Rated RKO – One of WWE’s Most Unlikely Alliances

In 2020, Edge made his long-awaited return to the WWE. They were picking up right where he left off. He was the 2021 Royal Rumble winner. He was also challenged for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 33. Randy Orton, as always, has had a nonstop Hall of Fame career. Multiple-time WWE Champion, Royal Rumble winner, and current tag team champion with Matt Riddle in RK-Bro. When Edge returned, he was immediately confronted by The Apex Predator. Based on their bitter rivalry, it’s hard to believe that in 2006 These two were Raw Tag-team Champions in Rated RKO. Two future Hall Of Famers unified for their hatred of Legends Degeneration X Shawn Michaels and Triple H. 

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Birth of Rated RKO

Degeneration X had already gotten under the skin of the Rated R Superstar Edge. During a WWE championship steel cage match against John Cena, DX cost Edge the win. On the October 8th, 2006 edition of RAW, Edge hosted an extraordinary Cutting Edge. He invited Randy Orton with the idea of teaming up to rid the WWE of DX. He asked if Randy remembers being kicked out of Evolution and slaughtered at the hands of Triple H.

“You impressed me in 2004 when you became the youngest WWE Champion in history, but since then you’ve done absolutely NOTHING. It can all be traced back to one moment (Edge shows Orton footage of Evolution turning on Orton in 2003). Do you remember that Randy?  You had it all but HHH’s selfishness cost you everything.
Just last week there was another travesty of justice. Shawn Michaels cost me the WWE Championship. DX thinks were jokes. I know your’e not a joke, and I know I’m not a joke. The reason I called you out here tonight was I think we should take a stand. Randy its really simple you can fight me right now or you can join me.”

Their Rivalry with DX

To Orton, that was all that needed to be said. HHH may have been the cerebral assassin, but Edge was the ultimate opportunist. On the next episode of Monday Night Raw, Rated RKO mocked DX. Orton was dressed as HBK with a blonde wig and chaps. Edge was dressed as Triple H, complete with a nose the size of Texas. Degeneration X is not one to turn the other cheek, that is, unless it’s a full moon. Immediately Triple H and Shawn Michaels confronted Rated RKO. Triple H was amused at the two superstars. 

“I don’t get what you guys are doing. You are the youngest WWE Champion in the history of the business. You are The Rated R Superstar. Yet, for some reason, you guys feel like we think your jokes. I mean, Edge, you did that live sex show, even if you couldn’t rise to the occasion.”

Then Triple H instantly stopped joking and became the Game.

“So let me get this straight; you wanna face me tonight. You’re On.” HBK added, “If you think for even one second you’re going to kill the legend that is DX, we got two words for ya.”

WWE Raw Tag Team Champions 

A tag team match was scheduled for November 5th, 2006, Cyber Sunday. Cyber Sunday was an interactive PPV where the fans decide specific match stipulations for those who don’t know. Raw GM Eric Bischoff was chosen as a special guest referee. He had been a victim of DX antics, so when Orton used a steel chair to win, Easy E looked the other way. This was DX s first loss since reforming. The next night on Raw, with Eric Bischoff again as special guest referee, Rated RKO challenged WWE tag team Champions and legends Ric Flair and Roddy Piper. DX cost the match.

On November 13th, 2006, Raw, Rated RKO was granted a rematch. They attacked Rowdy Pipper. Edge smashed Hotrods head with a conchairto. Ric Flair was forced to defend the championship by himself. Interestingly enough, Dx bought a ticket sitting with the fans, but Johnathon Coachman had security usher the two degenerates out of the arena.  Rated RKO won the WWE Raw Tag Team titles. DX finally was able to get back into the building. They fought with security. If you watch closely, you might see a future Celtic warrior take one hell of a pedigree. 

Taking their Rivalry to another Level

At Survivor Series on November 26th, 2006, Team DX challenged Team RKO in a five-on-five elimination match. Randy Orton was the last man eliminated. None of Team DX were eliminated. The night after Survivor Series Rated, RKO took out Ric Flair. They beat The Nature Boy to a bloody pulp. All this was to piss DX off. On December 18th, 2006, on Monday Night Raw, DX and WWE Champion John Cena faced Rated RKO and Umaga. Cena and Umaga battled back to the locker room.  Edge and Orton attacked DX. They threw Hunter into the ring steps. Then they smashed Michaels’ head into a steel chair with a Double RKO. 

They turned their attention back to The Game. After dealing with Umaga and the steel steps, Triple H was injured. Rated RKO conchairto’d The Game on the announce table.

Then there was One…

The tag team champions made their statement loud and clear. At New Years Revolution, DX challenged Rated RKO for the WWE title. In a brutal match that included a spear to Michaels to the floor, Rated RKO retained the titles. Unfortunately for HHH, he tore his quad for the second time in his career. On Monday Night Raw,   Rated RKO celebrated when they were confronted by the last remaining DX member, Shawn Michaels. HBK challenged the champs to a two-on-one handicap match. Somehow The Heartbreak Kid did what he always does and defeated Rated RKO by himself.

