Mutual respect didn’t keep Randy Orton from hitting United States Champion Jeff Hardy with a RKO (out of you-know-where) heading into their showdown at Backlash on May 6.
As they entered the arena in Newark, the SmackDown announce team was focused on how long it’s been since Hardy and Orton faced each other one-on-one. It’s been ten years, and over that time Hardy and Orton have amassed 38 championships between them. And while that led to their admiration for one another, and Jeff quickly honoring the rematch clause he inherited from Jinder Mahal, it didn’t keep things from being more intense from the opening bell.
The Viper shoved the champ off the ropes as he prepared to fly as follow-up for a back elbow. As payback for being sent crotch-first into the ring post there, Hardy blasted Orton with a leaping kick on the outside.
But that just incensed the challenger, who used a drop kick off the apron and three back drops onto the barricade to take complete control. After a quick cover, it was time for Randy to get methodical. It was chin lock city for a time, but Hardy managed to get free and connect with Whisper in the Wind.
Each man had the other scouted, however. An RKO counter to a Twist of Fate didn’t hit, but Orton did hit moves like a scoop slam and the rope-hung DDT. As he slithered into place for his finisher, however, The Charismatic Enigma knew what was coming.
A Twist of Fate set-up a Swanton, and the U.S. Title is staying with Hardy.
Plus, Jeff has his win back from a decade ago.
Get complete Backlash results and coverage of the entire card here.