10 Moments That Solidified Randy Orton As A WWE Star

For over two decades, Randal Keith Orton has absolutely dominated the world of professional wrestling. Many wrestlers and fans alike argue that the third generation superstar is indeed one of the absolute best to have ever laced up a pair of boots. The man — who has been known by many monikers, including The Legend Killer, The Viper, and The Apex Predator — is a WWE Grand Slam Champion and has faced off against some of the biggest names in the business. Orton has also been part of some of the most recognizable factions and tag teams in the history of the WWE including Evolution, Rated-RKO, Legacy, and most recently RK-Bro.

The surefire future hall of famer is also known for his immense popularity working as both a face and heel. His finishing move, the RKO, is widely regarded among fans as one of the best finishers of all time. With no shortage of accolades to choose from, here are ten moments that solidified Randy Orton as a WWE star thus far.

Randy News Network

After suffering a shoulder injury shortly after his "Raw" debut, Orton reemerged on the WWE's flagship program with short vignettes known as RNN, which stood for "Randy News Network." The first of these vignettes was during the October 28th, 2022 edition of "Raw," where an RNN segment interrupted Shawn Michaels mid promo with an "RNN: Breaking News" graphic. Commentators Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler were baffled as a young Randy Orton appeared on the screen with long hair and his arm in a sling. Orton explained that he would provide these live updates from time to time to let the fans know how he was recovering from said injury. The young competitor even provided an email address where fans could send their well wishes, which was displayed on the screen as GetWellRandy@WWE.com at the end of every RNN segment.

The RNN vignettes, which directly parodied the CNN network, continued to interrupt segments of "Raw" in the coming weeks. Orton would become slightly more arrogant and overconfident each time he appeared on screen. The Randy News Network would also broadcast from various locations including the New York Stock Exchange and even the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Although a precursor to his debut with Evolution, RNN showed that the young viper knew how to blur the lines between heel and face roles, and he has been able to make a career of that particular practice ever since.

Evolution Debut

Arguably one of the most crucial points in Randy Orton's career would be his run with Triple H, Ric Flair, and Batista, otherwise known as Evolution. Evolution debuted on the February 3rd, 2003 edition of "Raw" by attacking Tommy Dreamer in the ring and making an example out of him. After the attack on Dreamer, Hunter explained the reasoning behind the group's actions and why he selected said members to be a part of Evolution. Hunter referred to Orton as having "raw genetic talent" and being the coal that will be squeezed into the next diamond.

Although this was just the start of Evolution, this moment marked the beginning of a run that would change Orton's career trajectory forever. The group went on to dominate nearly any competition that stood in their way and hold all of the men's championships on "Raw."

Orton wins The Intercontinental Championship

Orton got his first taste of championship gold in the WWE when he defeated Rob Van Dam in an impromptu Intercontinental Championship match at the "Armageddon" PPV in 2003. Orton interrupted the then Co-General Manager Mick Foley during an in ring celebration at the event. The future Legend Killer approached the ring with The Nature Boy, Ric Flair, in tow and demanded a match for the Intercontinental Championship. Foley slowly removed his suit jacket and button down shirt to reveal a referee shirt (of sorts) and called RVD down to the ring.

Van Dam put the title on the line in a stellar bout full of unorthodox offense from the champion and equally as much outside interference from Flair who remained in Orton's corner. Ultimately the constant distractions and interference from Flair allowed Orton to hit a devastating RKO on RVD for the one, two, three. Flair put the belt around the waist of an emotional Randy Orton in one of many crucial career defining moments. Orton would go on to have a significant run with the Intercontinental Championship for over 200 days.

Randy Orton vs. Cactus Jack at Backlash

Orton crossed paths with Mick Foley again in the very near future, only to reveal a whole other level of viciousness. After several confrontations on "Raw," Foley ultimately challenged Orton to a No Holds Barred Match which took place at the Backlash PPV event in 2004. This was an opportunity for Orton to show the world exactly how extreme he could get inside of the squared circle, and he did just that.

Foley walked down the ramp at the PPV event in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada wearing his Cactus Jack attire with his barbed wire bat "Barbie" in hand. Orton came prepared with a garbage can full of weapons. Both men absolutely tore the house down in an extremely violent match, very uncharacteristic of anything you would see in WWE today. Orton not only executed a slew of vicious offense with weapons but also took many devastating bumps including several slams on a bed of thumbtacks.  Conversely, Mick Foley would be thrown into a bed of barbed wire. Both competitors were completely bloodied, battered, and beaten. Even with Evolution barred from ringside, Orton was able to win the match with an RKO to Foley on top of the barbed wire bat. The match was an absolutely pivotal moment in Orton's career, and he still keeps some of those thumbtacks in his possession to this very day.

Orton Becomes the Youngest World Heavyweight Champion

Arguably the biggest moment in Randy Orton's storied career was when he defeated Chris Benoit at SummerSlam in 2004 to become the youngest World Heavyweight Champion to date. At the age of only 24, the WWE put the big gold on the young up and comer, which spoke volumes in regards to the amount of faith the company had in him.

Orton had earned the right to face the then World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit for the title in the main event of SummerSlam by winning a 20 man battle royal on "Raw" in July of 2004. SummerSlam was held in Toronto where both men competed in a very technical, hard hitting bout that ultimately came down to a perfectly timed RKO by Orton for the upset victory. After the match, an emotional Orton held the title over his head with a look of extreme shock and awe on his face. The Rabid Wolverine made his way back to the ring to shake the hand of the new world champion. Orton shook his hand and gave a nod to his opponent before ascending to the top turnbuckle to celebrate. This monumental victory was just a small glimpse into what the future held for young Randy. 

