Randy Orton was born a WWE Superstar.
From the moment he was hatched, The Viper walked among the ring's most revered figures, even calling one of them “dad.” His father is WWE Hall of Famer “Cowboy” Bob Orton, his uncle Barry “Barry O” Orton and his grandfather, the late “The Big O,” Bob Orton Sr., all among the most fierce and rugged grapplers of their generations.
Most kids remember their first ball game or school play; Randy’s childhood memories include sitting in the kitchen of his family’s St. Louis home with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, and repairing a broken banister leaned on by Andre the Giant. He wasn’t even 5 years old when he watched his father knock out “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff in the main event at the inaugural WrestleMania.
The voices coiling through Randy Orton’s head today have not misguided him. And neither did Triple H and Ric Flair, who groomed Orton early on, welcoming him into their elite faction, Evolution. Under their tutelage, the 24-year-old Orton became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in history at SummerSlam 2004. The next night on Raw, however, an envious Triple H, who coveted Orton’s championship, attacked his stablemate and jettisoned him from the faction.
The treachery was shocking, but also critical to Randy’s own evolution. In the years that followed, he perfected his “Legend Killing” RKO — a signature move named after his own initials and the maneuver’s knockout vigor. How feared is it? Just ask the men who’ve succumbed to a lightning-quick RKO strike from literally every possible angle or position: Mick Foley, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
As dangerous as he is solo, Orton was arguably even more so lethal when paired with Edge as half of Rated-RKO in 2004 and with The Legacy’s Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase throughout the “Age of Orton” in 2009. More recently, The Viper’s chosen to partner with internal voices stirred by Intermittent Explosive Disorder, a disease marked by extreme outbursts of rage.
Randy Orton’s persistence in remaining in the championship picture incurred the wrath of Alberto Del Rio, who attacked The Apex Predator before his No. 1 Contender’s Match against Big Show. The ramifications of Del Rio’s assault kept Orton away from SmackDown for several weeks while he recuperated, but The Essence of Excellence’s gloating crashed to a halt when Orton returned, setting up a long-brewing grudge match between the two at Hell in a Cell which Orton won, withstanding a vicious attack by Del Rio and eventually felling him with the RKO. As a member of Team Foley at Survivor Series 2012, Orton eliminated bitter rival Del Rio, but fell to a superkick from Dolph Ziggler when he went for a kick to the head instead of the given pinfall.
Through championship reigns, a Royal Rumble Match victory and more, The Viper’s trail has been one blazed more so than slithered. Along that path, he’s overcome the likes of everyone from Sgt. Slaughter, Mick Foley and Triple H to Mark Henry, Sheamus and Christian — all fallen prey in the kingdom of Randy Orton, WWE’s Apex Predator.