Who invented the RKO? The innovators behind sports-entertainment’s best maneuvers

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March 26, 2013

Who invented the RKO?

Randy Orton’s RKO has taken out every heavy hitter from Hulk Hogan to John Cena. So it may come as a surprise that the maneuver was innovated by John Laurinaitis — the former Raw General Manager who is better known to the WWE Universe for his misguided governance than his Japanese ring career.

The RKO, or as I call it, the Ace Crusher, was invented back in 1987,” the onetime Johnny Ace told WWEClassics.com. “I was a young kid training and Barry Windham said to me, ‘Why don’t you do a front face neckbreaker as a move?’ ”

It wasn’t until Laurinaitis headed to All Japan Pro Wrestling in ’88 that he debuted the maneuver. In the ring with studs like “Dr. Death” Steve Williams and Kenta Kobashi, the tag team specialist needed a move that would stand out. When he dropped his first Ace Crusher in Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall, the audience was appropriately blown away.

“The crowd cheered and then went into an awe, because they’d never seen a move like that before,” Laurinaitis remembered.

Big Johnny later showed Diamond Dallas Page how to perform the maneuver, which Page redubbed the Diamond Cutter. DDP, in turn, passed it on to Randy Orton.

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