They call him "The Legend Killer," and at 6'5" and 245 pounds, St. Louis' Randy Orton (the latest member of a family of pro wrestlers that dates back three generations) has earned the moniker, laying to waste some of the sport's top names in the ring. But ask the 25-year-old former world champ-the youngest in WWE history-what he considers his greatest achievement, and he'll tell you he's barely even broken a sweat.
Men's Fitness: Being the son of "Cowboy" Bob Orton and grandson of Bob Orton Sr., do you feel pressured to kick even more ass than they did?
Randy Orton: I grew up around the business, and I guess I just have a natural ability to do what we do, because it all came to me pretty quickly. I got my break at 19 and, not to take anything away from my father or grandfather, but careerwise, I've accomplished more in a year and a half than they did in 20 years.
MF: So what was it like growing up with wrestlers all around?
RO: I remember being 6 years old and Andre the Giant was at our house. He wanted to see my dad's gym in the basement, so I followed them down the stairs. All of a sudden - boom! - Andre tore the banister completely off the wall. He was laughing like a big ape. We never did fix it.
MF: When you started wrestling, were your fellow athletes jealous that you already had your boot in the door?
RO: Well, I trained hard and spent time in the "minor leagues." I had people who weren't too fond of me, but I never took my advantages for granted or rubbed it in anyone's face.
MF: Before wrestling, you spent some time in the Marines but later went AWOL.
RO: I saw some hazing. It didn't happen to me, but I went to my battalion commander about it, and as a result, no one liked me anymore. I wanted a discharge, so I took off. I eventually got a bad-conduct discharge.
MF: So we take it you won't be going over to Iraq to entertain the troops anytime soon?
RO: I have a lot of respect for the military, but the WWE knows I won't do that. I'm afraid Marines would come to me in my sleep, tie me up, and throw me in a minefield or something. [Laughs]
MF: Despite critics who say pro wrestlers aren't "real" athletes, you're obviously in great shape. What are your workouts like?
RO: I do a lot of core exercises - they help me maintain size and strength. I hold my body in a plank [a pushup position but resting on your forearms] for as long as I can. I used to only be able to hold it for 10 seconds, but now I'm up to seven and a half minutes. With weights, I train very light and do a lot of repetitions. Wrestlers can't lift heavy because, given our lifestyle, we'd never recover.
MF: What about supplements?
RO: I learned a lot from [former WWE champion] Chris Benoit. He doesn't like shaker cups because they get dirty and stink so quickly. So he'll take two scoops of protein powder and put it in his mouth dry, then put a little water in and shake his head around. I used to look at him and think, "Damn, that's hardcore!" Then one day I was like, "Fuck this shaker," and I started doing it the Benoit way.
MF: Wrestlers are always on the road. How do you stay pumped when you're traveling so much?
RO: I'm either flying or driving around the country four to five days a week. I look for gyms on the highway and try to get a workout in or a tan. Wrestlers depend on eating at two in the morning at Denny's and hoping they don't put butter in our scrambled eggs. Till then, we go to gas stations looking for pistachios and eat them with water. A lot of people have the misconception that, like athletes in the NBA or NFL, we get treated like kings. It's the opposite. I pay for my rental car, my food, and my hotel.
MF: Any plans for a big crossover in the future, like John Cena or The Rock have done?
RO: If something happened to me that meant I couldn't wrestle, I would definitely take acting classes to see what I was capable of. If someone approached me with a movie project and [WWE owner] Vince McMahon OK'd it, then sure. But I'm not looking for that right now; I'm just about wrestling. I want to be a 10-time world champion.
You can catch WWE superstar Randy Orton in action on Friday Night Smackdown!