Randy Orton and the 15 Best RKOs of His WWE Career
Randy Orton's RKO is a sudden weapon, one that has earned the slithering Superstar victories, championships and WWE glory.
At its best, it is both gorgeous and destructive. His version of the cutter is quicker and smoother than those of the men who used it before him, including John Laurinaitis and Diamond Dallas Page.
His most stunning and memorable RKO deliveries have included catching foes in mid-air, smashing them through furniture and flipping them over. Evan Bourne, John Cena and Shawn Michaels are among his long list of victims.
It's a move that will certainly be a part of Orton's future matches and is his best bet to get a championship back around his waist.
Ranked here based on how violent and how spectacular they looked, here are Orton's best versions of the RKO so far.
Video package of RKO clips aplenty
Orton delivered an impressive trio of RKOs at the Royal Rumble in 2009.
It was also the move that won him his first world title. Orton hit Chris Benoit with a crisp RKO to pin him and take his championship belt.
In 2010, Orton tossed Sheamus his WWE title before taking advantage of that momentary distraction and making the Irishman feel the power of the RKO.
Randy Orton didn’t deliver his RKO to Hulk Hogan with as much impact and grace as he usually does, but replacing the ring as the landing spot with a car amps up the move's violence in a major way.
15. RKO to Stephanie McMahon
At the height of Randy Orton's most insane period and in the heart of Orton and Triple H's intense rivalry, Orton and Legacy left the McMahon family lying unmoving in the ring.
Shane McMahon was already being fitted for a neck brace when Orton snapped and nailed Stephanie with the RKO.
It wasn't as violent as his most vicious versions, but it looked plenty nasty. Seeing it being delivered on a woman made it even more shocking.
Orton played up the act by making some tortured expressions as he looked down at his handiwork.
14. RKO to John Cena 1
Out of all the spots, moves and moments from their Iron Man match at Bragging Rights 2009, the RKO melding with the Attitude Adjustment is the coolest and most unexpected.
Tied at one fall apiece, Cena looked like he was about to take the lead by hitting the AA. Orton managed to slide his arm around Cena's neck just in time and turned the move into a simultaneous finisher.
The two men would pull of a similar move with a table involved in a tables match on WWE Raw.
A more violent impact would have had this ranked higher, but the smoothness and creativity of this RKO is impressive nonetheless.
13. RKO to Jeff Hardy
Other RKOs on this list are strengthened by additional height, momentum or obstacles. This is an example of one of Randy Orton's best pure RKOs.
Jeff Hardy looked like he might win the WWE title from Orton at the 2008 Royal Rumble. It was not to be.
Turning Hardy's Twist of Fate into the RKO so smoothly, seamlessly and suddenly made it a beautiful sight. The fluid transition ended in Orton smashing Hardy to the mat with great intensity.
Jim Ross' description of the RKO as a snakelike move is apt here as it downed the challenger swiftly and definitively, as if he'd been bitten by a snake.
12. RKO to Wayne Brady
Randy Orton's RKO to Meatloaf looked awful. The RKO on Wayne Brady was the exact opposite, trading in awkwardness for realism.
The TV personality went in to shake Orton's hand and instead got planted. Brady looked legitimately hurt here, lying unmoving on the mat.
The nice-guy image of the guest host added to the moment as Orton looked especially villainous crushing such an innocent guy. You can't expect to get so close to a snake and not get bit, though.
11. RKO to Rey Mysterio 1
With deviousness gleaming in his smile, Randy Orton grabbed Rey Mysterio on the top rope. He then launched himself forward, smashing Mysterio on the mat.
This was Orton at his most vicious, when he told Mysterio that his friend Eddie Guerrero was in hell. Orton looked gleeful before landing the move, as if he knew how beautiful and violent it was going to be.
Mysterio lands more on his torso than the victims above him on the list, so even with as intense as the blow is, it's not as concussive as Orton's very best.
10. RKO to Rob Van Dam
Something clearly didn't go as planned with this RKO on Rob Van Dam, resulting in a violent version of the move that evokes images of a car crash.
It is not as artistic and elegant as the versions ranked above it, but Randy Orton's destruction of Van Dam is a jaw-dropping sight. Instead of Van Dam landing flat with his face on the canvas, he is instead impaled into the ring, a human nail going into wood.
Orton then looked down with a touch of glee in his eyes. It's hard to imagine Van Dam not blacking out from that impact.
9. RKO to Undertaker
Landing the RKO on the Undertaker didn't help Randy Orton end his undefeated WrestleMania streak, but it created a gorgeous counter WWE fans won't soon forget.
