At this point in time I believe the only reason WWE would release ‘The Viper’ is if he violated the Wellness Policy for a third time (which would leave them with no choice but to future endeavour him) or if he requested his release (and even that wouldn’t necessarily be agreed to). They will not do it by choice because Orton is of great use to them.
‘The Apex Predator’s’ popularity may not be what it was when he turned babyface in the first half of 2010 but he still provokes strong reactions from crowds and remains one of the company’s most over wrestlers. Looking passed the question of popularity Orton is one of WWE’s most accomplished grapplers. His matches are usually among the best on any show he appears on and he has developed the useful ability to help young stars advance even when beating them. They may not acknowledge the problem too often but WWE will be very aware that they are in need of fresh stars. They’ll know Orton is one of the few guys who can help in the building process too.
Those rumours I mentioned above state that he’s difficult to work with. I’m sure there’s an element of truth to that but WWE has dealt with difficult stars before and will again in the future. If Orton is difficult it is irrelevant because the promotion will be willing to overlook a lot to keep a star of his standing under contract and productive.
Wade Barrett benefitted from a feud with Randy Orton at the start of the year
Orton is currently suspended (obviously) and I expect that when he comes back he will be met with a significantly reduced push. WWE will understandably be wary about committing a lot to him again until they’re certain he can be relied upon. That can only come with time. I suspect that within a few months of his return (which he will be eligible to make on July 27th) he will be playing a heel. He’s done good work as a face but the company is running out of options for him in the role. A return to the dark side would help to freshen the guy up and allow him to work with some new opponents.
Hypothetically speaking if Orton were to leave WWE he could make a tidy living by signing up with a Japanese promotion and would inevitably receive a job offer from TNA too (perhaps they could induct him into their Hall of Fame upon his debut). Appearances for standout indies Ring of Honor and Dragon Gate USA would be unlikely but there are dozens of small-time companies that would pay what would assuredly be a hefty sum to have Orton headline their shows. After a year of that I am convinced WWE would hire him back.
The important thing to remember here is that Orton will not be going anywhere unless WWE’s hand is forced. I hope that doesn’t happen anytime soon.