#32 Edge vs. Randy Orton: Intercontinental Championship Match (July 19, 2004)
The Intercontinental Title is held in high esteem in WWE, often seen as the last step a Superstar takes on his path to becoming a World Champion. That idea was stuck in the heads of Edge and Randy Orton as the battled over the prestigious championship.
The competitors who would become Rated-RKO several years down the line were neck and neck with each other in this bout, unable to gain a solid advantage. Edge, the champion, inadvertently took out the referee when The Viper ducked to evade his crossbody block. Orton tried to capitalize, grabbing a steel chair to clobber Edge, but The Rated-R Superstar avoided the attack. In the end, Edge gave Orton a taste of his own medicine, rolling him up with his feet on the ropes for leverage to retain his title.
#36 Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton: Street Fight (June 24, 2013)
Given recent events, it seems like a lifetime ago that Daniel Bryan battled a self-imposed perception of being a “weak link,” but there Bryan was in the summer of 2013, picking a fight with anyone who looked at him the wrong way, especially — in an eerie bit of foreshadowing — Randy Orton. With his first two tilts with The Apex Predator having ended either controversially or indecisively, Bryan and The Viper collided in a Street Fight rubber match with bragging rights on the line, and the “Yes!” man rose rather magnificently to his latest and greatest challenge.
Orton has long been touted as the more vicious of these two competitors, yet Bryan certainly didn’t shy from embracing the gritty stipulation. The introduction of a steel chair proved costly for both men in more ways than one, yet for every attack Orton unleashed, the former WWE Tag Team Champion responded immediately in kind. In the end, Bryan won the way he always promised he would, locking The Viper in a Kendo stick-assisted “Yes!” Lock to force Orton into a rare submission victory. The effort was enough to earn Bryan a handshake from The Apex Predator that showed respect for the beard, respect the fight, and — as is only appropriate after a match like this — respect for the victor.