Orton's attack shatters Hardy's momentum, maybe more

Orton's attack shatters Hardy's momentum, maybe more

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- After Jeff Hardy delivered a Twist of Fate to the WWE Champion Randy Orton to kick off New Year's Eve on Raw, it appeared nothing would stop Hardy's red-hot momentum leading up to Hardy's title opportunity at the Royal Rumble.

Consider that momentum train derailed.

WWE Champion Randy Orton resorted to his old bag of tricks on Raw, attacking Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy where it hurts -- in the family tree. As Orton has done previously this year to John Cena and Cody Rhodes, the Legend Killer reached into Hardy's personal life and attacked his brother Matt, who was visiting Jeff at Raw.

Matt, recovering from an emergency appendectomy a month ago, stopped by to see his brother just miles from their hometown of Cameron, N.C. It was just the opportunity the devious WWE Champion needed to strike at the psyche of the No. 1 Contender.

As Jeff was about to finish off Santino Marella in the ring with a Swanton Bomb, Orton appeared on the TitanTron to taunt his Royal Rumble opponent.

"Jeff, I bet you feel all good with your momentum and everything," Orton screamed from the locker room area. "Too bad you'll have to ring in the new year bringing your brother Matt to the emergency room, because I kicked him where his appendix used to be."

The Legend Killer then revealed the fallen Matt Hardy, lying on the floor. "And that's not the only place I'm going to kick him," Orton promised.

The WWE Champion reared back and punted the skull of the groggy SmackDown Superstar, making Jeff rush from the ring to the locker room to aid his injured brother.  Watch the video...

As officials tended to the unconscious Matt Hardy, Jeff seethed and fumed. How will the attack affect the high-flyer's hot streak as the Royal Rumble approaches?

If anything, Orton's attack on Jeff's brother might have made the Intercontinental Champion even hotter. But Jeff will have to wait until 2008 to let off steam and settle the score with the Legend Killer.

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