The RKO: One of Pro Wrestling’s Most Devastating Moves

The RKO: One of Pro Wrestling’s Most Devastating Moves

There are numerous popular finishing moves in the history of professional wrestling. By far, one of the most popular is the RKO executed for multi-time world champion Randy Orton.

Here is everything you need to know about the famous RKO maneuver. Read below to learn the move’s history and some of the most exciting moments when the wrestling maneuver was used.

What is the RKO?

The RKO is the name of a famous finishing wrestling move used by legendary wrestler Randy Orton. “RKO” is an acronym, which are the initials for Randy’s real name, “Randall Keith Orton.”

It is one of the most popular moves in wrestling history, that millions of fans around the world imitate.

RKO move

The History of the RKO 

Before the wrestling move was popularly called the RKO, it was known as a cutter. The cutter or ¾ facelock bulldog, which was innovated by a pro wrestler named Johnny Ace(John Laurenitis).

When Johnny Ace first used the wrestling maneuver, he called it “The Ace Crusher” which he named after himself. Later on, the Ace Crusher or cutter was used by former pro wrestling star Diamond Dallas Page.

DDP as he was known was one of the most popular wrestlers during the 1990s. Page called his version of the move, “The Diamond Cutter.” 

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It was one of the most popular moves during the 1990s right next to the stunner, rock bottom, and tombstone piledriver. Any time Diamond Dallas Page hit the Diamond Cutter, the place went wild.

Years later, Randy Orton, a third generation wrestler broke into the business of pro wrestling. When he was creating his character and move set, he needed a finishing move. 

Orton created a version of the cutter, which he would call the RKO. However, before adopting the move, he asked DDP for his blessing to use the move as his finisher.

Page gave his blessing, which led Orton to develop the RKO. Since the 2000s, the RKO has been one of the most popular moves in pro wrestling.

Just like the Stone-Cold Stunner or Rock Bottom, the RKO has transcended in popularity outside of sports entertainment. It has become an iconic move that is known throughout the world.

The Best RKOs in Pro Wrestling History

Randy Orton has hit numerous memorable RKOs during his illustrious professional wrestling career. Here are twenty of the most memorable moments which Orton hit his RKO finisher.

The RKO Wrestling move

#20 Orton vs. Mustafa Ali

At a RAW taping from a few years back, Randy faced Mustafa Ali in a match. During the match, Ali attempted a front  roll from the apron and was immediately hit with Orton’s finisher. 

#19 2019 Royal Rumble

At the 2019 Royal Rumble, female wrestler Nia Jax was a surprise entrant into the men’s Royal Rumble. After eliminating multiple superstars, she was hit with a surprise RKO out of nowhere.

#18 Smackdown Battle Royal vs. The Miz

At a battle royal that took place at a Smackdown taping, Randy Orton and The Miz were the last two competitors in the match. The two traded blows on the apron and The Miz seemed to be getting the advantage.

Controversy arose as Orton hit the move, but both competitors touched the floor at the same time.

#17 Hulk Hogan RKO

During the 2000s, Randy Orton was known as “The Legend Killer,” who hit numerous wrestling legends with his surprise finisher. As wrestling legend Hulk Hogan was getting into his car, Orton hit him with an RKO outta nowhere. 

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#16 Surprising Brock Lesnar

In an episode of Raw leading up to the 2016 Summerslam event, Paul Heyman was cutting a promo. This promo was to hype up a match between his then client Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton.

During the promo, Heyman talks about Orton’s devastating finisher and how he wasn’t going to hit Lesnar with it. Just as Heyman finishes this sentence, Randy sneaks up and hits Brock with an RKO and the crowd goes crazy.

#15 Pop Up RKO on Dolph Ziggler

During a match with Dolph Ziggler, Orton got Ziggler up in position for a powerbomb. He quickly altered the move into his patented finisher to win the match.

#14 Flying RKO on Sami Zayn

In another edition of the Royal Rumble, Sami Zayn attempted to hit Randy Orton with a flying cross-body splash. Zayn was quickly met with an explosive RKO.

#13 Orton RKOs Neville Off the Ladder

In a TLC match(Tables, Ladders & Chairs) wrestler Neville(Pac) attempted to jump over Orton. He jumped over Randy and onto a ladder in order to climb up and grab a MITB briefcase.

When Neville attempted this, Orton threw Neville off the later and hit his cutter finisher on the way down.

#12 Carlito Mid-Air

At an Unforgiven PPV from the 2000s, wrestler Carlito attempted a flying maneuver off the top ropes. He was quickly met with Orton’s finisher, who won after a clean 3-count.

#11 John Cena Assisted RKO

In an eight man tag match from the late 2000s, John Cena caught Cody Rhodes on a cross-body attempt. Cena saw Orton behind him, who quickly threw Rhodes to Orton, who hit him with a midair RKO.

#10 Orton vs. Barrett Table Spot

In a PPV match against former wrestler Wade Barrett, the English wrestler attempted to put Orton through a table. As Barrett flew off the top rope, Orton got up and hit his finisher outta nowhere.

#9 Planting Ricochet

During a match between Drew Mcintyre and Ricochet, the high-flying Ricochet attempted a 450 splash off the top rope. Mcintyre moved and Orton came into to Ricochet with a surprise RKO.

#8 Rey Mysterio Slides Into an RKO

In a match vs legend Rey Mysterio, the lucha expert attempted a sliding suicide dive. Orton was ready for it and hit Mysterio with his patented finisher.

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#7 RKO on Christian Off the Cage

In a cage match vs. multi-time champion Christian, Orton hit the legend with a crazy RKO .

#6 Countering The Undertaker

During his Legend Killer days, Orton met the iconic Undertaker at a PPV match. Orton shocked the crowd by countering Taker’s chokeslam with his finisher.

#5 John Centa Onto a Chair

In a special edition of WWE’s semi-annual Saturday Night’s Main Event, Orton met John Cena in a no-DQ match. A chair came into play at one point and Orton was able to hit a devastating RKO on Cena.

#4 Chad Gable Moonsault Counter

Ace wrestler Chad Gable strangely attempted a moonsault on Orton in one of their matches. The wiley veteran was ready and hit Gable with a huge cutter out of nowhere.

#3 RKO Through the Table

In Orton’s title match vs. Jinder Mahal at MITB, he went on a spree of violence. He memorably put one of Mahal’s assistants through the announce table during the match.

#2 Shooting Star Press RKO Counter

In many wrestling fan’s eyes as the most memorable RKO is from a match against Matt Sydal(Matt Bourne). During the match, Sydal has Orton on the match and attempts his shooting star press finisher from the top rope.

While Sydal was midair, Orton got up and hit one of the greatest RKOs of all time. That spot is still talked about 2 decades later.

#1 Curb Stomp Counter to RKO

Arguably the greatest RKO of all time took place at a Wrestlemania match vs. Seth Rollins. During the match, Rollins attempted his finisher called the curb stomp.

When he attempted the move, Orton was able to counter it and the crowd went wild. Easily one of the greatest Wrestlemania moments of all time.

Where Does The RKO Rank as Wrestling’s Best Finishers?

Randy Orton’s RKO is easily one of the greatest finishing maneuvers in the history of pro wrestling. He has memorably hit this move countless times, which has led to many viral videos of fans doing the move.

Everybody knows that the RKO can come at any time outta nowhere.