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20110419_xr_orton_punkIn what is sure to be their most chaotic and career-changing encounter yet, bitter rivals Randy Orton and CM Punk will collide at Extreme Rules in a Last Man Standing Match.

The only way to emerge victorious in a Last Man Standing Match is to brutalize one’s opponent to the point where they can no longer rise to their feet in response to a referee’s 10-count. Judging by the tumultuous history between The Viper and The Second City Saint, these two competitors aim to settle the score under appropriately hazardous circumstances.

Since there are no disqualifications in a Last Man Standing Match, Punk – backed by The New Nexus – would seem to have an advantage at Extreme Rules. However, Orton will no doubt look to capitalize on the group’s apparent instability as of late … and perhaps its waning faith in The Second City Savior.

Not one to forgive or forget, the New Nexus overlord harbored long-gestating resentment for WWE’s Apex Predator dating back to Unforgiven in 2008, when Orton punted Punk in the skull and cost The Straight Edge Superstar the World Heavyweight Championship. In 2011, Punk exacted revenge against Orton by interfering in The Viper’s WWE Title Match at Royal Rumble against defending Champion The Miz. In the weeks that followed, a seething Orton sought retribution by targeting Punk’s New Nexus underlings, punting each of them in the skull until only their leader remained.

To counter this physical threat, the calculating Punk elected to take the psychological route, stalking Orton’s wife and assaulting an off-guard Viper with a wrench just two weeks before their anticipated WrestleMania XXVII clash. Hobbled with an injured knee, Orton was unable to punt The Straight Edge Superstar as he did the rest of The New Nexus, but nevertheless sealed a decisive victory over Punk with an RKO on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

Although Orton had dealt The New Nexus a series of crippling blows – culminating with Punk’s humbling loss at The Show of Shows – the armbanded rogues recuperated, costing The Viper the No. 1 contendership to The Miz’s WWE Title during a Five-Man Gauntlet Match on the April 11 edition of Raw. With championship glory once again wrested from his grasp by The New Nexus, a determined Orton battled and defeated Punk again the following Monday night in a hard-fought WrestleMania rematch that only fanned the fires of their scorching mutual contempt.

Will the coiled Viper sink his fangs into Punk yet again? Or will the self-aggrandizing Punk earn a tainted victory with the help of his New Nexus cronies? To find out, tune in to Extreme Rules, May 1, live on pay-per-view.

Debbie Wiseman Apr 19, 2011