Jim Cornette had a hand in developing many talents in OVW. But one he didn't think would become a star ended up becoming one of the biggest stars of the modern era.
He spoke to Chris Jericho recently on Talk Is Jericho where he talked about the talent he helped cultivate during his run with Ohio Valley Wrestling. When Randy Orton was brought up, he said that he was wrong initially about Orton -- he thought that he didn't have the passion or drive to make it in the business.
I don't think originally he was into the business as much as he should have, but he had it in his genes. Cornette said. He is sitting in the announcer's desk in the Davis Arena, and watching one of the classes. He didn't know that the microphone on the desk was on because Danny [Davis] was recording on video the class that was going on in the ring. He turned the microphone on and Randy said that he only here for the damn $750 a week. Danny loved that; he brought him in the next day in his office when he had all his equipment and he played what Randy had said, but he's made more money since.
He also talked about others that were pushed hard in OVW, but were brought up on the main roster with either a midcard push or a terrible gimmick. Batista, who was originally pushed as the massive, unbeatable Leviathan in OVW, was called up as a bodyguard for Reverend D-Von using his real name. Fortunately, Batista found out that working out and training with a certain someone would help open doors:
The most over gimmick we ever had, and people gave him standing ovations was Leviathan, the Demon of the Deep [Batista], the right hand of Satan himself... He was 6'5, massive, tattoos; so we put the chain around his neck. We put the contact lenses in; and he was invulnerable; unstoppable, sold nothing, never did a job. He beat up 2-3 people at a time. He was powered by the sorcery of the dark side," Cornette said. "We were thinking that he can steal pay per views with The Undertaker, Kane, Big Show; at the time i think Foley and Steve Austin, all those top guys; yeah, he was injury prone and a bit older, so his window was short and thought that we should get him while he is hot, for 5-7 years, which is what his career ran. He doesn't need to be on television every week; let's create an attraction for the big guy. Him and Undertaker, that is why I brought both Kane and Undertaker to the Gardens to work with him because I had done the same thing to Kane was in Smoky Mountain, I had brought Undertaker to help him; and I told them both that this is their future pay per view opponent so now you take him and see what you can do with him, and if you can get the things you want out of him then you go tell the boss that they have a guy they can make money with. We did all that and tailor-made gimmick for Undertaker, Kane and Big Show, and they bring him up and put him with D-Von, hang that thing around his neck and put a suit on him to cover up his muscles. I had lost my mind; then they were on the verge of firing him until he started working out with Triple H.
Once he started being pals with Triple H, Batista moved to the Raw roster and ditched the Reverend D-Von gimmick. He went on to be one of the biggest stars during the mid 2000s, and now is a relatively popular movie star, starring in the recent Blade Runner 2049 as well as the Guaridans of the Galaxy movies.