randy Orton’s Grandfather Loved Restholds, Too

by Daniel Johnson


Bob Orton vs. Billy Hickson

About half of a century before Randy Orton, founder of The Randy Orton School of Restholds and master of the extended chinlock wrestled his first WWE match, his grandfather “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Sr. debuted in 1951. In this bout preserved by Chicago Film Archives through the Russ and Sylvia Davis Collection, 1932-1970 Orton wrestled Billy Hickson at the Chicago International Amphitheatre for Fred Kohler’s NWA territory.

Prior to becoming a cowboy Orton went by the name “The Big O,” which is name that sounds like it would offend a certain customer in the 1994 film, Clerks. Even with kayfabe being what it was back then I’m half surprised that commentator Russ Davis didn’t take a jab at Orton over this given his politically incorrect humor. At any rate Orton wrestled all the way up to 1980 and helped establish the NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight Championship, a title with a rich history, held by the likes of Eddie Graham, Hiro Matsuda and Boris Malenko. It even exists today as the NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship.

This performance took place fairly early in Orton’s career when he had yet another nickname. As Davis jokes, “The babyface villain, he’s incapable of smiling or doing anything else.” Now, maybe it’s just me, but I think Davis is being a little hard on Orton. It’s not like this match has a tenth of the yawn factor Orton’s grandson would later have in matches with John Cena. Yet, make no mistake about it, this match is a slow one.

Despite Hickson obviously being the smaller man he gains an early advantage by taking Orton down and applying an armbar. Orton powers out and gets to his feet, but Hickson keeps on the armbar. Back then restholds were barely restholds as while not all matches had a slow pace, plenty of marquee bouts did. That being said it is difficult to call Orton’s leg split hold anything but a resthold as he is essentially just standing there holding Hickson’s legs as Hickson lies down.

The feeling of the match changes considerably after Orton gives Hickson some closed fists to the face, which he hides with his long arms. This riles up Hickson as Davis says, “Our Mr. Hickson is turning into an eager beaver.” Before The Big O explodes on the beaver, Hickson ties Orton up in the ropes and takes some shots of his own.

The end comes when Orton executes a powerbomb of all moves. Of course back then no one had ever heard of a powerbomb so it is just called a reverse backdrop. Orton gets a little more heel heat after the match by giving Hickson a cheap shot to the gut while he is still down. Orton then feigns a display of good sportsmanship, but kicks Hickson in the gut instead.

The full match can be seen right here:

For more in the Old School Flashback series featuring performers whose offspring would one day wrestle click here and here.

Categories: Wrestling Clips

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1 reply


  1. Old School Flashback: Politically Incorrect 1950’s Announcer Calls a Women’s Match | The Johnson Transcript

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