The Champ in RKO's Crosshairs

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July 24, 2007

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A vacant, cold -- yet familiar -- stare enveloped Randy Orton's face as he inspected his carnage. The sides of his jaw quivered and his nostrils flared slightly. Some of our fans at the Arco Arena craned their necks as they tried to get a better look at Orton's handiwork.

Meanwhile, WWE Champion John Cena lay motionless inside the ring -- his eyes were shut and his chest heaved up and down. The Champ was just the latest Superstar to feel the wrath of Orton's lethal RKO, but this time, the third-generation star had a special message: I'm coming for your WWE Championship, Cena. You're mine at SummerSlam.

Cena never saw the RKO coming. He and Women's Champion Candice Michelle had just defeated World Tag Team Champions Cade & Murdoch and Intercontinental Champion Umaga in the first-ever Champions Only No-Disqualification Match on Raw. He was still basking in the afterglow of the successful defense of the WWE Championship against Bobby Lashley in a classic encounter at The Great American Bash. But still, Cena -- and the capacity crowd and millions of fans worldwide -- wondered who acting Raw GM Jonathan Coachman would name the No. 1 contender and Cena's opponent for SummerSlam. A sudden RKO and the announcement from Coach at the end of Raw answered all questions. (WATCH)

Orton had been a busy man Monday night. He left fans and Superstars in tears earlier that night when he nearly caved in the beloved "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes' skull with a boot to the head. In recent months, Orton has taken sadistic pleasure in trying to put an end to careers. (WATCH)

But besides adding careers -- especially those of legends -- to his trophy case, Orton has long coveted one prize, the WWE Championship. He not only sees the championship as the pinnacle of sports-entertainment; he believes it is his destiny. Orton has begged and pleaded for a one-on-one match with Cena for the WWE Championship for months, and has only received opportunities where multiple competitors were involved,

Three years ago, Orton made history when he won the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam and became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in history. But his championship reign only lasted one month, and Orton's career has failed to reach similar heights ever since. Orton's wrestling pedigree is second-to-none. Maybe no one is as naturally-gifted. Perhaps no one in WWE has taken their opportunity for granted more than Orton, either. And deep down, Orton knows it. Maybe that explains his fetish for legends and ending careers.

But now Orton has an opportunity to silence his critics and perhaps prove something to himself. He has a chance to exorcise his own demons and fulfill his destiny. And that may make him more dangerous than ever. Beware John Cena -- you're in the RKO's crosshairs.

Check out Orton's Skull t-shirt...

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