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  • Writer's pictureMatt Dod

The Ace Crusher, Diamond Cutter or RKO?

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

The video for this article is here:


Standing on a piece of Lego in the dead of night. Being rear-ended by an oblivious driver. Pooing your pants after one too many beers.

Some things just come out of nowhere.

So is the case with a wrestling move known as the RKO.

This devastating finishing manoeuvre can trace it’s lineage back to 1987. A time of mullets and just the right amount of denim, when an industry veteran Barry Windham was taking a class at his prestigious wrestling school. In his gym was a young John Laurinaitis;

“I was a young kid training and Barry Windham said to me, ‘Why don’t you do a front face neckbreaker as a move? ” Laurinaitis commented in an interview with WWE.

Sometimes it can be that simple. And so as the move has become known for it’s quickness and instant unpredictability, seemingly so was it’s inception.

Lauranaitis coined the name Ace Crusher for the finisher and as his character, Johnny Ace moved throughout Japan in 1988, he stood out in a competitive generation comprising the likes of Kenta Kobashi and Dr. Death Steve Williams in All Japan Pro Wrestling.

1988 as a time of evolution in wrestling, with many wrestlers still inventing new moves and adapting variant of old fan favourites. As such, when the time was right and Johnny Ace first used the Ace Crusher in the Korakuen Hall, Tokyo’s famed martial arts venue, the crowd on the night were shocked and amazed.

“The crowd cheered and then went into awe, because they’d never seen a move like that before,” Laurinaitis recalled.

John Lauranaitis passed on his knowledge in a similar vein to which he had himself learnt the ropes.

Here is where the transitional nature of wrestling at the time gives us a fork in the history of the RKO.

Two men, both with vastly different backgrounds and histories, in-ring styles and personalities adopted the move and added their own take.

One was Stone Cold Steve Austin, who adapted the move indirectly into one of the most iconic wrestling moves of all time, the stone-cold stunner. For more on that see this video.

The other fork in the road leads us to Diamond Dallas Page, or DDP for short. One of the kindest and most honourable men within the wrestling industry, he has consistently helped those around him both friend and stranger to better themselves through fitness and wellbeing.

His DDP Yoga has helped thousands of people and DDP seems like a great guy. I have to mention this every time I bring up Diamond Dallas Page, such a rarity, especially for the time in wrestling.

He electrified the late 90’s in WCW with his version of the Ace Crusher which he called the Diamond Cutter. DDP learnt the move first-hand from John Lauranaitis, keeping it technically very similar and instantly took the move to new heights. Bringing it to a wider audience in the US at a real peek in wrestling’s history.


Continuing the move’s legacy. Diamond Dallas Page taught the move to third-generation wrestler by the name of Randy Orton.

A performer who has been consistently in the top tier, since his debut in April od 2002. 17 years of technical wizardry, solid performances and incredible mic work as a villain has led to Randy Orton having a glittered career throughout WWE. His time as protégé in Evolution with HHH, Batista & Ric Flair.

His legend killer persona, which saw him taking out fan favourites and heroes of the past, and spitting in the face of wrestling icon Harley Race. Orton was the youngest ever WWE World Champion, when he won the belt for the first time in 2004. And has since gone on to be one of the most highly decorated wrestlers of all time.

A key component throughout Randy Orton’s whole career – The RKO.

Pro Wrestling Wiki States: “The move sees the wrestler jumping towards the opponent and grabbing the opponent's head in a three-quarter facelock while parallel to the ground, and then slamming the opponent's face to the mat in a cutter position.”

Orton’s in-ring character is buttery smooth in his execution of the vicious and often brutal offence. The viper, a coiled snake, has a calculated approach to his matches and rarely misses the opportunity to act suddenly and finish his opponent.

His version of the Ace Crusher or Diamond Cutter, renamed the RKO or Randy Knock Out has silenced crowds, turning matches on their head in an instant. It has led Orton to the top and beaten a list of names that any wrestler past or present could be proud of.

In WWE the RKO has stopped young up-starts, concussed wily veterans and destroyed an old lady or two. When catching opponents out of the air, Randy Orton really changed his game. Once the move was unpredictable from a standing position, but now, Orton can stop an enemy mid-move, with his patented RKO and it’s 1,2,3.

Outside of the wrestling universe, the RKO has become a viral sensation of its own, the quickness of the move overlaid on videos, allowing for hilarious and sometimes dark mash-ups. OUTTA NOWHERE.

The video for this article is here:


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