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Most punishing RKOs ever
It’s not easy making prey of the WWE locker room or killing legends unless, of course, you have the proper artillery. In Randy Orton’s case, it’s athleticism, cunning instinct and flawlessly crafted in-ring ability. But perhaps his greatest armament is the RKO.
These aren’t just The Apex Predator’s birth given initials; these three letters represent the device Orton has used to fell champions, icons, immortals and everything in between. Whether you love or loathe the multiple-time former WWE and World Heavyweight Champion, there is no denying that Orton has made some indelible impact in his ever-evolving career via his signature weapon.
Any time, any place, any way, any one within The Viper's crosshairs. Just ask the Superstars below in a timeline of the top RKOs.
WRESTLEMANIA XX – March 14, 2004
Perhaps one of the most resonant RKOs in The Legend Killer's initially budding career was exacted at WrestleMania XX. Naysayers thought Orton was finally going to flavor humility (which actually tasted like Mick Foley's sweatsock) at the 20-year celebration of the annual extravaganza. However, armed with arrogance and backed by Batista & Ric Flair, Orton pulled the trigger on a Socko-wielding Foley to secure the victory for Evolution.
WRESTLEMANIA 21 – April 3, 2005
In 2005, The Legend Killer focused his crosshairs on perhaps the greatest of legacies in WWE: Undertaker and his famed WrestleMania winning streak. Coming within inches of spoiling The Phenom's running accomplishment, Randy Orton craftily slipped out of his opponent's chokeslam and clutched The Deadman's neck for a near deal-sealing RKO.
SURVIVOR SERIES – Nov. 28, 2005
At the 2005 Survivor Series, Randy Orton confirmed that the bigger they are, the harder they fall ... to the RKO. Representing Team SmackDown against a squad of Raw counterparts, the lithe predator leapt high to clinch a weakened Big Show's vast neck in his arms, bringing down 500 pounds of mass to the mat. Orton later leveled Shawn Michaels with the same signature move to be the sole survivor of the 10-man bout.
SMACKDOWN – March 24, 2006
Proving his ability to hit the RKO from just about any angle, at any given moment, Randy Orton materialized mid-ring, mid-West Coast Pop to drive Rey Mysterio mask-first into the mat on March 24, 2006
SATURDAY NIGHT’S MAIN EVENT – July 15, 2006
For a conniving multi-generational Superstar like Randy Orton, no legend (even an "immortal" one) is untouchable. In the summer of 2006, Hulk Hogan made a rare appearance on Saturday Night's Main Event at the Legend Killer's request, unknowingly stumbling into a well spun scheme by his irreverent nemesis. The red and yellow succumbed to a unique "drive-by" RKO on the hood of his luxury sedan.
UNFORGIVEN – Sept. 17, 2006
Randy Orton's short-lived rivalry with Carlito ended almost as quick as The Viper's instincts at the climax of their Unforgiven 2006 encounter. Carlito took a risk by springing from rope to rope to his limber foe, and Orton ensured an uncomfortable landing. It might not have been "cool" for Carlito, but the WWE Universe watching would certainly disagree.
WRESTLEMANIA 23 – April 1, 2007
Mid-Money in the Bank Ladder Match, CM Punk was left with a negative balance at WrestleMania 23, courtesy of Randy Orton. The crowd – and several Superstars – were already stunned from a triumvirate of RKOs on the mat. Then, as The Straightedge Superstar reached from the rungs for the all-important briefcase, The Legend Killer turned thriller with an RKO from the ladder's peak.
SATURDAY NIGHT’S MAIN EVENT – August 18, 2007
At Saturday Night's Main Event in 2007, John Cena couldn't help but look out below as The Champ got an uncomfortably close view of a propped up folding chair.
Randy Orton clearly left his conscience at home, executing a dastardly RKO on the unsuspecting Superstar and connecting Cena's grill with cold steel.
RAW – May 27, 2007
Devout members of the WWE Universe can still visualize lithe ECW legend Rob Van Dam constrict and contort with Orton’s cringe-inducive RKO on May 28, 2007.
The viper-like competitor snatched RVD's neck and forced him face-first to the mat while the rest of Van Dam's body stood near fully vertical (legs in the air). This concluded their confrontation and stood forth as one of RVD's last WWE matches.
RAW – Oct. 1, 2007
The venomous Viper targeted John Cena on the first night of October 2007. Instantly following Cena's match on Raw, Randy Orton callously delivered a near crippling RKO atop the announce table - an assault that decommissioned his rival for months.
NO MERCY – Oct. 7, 2007
The same way Randy Orton earned a WWE Title Match at No Mercy 2007 was the very method that he used to win the championship that night.
On his last legs, WWE’s Apex Predator extinguished The Game with an RKO on the commentary booth - the attack he used to eliminate Cena from the picture days before. A referee's 10-count later, Orton was the Last Man Standing and awarded the title for the second time that night.
ROYAL RUMBLE – Jan. 27, 2008
No popcorn was sold in Madison Square Garden during one nail-biter of a confrontation between Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy for the WWE Title at Royal Rumble 2008.
This war was too close to call until Hardy locked in for a Twist of Fate. Orton twisted back, however, right into a picture perfect RKO that put his foe's lights out.
RAW – Feb. 26, 2008
The Road to The Grandest Stage of Them All commenced with extreme turbulence and agony for then-WWE Champion Randy Orton's WrestleMania XXIV challengers, Triple H and John Cena. At the contract signing between all three men, Orton grounded both Superstars with the RKO.
The Viper would go on to successfully retain the gold at The Biggest Spectacle of Them All in a Triple Threat Match.
RAW – March 17, 2008
In a strange turn of events for two enemies, Randy Orton and John Cena were required to work together against the entire Raw roster. Challenged by roughly a dozen opposing Superstars, WWE’s Apex Predator it just meant more opportunities to execute his patented attack. Lance Cade, Paul Burchill and Val Venis all succumbed to the RKO, but it was a collaborative effort by Cena and Orton that laid Cody Rhodes to rest.
RAW – Dec. 9, 2008
In a critical tag bout on Raw in late 2008, it only took the quickest of instances for The Viper to slip out of a Batista Bomb and execute a hellish RKO.
This, followed with Orton's equally lethal punt, was the last blow The Animal would endure before time away from the ring to recover.
RAW – July 12, 2010
The key to many of The Viper's greatest successes lies in his ability to strike - and strike hard - within an instant's notice. An in-flight Evan Bourne learned this lesson above all else on July 12, 2010, mere days before the first-ever Money in the Bank pay-per-view event.
Aiming to weaken Orton with a Shooting Star Press, Evan's attack took a moment too long, allowing WWE's Apex Predator to rise to his feet in time to surprise a mid-flip "Air" Bourne with an unforgettable RKO.
WRESTLEMANIA XXVII – April 3, 2011
The Show of Shows boasted an intense showdown between Randy Orton and CM Punk in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome on April 3, 2011. Arguably a contest of dueling serpents – The Viper and the fork tongued New Nexus leader – the match was more a test of punishment allocation and endurance between two experts of both.
Their WrestleMania joust concluded suddenly when the quicker striking competitor, Orton, captured Punk at the end of his top rope trajectory, leveraging the momentum of his airborne assailant to execute a game-ending RKO.
SMACKDOWN – May 6, 2011
Christian had just finally reached the top. The newly crowned World Heavyweight Champion just should have remained at his perch. In the closing moments of a classic encounter between SmackDown's finest, Captain Charisma sprung from the middle rope, targeting a prone Viper. Instinctively, the ophidian-like competitor repelled the offensive with an RKO that stunned the defending champion and gave Randy Orton his eighth World Title.