At this year’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, Randy Orton will defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship inside Satan’s structure against five valiant competitors, and among those contenders will be Christian. The familiar foes squared off on the Feb. 7 edition of SmackDown in a match that brought back memories for many.
Interestingly enough, it was on this day of Feb. 14 nine years ago that Christian and Orton clashed in singles competition for the first time ever on Raw. Little did fans know at the time that the two would go on to have one of the most ruthless rivalries in recent WWE history years later.
With Orton vs. Christian being a favorite feud of mine, I decided to rank each of their encounters from over the years, dating all the way back to their initial match against each other on this day in 2004. Of course, all of them were awesome, but I based the list off the match’s importance, build, execution, result and aftermath.
After feuding for close to four months, Randy Orton and Christian had moved on to greener pastures by September. While Orton was chasing Mark Henry for the World Heavyweight Championship, Christian was just settling into a rivalry with Sheamus. However, that didn’t stop the two from clashing one last time on the Sept. 30 edition of SmackDown.
Two days before the WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, Orton and Christian rekindled their rivalry for one night only. By this point in time, fans were tired of seeing the two face off, no matter how good their matches were. This was yet another example of how well they worked together, but their matches were past the point of feeling fresh.
The only upside to this particular bout was that Christian wasn’t defeated in clean fashion. Interference from Cody Rhodes called for the match to be thrown out, and it was all uncontrolled chaos from there.
After being sidelined with a concussion in late August, Christian returned to action on the Jan. 31 edition of SmackDown. He defeated Jack Swagger to qualify for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber match at the pending pay-per-view.
It was announced three days later on Raw that WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton would be running the gauntlet against all of his Chamber opponents on subsequent weeks on WWE TV. That week on SmackDown, he took on Christian in one-on-one action, the same man who he injured many months earlier.
Of course, the two had a hell of a matchup. The momentum shifted between the two competitors throughout the matchup, with Christian showing no signs of ring rust at all. They managed to capture the same magic from three years prior except with the roles reversed this time around.
The only thing that kept this match from being ranked higher on the list was the fact that the finish to the contests that saw Orton reverse Christian’s sunset flip off the top rope into an RKO, the same ending to most of their matches from 2011. Granted, it was a nice drawback to their storied past, but many fans were hoping for something a bit different for a change.
The Money in the Bank pay-per-view from 2011 holds a special place in my heart. Not only was it the night that CM Punk walked out of the WWE (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) with the WWE Championship, it was also the night that Christian captured his second World Heavyweight Championship.
This came after months of failing to regain the gold he once possessed, and had since been desperately trying to get back. Christian had yet to defeat Orton in singles competition and had already lost to him three times in the past, so this was his one last opportunity at winning back the title.
A stipulation had been put in place the week prior that if Orton got himself disqualified, he would be stripped of the title. Being the malicious heel that he was, Christian found a way to outsmart Orton. He spit into the face of The Viper, causing him to retaliate by kicking Christian in the nether regions and getting himself disqualified in the process.
Moments later, Christian was deemed the victor and immediately grabbed hold of his newly won prestigious prize. Before he could walk away with the belt in hand, Orton lured Christian back to ringside, executing an RKO on him atop the commentary table… twice!
The match that came before this controversy was nothing new, as they had already exhausted most of their options in their three previous encounters. The fans in attendance also didn’t have reason to believe that Christian would be winning in clean fashion, so they didn’t react to many of the near-falls until the very end.
To many, Capitol Punishment is looked back on as one of the worst pay-per-view concepts in recent memory. However, it had its fair share of gems, one being CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio and the other being Christian vs. Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship.
On the June 3 edition of SmackDown, Christian turned heel by laying Orton out with the world title belt. This led to Orton granting Christian another shot at the gold at the inaugural (and only) Capitol Punishment event. Though the tough Washington D.C. crowd was dead for most of the match, the arch rivals eventually won them over and delivered yet another great match.
This should have been the show where Christian got his win back over Orton, but it wasn’t meant to be, apparently. After a relatively good match, Orton pinned Captain Charisma despite his foot being on the bottom rope. In theory, the match should have continued, but the referee didn’t catch it, so Orton emerged victorious yet again.
It was a weak way to keep the feud alive, but at least Christian didn’t have to be pinned cleanly again.
Shortly following his return to the ring in mid-June, Christian began pursuing the World Heavyweight Championship and asking for his well-deserved “one more match”. He was named a participant in the All-Stars Money in the Bank Ladder match, as was his longtime rival Randy Orton.
On the premiere edition of SmackDown in July, the two clashed for the first time since September 2011. This time, however, both were fan favorites and had the WWE Universe behind them every step of the way. Despite not having faced one another for nearly two years, they were still able to click as soon as they hooked up.
Bringing back memories from their unforgettable feud, Orton and Christian went back and forth for close to 13 minutes and proved to the fans that they were still capable of having great matches. Christian may have come up on the losing end (again), but at least he looked good in defeat against his arch rival.
Eight days removed from his controversial title win turn at SummerSlam, Randy Orton was sitting atop the company as its WWE champion. In his first official match as champ, Orton took on familiar foe Christian on Raw.
This time, however, Christian was the face and Orton was the heel, so the complexion of the contest had changed completely. It was only three weeks earlier that Christian had pinned Orton in a match to become the No. 1 contender to the World Heavyweight Championship, so The Viper was out for retribution.
As expected, the two had a great matchup, but the the reversal of the roles made the match all the more interesting. With Christian as the beloved babyface and Orton as the hated heel, this is how their 2011 rivalry should have been from the start.
