Randy Orton and Edge
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 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.
In the 2013 Royal Rumble Match, The Viper insisted it was a contest he needed to win. While he didn’t win, Orton butted heads with Sheamus over who ruled the blue brand leading up to the event. In the following weeks, however, Orton and Sheamus appeared to settle on an unlikely treaty to combat vicious surprise attacks from The Shield, eventually adding Big Show to the uneasy alliance to face WWE’s “Hounds of Justice” in a Six-Man Tag Team Match at WrestleMania 29. During the encounter at MetLife Stadium, Orton took a tag from Sheamus that was initially intended for The World’s Largest Athlete. The heroic trio ultimately succumbed to the dominance of Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose when The Viper was pinned to the canvas, resulting in an irate Big Show. The frustrated giant knocked out his allies after the closing bell, proving that the three individuals were never a truly cohesive unit and further potential conflicts may lie ahead.
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 WWE’s Apex Predator.
It's no surprise, then, that Edge is a guitar collector and grew up listening to KISS, a band famous for their flamboyant outfits and outrageous stage antics. What is a surprise is how a shy high schooler from the little town of Orangeville, Ontario, evolved into The Rated-R Superstar.
Even though he was voted "Most Likely to Be WWE Champion" by his classmates, Edge's path to the grand stage was anything but predetermined. The only spotlights beaming down were at the local factories where he worked odd jobs to help his single-parent mother pay the bills. Still, Edge dreamed big while idolizing larger-than-life entertainers like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. At age 18, Edge got the lucky break he needed in the form of an essay contest offered by a gym in Toronto. The prize? Free wrestling training – a prime opportunity for The Ultimate Opportunist.
Edge had some fine company as he worked his way up the independent scene in the '90s: his childhood friend and partner for countless five-second poses, Christian. When Edge was signed to a WWE contract in 1997, it was only a matter of time before Christian would climb up the ladder too, following his best bud into uncharted territory.
"E&C" made sweet music as a tag team, using a lot more than just Con-Chair-Tos to claim seven championships together. A Triple Threat Ladder Match victory at WrestleMania 2000 over The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz laid the foundation for a series of landmark Tables, Ladders & Chairs (TLC) contests, and some of the greatest tag team action of all time. Of course, tag teaming wasn't Edge's only specialty, as he masterfully crafted a singles career and captured a whopping 31 total titles – many of them the WWE Universe didn't even see coming.
Beyond his ability to capitalize on opportunities, Edge became known as The Master Manipulator because he wasn't afraid to cross the line in order to rattle the competition. After he made history in 2006 as the first man to ever cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase, he rubbed his WWE Championship triumph in the face of all challengers with an R-rated celebration on Raw; more explicitly, a frolicking good time with Lita on a bed placed right in the middle of the squared circle. Mind games were taken to a whole new level by the self-proclaimed "most -watched champion."
Ultimately, a debilitating injury speared Edge from active competition, but you can be sure he'll find other ways to make his presence felt. If we've learned one major lesson from Edge's career, it's to always expect the unexpected. Just make sure you have the benefit of flash photography.