CM Punk forgot one very important detail about Randy Orton. Even on The Grandest Stage of Them All, The Viper can unleash a devastating RKO at any time. That’s exactly what happened inside the sold-out Georgia Dome as Orton delivered his trademark maneuver mid-air to The New Nexus leader.
As if he were a master tactician, CM Punk wisely targeted Orton’s injured knee, the same knee that The Second City Savior attacked on Raw with a wrench. With his New Nexus cohorts out of the equation, the strategy seemed nothing short of brilliant. With his ultimate goal of exacting revenge on Orton for causing him to vacate the World Heavyweight Title in 2008, CM Punk wanted nothing more than to humiliate The Viper in front of more than 70,000, including his family, at The Show of Shows.
Since The New Nexus first attacked Randy Orton, both The Viper and Punk have struggled to get inside each other’s heads, trying to gain the important psychological advantage heading into Atlanta. While Orton took out each member of The New Nexus with a punt to the head, Punk took a much more personal approach, using Orton’s tour bus and his family as bait to sadistically injure The Viper’s knee. In a true showing of his resilience, Orton – barely able to walk – confronted The Straight Edge Superstar a week later, only to be left unconscious in the middle of the ring from a GTS.
However, Randy Orton is certainly one of the most tenacious Superstars in WWE history and never backs down from a fight, especially at WrestleMania. The Viper battled through his pain and proved to the world why he is WWE’s Apex Predator. Even as The Straight Edge Superstar continued to target Orton’s knee, The Viper refused to yield.
CM Punk’s targeting of The Viper’s knee may have been enough to stop a lethal punt to the head, but as Orton has shown time after time in the squared circle, an RKO can devastate an opponent in the blink of an eye. Perhaps it was CM Punk’s overconfidence, but his seemingly ingenious strategy backfired as he attempted to take Orton down with a springboard clothesline. The Viper saw an opening, a pristine opportunity to silence his opponent and leave WrestleMania victorious.
More than 70,000 flash bulbs went off as CM Punk leapt from the top rope only to be met by a memorable RKO heard across the WWE Universe, putting The Second City Savior out for good. As Orton’s hand was raised in victory, the WWE Universe witnessed The Viper at his best, on The Grandest Stage of Them All.