Despite a resilient effort on the part of Captain Charisma, Orton resorted to dirty tactics by thumbing him in the eye and nailing him with the RKO. As it later turned out, Christian suffered a concussion (which would sideline him for action for four months) at one point during the bout and still managed to finish the match, so kudos to him for that.
Long before they ever feuded over the World Heavyweight Championship, Randy Orton and Christian met on the Valentine’s Day edition of Raw in 2005. Christian had been on fire as a singles star at the time with Tyson Tomko at his side while Randy Orton was a red-hot babyface looking to challenge The Undertaker’s storied streak at WrestleMania 21.
The week prior on Raw in Japan, Christian attacked Orton from behind, setting the stage for this matchup. Since they had never gone one-on-one before, fans were unsure what to expect from them, but were surely in for one heck of a contest.
Although Christian scored plenty of offense over Orton, the live crowd was heavily behind The Legend Killer throughout the bout. Tomko interfered and landed a big boot on Orton, but not even that could put down the former world champion for the three count.
After a series of false finishes, Christian was ready to execute a Killswitch on Orton, only for Orton to leap frog over Christian and drop him with a beautiful-looking RKO. Christian proved that night that he was more than capable of hanging with the cream of the crop, even if he wasn’t world title worthy.
Following his loss of the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam, Christian demanded acting-SmackDown General Manager Bret Hart for one more match against Orton, which he received on the Tuesday night SmackDown special on Aug. 30. And what better to close out one of the best feuds of 2011 than inside a steel cage?
The episode itself was a bit of a letdown, so fans were looking to this match to save the show. Needless to say, it definitely did.
For nearly 20 minutes, Orton and Christian gave it their all, pulling everything out of their arsenal to put the other away. The steel structure that surrounded the ring did them no justice, doing damage to the already beaten bodies of both competitors.
As Christian scurried to escape the cage by climbing to the top, Orton went after him and thwarted his cowardly plan. The two traded blows on the side of the structure before Orton secured the neck of Captain Charisma and executed an RKO off the top rope. It was an amazing visual that allowed Orton to pick up the victory and successfully retain his precious prize.
At 2011’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view, Christian realized a dream when he defeated Alberto Del Rio in a Ladder match to win his first World Heavyweight Championship. Five days later on SmackDown, he cut a promo during the opening segment thanking the fans for all their support and discussing how much the title meant to him.
He was soon interrupted by the likes of Randy Orton, Mark Henry and The Great Khali, who all declared themselves worthy of a title shot. Then-SmackDown General Manager then turned to the fans in attendance, asking them who they wanted to see face Christian for the world title on that show. To the surprise of anyone, Orton was ultimately chosen as Christian’s opponent.
For the first time in over six years, Christian and Orton met in one-on-one action, showing that their in-ring chemistry was even better than it was during their initial encounter. The match was well-built and the live crowd was hanging on every near-fall, excited to see who would emerge the victor.
Christian was looking to prove himself that he was indeed worthy of being a world champion, while Orton was determined to make an impact in his first match as a SmackDown Superstar. The match gradually became more suspenseful down the stretch with finishers being countered by both Orton and Christian.
In the final few moments of the matchup, Christian looked to hit Orton with a sunset flip from the top rope, only for Orton to connect with an RKO out of nowhere instead. The feeling among fans was bittersweet in that Orton had won back the same title he held seven years prior, but it had come at the expense of the distraught Christian.
The commentators played up Orton’s shocking title victory as he celebrated and how Christian’s reign as champion had come to an end after only five days. Christian showed signs of despair as he exited the arena, planting the seeds for his eventual heel turn.
After months of battling for the World Heavyweight Championship, the rivalry between Randy Orton and Christian came to a head at SummerSlam in August. Christian had just won the world title in controversial fashion at Money in the Bank and Orton looked to invoke his rematch clause at the biggest blockbuster of the summer, this time in a No Holds Barred match.
Two days before the show, Christian announced on SmackDown that he would have the “best thing going” in his corner. Of course, the mystery person that Christian was referring to was ultimately revealed to be Edge, who refused to help Christian cheat and instead left the arena.
The two had clashed multiple times in the three months that preceded this contest, but that didn’t make this match any less entertaining. They made excellent use of the extreme environment that surrounded them and unleashed their aggression on one another using chairs, kendo sticks and steel chairs, among other weapons.
Apparently, Christian didn’t learn from his mistakes, as he went for the same sunset flip that cost him the world title the first time and received the same result. Only this time, it was executed on the steel steps in grandiose fashion.
The top three are definitely arguable, but to me, the match between Christian and Randy Orton from 2011’s Over the Limit pay-per-view was the best of the bunch. Christian lost his World Heavyweight Championship to Orton three weeks prior, but he still had his rematch clause, he wasn’t losing hope just yet.
In the weeks preceding the event, Christian and Orton earned the other’s respect by aiding one another against Sheamus and Mark Henry. Since their first match together was so great, fans were highly anticipating the title rematch between the two.
Of course, the match lived up to everyone’s expectations, and even exceeded some. It managed to just barely outshine its predecessor with exciting action and captivating reversals from bell-to-bell.
On an otherwise throwaway show, Orton vs. Christian was the highlight the night. Both competitors had spectacular performances and proved to the world that they deserved the main event spot over John Cena and The Miz.
Like almost every other match on this list, Orton had his arm raised by the conclusion of the contest and walked out with his title intact, but as history would go, their storied rivalry was far from over.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham “GSM” Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and “like” his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.