The Tale of Randy Orton's "RKO" and How It Became Wrestling's Greatest Finisher

Ryan MichaelSenior Writer IIIMarch 14, 2009

Whether or not you are a die-hard fan of professional wrestling, you've might have heard the term "finishing move" mentioned at one point or another. It is that one move that a professional wrestler uses to end a match. Think of it as a closer of sorts.

Finishing moves come in all shapes, sizes, speeds, and positions. None of them has become more lethal or effective than Randy Orton's vicious "RKO."

The importance of effective and and exciting finishing moves in the world of professional wrestling would be impossible to overstate. For it is through the effective use of such a maneuver that a wrestler is best remembered and the fans become most excited.

Sure there are signature moves (the "spinebuster" for Batista or the "five-knuckle shuffle" for John Cena) but none of them leave the indelible impact that a finishing move leaves behind.

As a matter of fact, their have been relatively poor wrestlers who are better remembered for their exciting execution of a famous finishing move (think of Hulk Hogan's "atomic leg drop") almost to the extent of which casual fans can disregard poor coordination and performing abilities in other areas in light of the excitement produced by that finishing move.

Essentially, the finishing move in professional wrestling is the climax of the performance that wrestling fans hold so near and dear to their hearts.

When you think of your wrestling heroes, you might envision Steve Austin giving the "stone cold stunner" to Mr. McMahon or Shawn Michaels delivering "sweet chin music" to anyone who stands in his way.

Of course if I could pick one finishing maneuver that stands out above all the rest, without question my answer would be found in Randy Orton's dreaded "RKO".

The letters very conveniently also coincide with the performer's initials "(R)andy (K)either (O)rton" and the maneuver delivers exactly what it's name indicates, a knockout.

I plead to my fellow wrestling junkies to bear with me for the benefit of more casual readers as I know some of this might very well be common knowledge to a great deal of you.

Now where were we?

Many might recognize Orton's RKO as being quite similar to Diamond Dallas Page's "Diamond Cutter". According to DDP, he encouraged to Orton to use the maneuver many years ago. How accurate that account is, I'm not certain.

I wouldn't put it past DDP to simply be trying to take credit for inspiring Orton to begin using a move that has since worked it's way into wrestling legend.

Although there might have been a time when people thought of the RKO as a knock-off of the Diamond Cutter, when people now see the Diamond Cutter, they often recognize it to be a "poor-man's RKO".

Who can blame them?

Orton had worked on perfecting the RKO over time. When he began using the move back in 2003, you could tell it was not as lethal as it has since become. In a way, it almost represented Orton at that stage in his career, a learner.

When Orton evolved into the cocky Randy Orton of 2004-2006, we saw him deliver the move a bit differently then he does now. It was more a matter of leaping into the air, grabbing someone's neck with his right hand and dropping them to the ground with his left hand free in the air.

Even the RKO at that time seemed to express a bit of Orton's cocky vibe.

Compare that to what the RKO has become today. Now Orton will jump in the air to grab someone's neck and use both arms to crash their neck and skull into the mat. He performs the maneuver with viper-like intensity.

In my view, there is no better finishing move.

When I think of what goes into making a great finishing maneuver, Orton's RKO almost pens out the blueprint.

The move is exciting.

Fans are often sitting on the edge of their seat simply in anticipation of when it might strike. It's effective in the sense that it is executes clear-cut damage to the opponents neck and skull.

Most importantly however might be the fact that it can be hit out of no-where. Randy Orton has the ability to strike at any time, from any position and when he does, people do not usually get up.

The only other move I would put on-par with Orton's RKO would be Shawn Michaels' Sweet Chin Music. It can also be hit out of no-where and be quite effective.

The only aspect it lacks is the lethal destruction that results from Orton's RKO.

The victims of Orton's finishing move are endless.

Shawn Michaels, Rob Van Dam, Mick Foley, Edge, Chris Benoit, Batista, Triple H, The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Bobby Lashley, Hulk Hogan, John Cena...the list goes on and on.

So, the combination of all the various aspects mentioned combine to make the RKO the best finishing maneuver in professional wrestling today. I certainly stand firmly by my declaration, but I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on the subject.