He then gave Randy Orton a taste of his own medicine with a conchairto, as Edge looked on helpless. However, on January 22nd, 2007, of RAW, Edge defeated Michaels in a street fight with Ortons help. 

Rated RKO Begins to Implode

In January at the Royal Rumble, both members of Rated RKO were eliminated by HBK. Michaels stayed till the end but was defeated by the Undertaker for the win. With HHH at home resting, HBK found a short alliance with WWE Champion John Cena.  On February 6th, 2007, Cena and Michaels defeated Rated RKO for the WWE Raw tag team title. During the match, HBK hit Edge with the championship belt and threw it to Randy just in time for The Rated R Superstar to turn around.

This was a classic trick that the late great Eddie Guerrero used often. Edge thought Orton hit him and blamed the Viper. He walked out on Orton. As The Legend killer turned around, HBK hit him in the face with a well-placed superkick, followed by an attitude adjustment by Cena. Rated RKO was imploding.

Rated RKO Reconciliation

At WrestleMania 23, both Randy Orton and Edge qualified for the Money In The Bank match. In the weeks that followed, Edge tried to do everything he could to manipulate WWE officials into stacking the deck against Orton. However, when the match finally arrived, both men came within seconds of winning.

Most notably, Edge was a fingertip away from the briefcase when Randy Orton shoved the ladder down, causing the rated R superstar to crash and burn. In Randy Orton’s WWE Championship match against Cena, Edge cost Randy the gold. On April 17th, 2007, hell froze over as Rated RKO got back together over the mutual hatred of John Cena.

On that episode of Raw, both superstars were put in a handicap match against the champ. They would have defeated Cena if it wasn’t once again for Shawn Michaels. When Edge went for a spear, Cena moved, and he hit Randy instead. Then, Michaels kicked Edges head off with sweet chin music. Jerry Lawler once said,

“Shawn Michaels pops up like a pimple on prom night.”

That was never more true when it came to Rated RKO. He was always a thorn in their side. 

At Backlash, Rated RKO was thrown in a fatal four-way with Michaels and John Cena. It indeed was every man for himself. Several times during that match, Orton and Edge worked as a team. However, several times, a spear meant for Cena or HBK ended up knocking Orton out cold. WWE Champion John Cena won the match. 

The End of Rated RKO…For Now 

On April 30th, 2007 edition of Raw, Randy Orton and Edge had a knock-down drag outmatch. Edge slapped Orton. Orton returned the favor gave a stiff right to edge. Both superstars were busted open.  Edge eventually caught Orton with a spear off the ring apron into the announce table. As Orton was out cold, the ultimate opportunist drug him back into the ring. Edge got a little too cocky and climbed to the top turnbuckle. Orton caught him with a perfect dropkick in a midair collision. Orton started to gain momentum but was caught by Edge with a snake eyes to an unprotected turnbuckle.

Edge went for a spear but missed and hit the turnbuckle. Orton attempted the RKO but got shoved off. Edge hit Orton with an earth-shattering spear. Edge got the victory, but Rated RKO was no more. 

On The 15th Anniversary of Monday Night Raw, Evolution had a reunion. Randy Orton was currently the WWE Champion and was starting a legacy of his own. However, Orton never forgot how Evolution treated him after winning the WWE World Heavyweight Title at SummerSlam 2003. As a result, the Viper decided against appearing with Evolution and chose a Rated R reunion instead. 

“I’m not coming out here to join you. Im the WWE Champion. I’m at the pinnacle of my career. The only reason you want me to come down there is so you can ride the coattails of my success, and that’s not going to happen. Besides, I remember the last time I was Champion. I can clearly recall what happened. If I’m going to remembered on Raw for being a member of a team, I want it to be because I was a member of Rated RKO.”

With that, Edge joined Orton with Umaga to challenge Evolution in a superstar six-man tag. Unfortunately, they lost the match due to a disqualification. They also teamed alongside Chavo Guerrero and JBL vs. HHH, John Cena, The Undertaker, and Kane. Edge miraculously got the victory for his team. Edge and Orton also teamed up on an episode of Smackdown against Miz and Morrisson. 

Rated RKO was an alliance built on mutual hate for DX and John Cena. Although an amazing team, Rated RKO is arguably better when being on opposite sides of the ring. They traded the Intercontinental title back and forth in 2003. Right before Edge was forced to retire, Orton was Edges’ main rival due to what was thought to be a career-ending neck injury. In 2020, when Edge beat the odds and returned to the WWE, Randy Orton was his first obstacle. Their rivalry even got so deep that Orton RKO’d WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix, Edge’s wife.

He also put him out of action for several months. But, let us not forget the Countless WWE Championships and World Titles both have captured through their careers. Rated RKO was a special circumstance. One that will probably never occur again. However, in WWE, never say never.