Looking back on Rated-RKO, the Edge-Randy Orton tag team that took WWE by storm
Before a potential reunion went south on Raw this past Monday night, Randy Orton gave a returning Edge an offer the WWE Hall of Famer seemed to like: “What if Rated-RKO got back together one more time?”
Your own reaction to Orton’s proposal probably varies. If you’re the kind of fan who has been watching for 30 years, you were probably as excited as the audience in San Antonio. But if you’re newer to the game and only know Edge from this past weekend, you’d be forgiven for scratching your head. Sure, this guy is cool, and it seems like everyone likes him, but what does he have to do with Randy Orton? In fairness to the newbies, Rated-RKO, the catchy name assigned to Edge and Orton’s tag team, only lasted for about eight months between 2006 and 2007. But in fairness to the old heads, it was quite the eight months.
Formed out of a shared enmity for D-Generation X, Rated-RKO were the rare thrown-together tag team who found success in all facets of the game. They could do comedy, they could do brutality, and they could win, seizing the World Tag Team Championships from Ric Flair & Roddy Piper in November of 2006. And while they were short-lived as a duo, the shadow of the team still lingers all these years later. Not only did Orton speak glowingly of Edge’s influence on him on Raw, but the one-man Con-Chair-To he used against The Rated-R Superstar mirrors the attack Edge perpetuated on Piper to win the pair’s only Tag Team Championship.
Perhaps most crucially to their success, they came together at the right time. We associate Edge’s peak around 2006, but he was in something of a slump before Orton came along. And Orton — while already accomplished — was notably unfinished as a Superstar, a still-raw prospect stuck in a weird limbo between Legend Killer and Apex Predator. They clicked in every sense of the word, right down to their shared ambitions. Internal strife doomed the team as they both circled the WWE Championship; they lost the titles to another impromptu pairing of Shawn Michaels (who continued the DX rivalry solo after Triple H tore his quad) and John Cena and finally fell out over the WrestleMania 23 Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Edge would go on to win the Money in the Bank contract and parlay that into a move to SmackDown and a World Heavyweight Championship win over The Undertaker, effectively disbanding the team.
The usual one-off reunions followed. Rated-RKO reunited for “one night only” on Raw’s 15th anniversary in 2007. True to form, they got themselves disqualified, but as Orton matriculated into The Viper and Edge reached his final form on SmackDown, the legacy of Rated-RKO was something of a beloved stepping stone to bigger and better things for both men.
Not much seems to have changed. Whatever awaits Orton and Edge, it’s clear that after Raw, they’re both on their respective Roads to WrestleMania and an uncertain future, and that idea of a Rated-RKO reunion was much in line with the idea of Rated-RKO itself. Get two Superstars looking for their next move from point A to point B. As it was in 2006, it was a short ride in 2020, but one that hadn’t lost its capacity to shock.