Evolution Splinters

In arguably one of the biggest betrayals in the history of WWE, Evolution turned their backs on Randy Orton during his championship celebration on the August 16th, 2004 edition of "Raw."  Nearly just twenty-four hours after winning the World Heavyweight Championship, Orton was completely blindsided by his then teammates Triple H, Batista, and Ric Flair.

The faction celebrated Orton's monumental victory in the middle of the ring, shaking hands and giving each other hugs. Batista even raised the new world champion high on his shoulders as the young Orton held up his newly won title proudly.  While hoisted upon Batista's shoulders, Triple H's thumbs up motion slowly turned into a thumbs down as a scowl came across the Cerebral Assassin's face. Batista immediately dropped Orton with an electric chair maneuver as an all out three on one beat down ensued. This proved to be a pivotal moment for Orton — not only because it would set up many feuds to come, but it also allowed Orton to separate himself from the powerful faction that was Evolution and embark on a journey all his own.  

Orton vs. Undertaker at Wrestlemania 21

After his split from Evolution, Orton eventually went on to become known as "The Legend Killer" after defeating or just outright dropping WWE legends with his patented RKO. The up and comer wanted more as he challenged The Undertaker to a match at WrestleMania 21. The match billed as "The Legend Killer vs. The Legend" proved to be one of the biggest matches of Orton's career.

Many could argue that Orton's win over The Undertaker at SummerSlam is the bigger moment, but The Legend Killer's bout with The Dead Man on the grandest stage of them all was most certainly the career defining moment. Orton proved that he could not only hang with one of the best in the history of the business, but had a legitimate shot at ending the Undertaker's undefeated 12-0 streak at WrestleMania. The match saw several near falls and even saw Orton executing an RKO out of a chokeslam reversal. Orton even attempted a tombstone piledriver, which would ultimately get reversed, allowing The Phenom to win. The Dead Man's streak at WrestleMania now continued on with a 13-0 record. Despite the outcome, these two men told a hell of a story going into this pivotal match, as Orton once again leveled up in front of our eyes.  

Rated-RKO Defeats DX

One of Orton's most notable team ups was that of Rated-RKO with "The Rated R Superstar" Edge. Edge had propositioned Orton to join him against DX on the October 9th, 2006 edition of "Raw," citing Orton's fallout with Hunter and Evolution in 2004. Edge had been feuding with Shawn Michaels at the time so the tag team made perfect sense and came together seamlessly.

Rated-RKO scored a massive victory over Triple H and Michaels at the 2006 Cyber Sunday event, where fans could vote on stipulations, match opponents, and more. After weeks of build, Rated-RKO faced DX in a straight up tag team match with special guest referee Eric Bischoff. Bischoff ultimately caused DX's loss, as he allowed Edge and Orton to use foreign objects and whatever means necessary to get the victory over the legendary team. However, the win was a passing of the torch of sorts, as Rated-RKO stood tall over two all time greats. 

Orton Wins the 2009 Royal Rumble

Randy Orton added a Royal Rumble win to his rapidly growing resume at the 2009 Royal Rumble. Orton, who had already accomplished so much in his career, entered the rumble at number eight only to outlast nearly all of the other competitors in the ring. The Viper was the leader of the faction Legacy at the time that consisted of second generation superstars Ted DiBiase Jr. and Cody Rhodes, who both played a crucial part in his victory that night.

Orton, who is credited as having the second most amount of time spent in Royal Rumble matches combined, lasted nearly 50 minutes at the 2009 event and caused some major eliminations, including that of The Big Show. The final four consisted of Orton, Rhodes, DiBiase Jr., and Triple H. With the numbers game in full effect, Orton was able to eliminate Triple H after The Game had eliminated the other two members of Legacy. Orton stood tall among the Detroit, Michigan fans with his first (of two) Royal Rumble wins and a legacy all his own. Although he lost to Triple H — his chosen opponent — at WrestleMania 25, the Rumble win still propelled Orton to new heights. 

The Formation of RK-Bro

The unofficial formation of RK-Bro on the April 19th, 2021 edition of "Raw" was something that completely reinvigorated The Apex Predator's career. On that particular episode of "Raw," Matt Riddle approached Orton during a backstage interview segment to pitch the idea of joining forces as "RK-Bro." Orton seemed reluctant to the idea, but the two eventually went on to create some very memorable moments in the long career of Orton. On May 19th, 2022 Orton even tweeted, "In a 20+ year career @WWE, I've done a LOT. The time spent w @SuperKingofBros has been up there among my favorite. Aside from the jokes , he's a serious competitor and athlete & a future world champion."

Throughout the run of the unlikely team, fans could constantly see Orton uncharacteristically smile or even have to refrain from breaking character in his segments with Riddle. Orton took part in segments involving parties, scooters, and even a camel. The constant looming threat of Orton possibly RKO-ing his partner and leaving the team added a lot to the dynamic. In fact, Orton would RKO Riddle from time to time, but ultimately never tried to break away from the team. The two went on to have some classic tag team bouts with the likes of The Hurt Business, The Usos, AJ Styles and Omos, The New Day, and many more.  Riddle and Orton would even become "Raw" Tag Team Champions after defeating both The Alpha Academy, and the team of Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens on the March 27th, 2022 edition of "Raw."