In their WrestleMania 21 match, Undertaker went for his chokeslam and Orton not only managed to slip out of the move but nailed Undertaker with one of his most beautiful versions of his RKO.
The move is often billed as coming out of nowhere, and it truly did here. It was an unexpected counter that is stunning each time one watches it.
8. RKO to Rey Mysterio 2
Much of the story of the 2009 Royal Rumble revolved around Randy Orton and Legacy, including one of the match's best and most memorable moments.
Take the impact that Orton's RKO had in the other Rey Mysterio RKO, double it and add a dramatic reaction to equal this RKO on WWE's most famous underdog.
Mysterio went on the attack, flying toward Orton, but the Viper made him pay. He nailed him with the RKO and Mysterio writhed around on the mat as if he had broken something. Both Mysterio's reaction and the enthusiastic crowd response helped elevate the violent aura of this move.
7. RKO to Dolph Ziggler
What happens when you take one of WWE's most awesome finishing moves and deliver it to the company's most dramatic seller? The result is a move that looks like it should have put Dolph Ziggler in the hospital.
Ziggler had managed to fend off one RKO just moments earlier, but on Randy Orton's second try, the Viper caught him as he bounced off the canvas and then drove him downward with devastating force.
The RKOs above this one on the list edge this out with the help of ladders, chairs or added height. In terms of the most standard versions of the move, though, this one is among the most violent. The move looked like a criminal act that night.
6. RKO to Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kingston would blow off rumors of backstage heat and friction between him and Randy Orton during an interview on Smacktalk Radio Live (via WrestlingInc.com) by saying, "That's Randy being Randy." It was clear, though, that something went wrong in his match against Orton and John Cena on WWE Raw in 2010.
It appeared to anger Orton to a frightening level, and that emotion led to one of his nastiest RKOs ever. He yanked Kingston's neck down and the high-flyer's head bounced off Orton's shoulders.
Kingston lost the match, but he was lucky to not have been injured as well.
5. RKO to Carlito
Carlito springboarded from the ropes, diving into Randy Orton. Orton had other plans. He wrapped his arm around Carlito's neck and snatched him out of the air for a vicious RKO.
This was one of the most powerful mid-air RKOs. Carlito crashed to the mat with a thunderous impact, his head bouncing off the mat.
Carlito has to get a lot of the credit for making the move look both so smooth. Often, foes knowing a mid-air RKO is coming look too much like they are expecting the move, sticking their chin out in anticipation.
Instead, the move looks real here, a snake's instantaneous strike.
4. RKO to Chris Jericho
Cody Rhodes felt the destructive power of suffering an RKO while atop John Cena's shoulders, but if he saw the version Chris Jericho endured, he'd likely be thankful.
Not only did Randy Orton snatch Jericho from off Cena's shoulders and nail the RKO, he sent Jericho to the mat head first. It's likely that Jericho holding his head in pain after the move required no acting skills. Jericho's head hit the mat awkwardly and his body bent backwards during it as well.
The RKO was at its most violent here, a weapon capable of making a chiropractor very rich.
3. RKO to John Cena 2
John Cena's Saturday night ended with bent steel and unconsciousness. Cena's celebration quickly turned ugly after his victory over Carlito on Saturday Night Main Event.
Randy Orton yanked him out of the ring and smashed him into the ring steps. With a devious look on his face, Orton delivered the RKO, driving Cena's body into a steel chair. This is one of the most cringe-worthy RKOs in his career, a moment aided by the sight of the mangled chair and the thud that accompanied the move.
2. RKO to Everyone
It didn't earn him the win at the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 23, but his flurry of offense became one of the most memorable moments of the bout.
Randy Orton hit Matt Hardy with the RKO. Finlay felt the effects of the move next. Mr. Kennedy rushed in, only to find himself lying on the mat seconds later.
The most breathtaking RKO on that night, though, happened just moments after that trio of finishers. While Orton tried to climb the ladder to grab the Money in the Bank contract, CM Punk fought him for position.
Orton then took Punk on a one-way flight to the canvas with a punishing RKO. The move drove Punk's head to the canvas after both men soared from the ladders.
1. RKO to Evan Bourne
Evan Bourne looked to be on his way to nailing Randy Orton on WWE Raw with his finisher. He had the Viper down in the center of the ring, in perfect position for his Shooting Star Press, Air Bourne.
Orton has snatched opponent's necks in mid-air before but never with as quick a strike and with as powerful an impact as he did to Bourne.
The move was so fast that the cameras just barely captured it. With the crowd roaring around him, Bourne looked to be in a deep, concussed slumber.