There have been some historic unions in the history of WWE, pairings that seem to intersect on multiple occasions, as either friend or foe. Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage, Bret Hart & Owen Hart, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin & Triple H, John Cena & Batista. But this past Sunday, we saw the return of Edge after nine years, and immediately was forced back into a world where Randy Orton exists. And the Rated R Superstar and Apex Predator resumed a relationship that goes all the way back to 2004.
It was arguably the loudest crowd reaction in WWE since the return of The Hardy Boyz at WrestleMania 33 in 2017, as a familiar theme with it’s opening line “You think you know me”, sent the Royal Rumble audience in Houston, Texas in a raucous frenzy. After nine years of retirement due to serious neck issues, the former 11x World Champion made a miraculous return to the squared circle and the WWE Universe.
Edge first encountered Randy Orton in 2004, when Orton was the young blood in Evolution, alongside Triple H, Batista and Ric Flair. The two feuded over two titles for much of 2004, in singles action over Orton’s WWE Intercontinental Championship (which Edge would finally capture from Orton at July 2004’s Vengeance) and Edge & Chris Benoit‘s WWE World Tag Team titles (against Evolution’s Orton & Batista). By the end of the year, Evolution was no more and the tag feud flipped partners – by 2004’s end, Edge would team with Batista, while Orton was pairing with Chris Benoit.
They barely touched in 2005, but in 2006, the two began their alliance, which would become better known as Rated RKO. They made their debut on the second episode of WWE ECW on SyFi, teaming together to face the tandem of Kurt Angle & Rob Van Dam, and would spend the bulk of 2006 together, including a reign as tag team champions that ran from late 2006 into 2007. They would reunite for a few months in 2009, and sporadically up until Edge’s retirement in 2011.
In 2010, the two would find themselves on opposite sides of the ring once again, as the two jockeyed for position in the World title scene. In June of that year, Edge would face Orton on an episode of Raw, where Edge had to fight Orton with both having one hand tied behind his back. Interestingly, while both men fought each other to get into the World title scene, the two never actually faced off for the title when either of them held their multiple World titles.
When Edge and Orton met in the ring on Sunday, it seemed like Rated RKO was looking to reignite the chemistry that had kept the two more often allies than opponents. But all of that good juju went out the window on Monday night, when – after teasing a return of Rated RKO – Orton instead turned on his former friend, targeting his surgically repaired neck in a brutal series of attacks in the ring.
With WrestleMania season now underway, it seems we’re now seeing the start of Edge’s first storyline in WWE since 2011, as he first has to deal with a former friend & foe, perhaps leading to a grudge match on the Grandest Stage in the World this April in Tampa, Florida.
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