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This Week in Wrestling: Randy Orton wins his first WWE World Championship

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As the WWE’s 30th annual SummerSlam draws nearer, I’d like to take this time to look back at what I feel has become one of the more overlooked moments in SummeSlam history, especially in light of the events that took place in the years afterwards.

On August 15, 2004, the Canadian province of Ontario welcomed the WWE with open arms into the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The term “Bizarro World” had never been more fitting as throughout the night, the rowdy Toronto crowd seemed to stray away from the norm and strongly support the usually less favored wrestlers, none more evident than Intercontinental champion Edge being booed in his own hometown, with the crowd siding with the then heel Evolution monster Batista.

In the lead-up to the event, Randy Orton won a 20-man battle royal to earn the right to face the World Heavyweight Champion, Chris Benoit, who had won the championship at WrestleMania XX four months prior, in the main event of SummerSlam. The self-proclaimed Legend Killer gained the victory and the championship after a series of counters between the two ending with Orton smoothly reversing the Crippler Crossface into the RKO for the 3 count after which a shocked and bewildered Jim Ross exclaimed, “with the suddenness of a lightning strike… the RKO from nowhere,” coining the phrase which would later become Orton’s signature.

Orton basked in the cheers of the crowd as he held the championship high above his head in tears. Even in defeat, Benoit showed the brash young champion the ultimate sign of respect, offering a handshake which Orton accepted. With this victory, Orton dethroned the freshly departed Brock Lesnar as the youngest WWE champion in history. This moment cemented Orton’s credibility as a main eventer for years to come all the way up to current day as Orton captured his most recent WWE Championship at WrestleMania 33 in Orlando, Fl. The question remains if some young superstar will eventually take Orton’s place in history, but as of now, The Apex Predator seems to have a stranglehold (or rather a headlock) on that prestigious distinction.

via @cdubb106

Christian is an avid wrestling fan who began watching in the summer of 2001. His passion for the business starts and ends with the history of the sport. He loves holding discussions with fellow fans about their opinions on events in wresting history spanning all promotions and time periods. He currently has plans to co-host a podcast with fellow FightBoothPW contributor Brandon Miller (@brandonpsmc). If anyone would like to reach Christian, they can email him at cwaughh16@gmail.com or his Twitter account @cdubb106

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