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JONESBORO, Ark. – While many WWE fans were watching the action live at the ASU Convocation Center on Monday, several experienced the action up close and personal before the show ever even began.
Anthony Martin is a business professional in Jonesboro. From being active in local politics to being the assistant branch manager at a bank on Main Street in downtown Jonesboro, Martin can usually be seen with a smile on his face and friendly demeanor.
Like many in the Mid-South, he is a fan of professional wrestling, from when he watched WCW’s Sting in the 1990s, to today, where he doesn’t keep up with it as much but still enjoys the entertainment.
So on Monday, while Martin and his friends were at The Trim Gym in Jonesboro, they immediately noticed a familiar face in the gym – the 12-time world champion, veteran WWE star Randy Orton. Martin knew he had to get a photo with the celebrity.
“I approached him by myself and said, ‘Can I get a picture of you?,'” Martin said. “He gave me a fist bump and replied, ‘Sorry. I can’t hear you,’ pointing to his ear phones. We went our separate ways.”
Leaving Orton alone, Martin said he decided to snap a photo of the wrestler from across the room:
However, as Martin described – and as seems to be visible in the photo – this enraged the wrestling star.
“He saw me snap the picture and came up to me got in my face and said, ‘What the f**k are you doing? I said no **ddamn pictures! Are you f**king stupid?'” Martin said. “I said, ‘No. You said you couldn’t hear me.”
Cody Halstead is one of Martin’s friends who was at the gym with him. He told NEA Report what he saw transpire.
“(Orton) said, ‘I can’t hear you, bro,’ and walked away,” Halstead said. “So Anthony walked back and took a picture anyways and then Randy came over to Anthony, grabbed his hand and was belittling Anthony and pretty much was saying m’fer this, m’fer that.”
The tirade continued, both described, but Martin kept his cool and remained calm. Being a police officer in Cash and Craighead County for ten years taught him not to escalate the situation, he said.
“Still in my face, I said no disrespect man,” Martin said. “‘If you want, I can delete it.’ He said, ‘Yeah. F***ing delete it!’ I said, ‘Okay, seriously, no disrespect.'”
That’s when Martin said the pro wrestler took a step back. Martin’s police training came into play, he said.
“I stepped with him knowing that if he was going to hit me that he had no power if I stayed close,” Martin said. “My three friends were very close behind and then he said “F*** it. Keep the f**king picture. Enjoy your workout.'”
Halstead said he was watching the confrontation and, just as Martin described, wandered near his friend to have his back.
“I dropped my weights and turned to him and said, ‘There’s no need for language like that,'” Halstead said. “Anthony explained himself and (Orton) said, ‘Enjoy your workout,’ and walked away.
Martin said he was very surprised by the way the WWE star had reacted. He said if Orton had simply approached him and asked him not to take his picture, he would have respected it.
“I just thought it was awesome that a WWE superstar was working out in the same gym as me,” Martin said. “He way over reacted and could have handled himself a little more professional. It’s not like he was in the ring and having to be a tough guy in front of thousands of people.”
While WWE star John Cena visited several establishments in Jonesboro, taking photos with fans and making many smile along the way, Martin said the master of the RKO did not endear himself to anyone in the aforementioned incident.
“I am not his fan,” Martin said. “Matter of fact I never liked him.”