One of the brutal matches in WWE historyIn 2004, Randy Orton was a rookie. He had a strong attitude that earned him a bad reputation backstage, and he hadn't had a huge moment in his career so far. Of course, at one stage, we're all young, eager and obnoxious. At WrestleMania that year, Randy Orton, Batista, and one of their mentors from Evolution, Ric Flair, took on The Rock 'n' Sock Connection, consisting of part-timers The Rock and Mick Foley, in a 2-on-3 handicap match. Orton pinned Foley to pick up the victory in that match, which, in quite a hit-and-miss WrestleMania, delivered as much as it should have, but the history of their rivalry dates back much before that. Arguably, Foley was Orton's first 'Legend Target', in a long list, as he hadn't yet acquired his 'Legend Killer' gimmick at the time. One thing for certain, though, was that this match was absolutely brutal.
#1 The build-up
In June of 2003, on an episode of Raw, following a segment which was supposed to be a tribute to Mick Foley and his achievements, Ric Flair and Randy Orton, established members of Evolution, attacked Foley and he was sidelined (kayfabe) for six months, returning in December.
In the attack, which was backstage, Foley was thrown down a flight of stairs (similar to Orton in his feud with Wade Barrett many years later. Karma maybe?). Upon his return, he was placed in as Raw co-General Manager, as a replacement for Stone Cold Steve Austin, and he made himself the challenger for Randy Orton’s Intercontinental Championship.
Instead of participating in the match, Foley surprisingly walked out, after a sign of disrespect, when Orton spit in his face. When Austin returned as General Manager, he inserted Foley in the Royal Rumble match, in which he would eliminate Orton, and in the process, himself. The two would brawl on all the way up the ramp and backstage.
Along the line, close to WrestleMania XX, The Rock returned, in similar fashion as he would now, for one match only, and reformed The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection. The duo challenged Orton, Batista and Flair to a match at the event.
The numbers game caught up with the two, and as mentioned earlier, Orton pinned Foley for the win, which furthered the rivalry towards Backlash. Two weeks after WrestleMania, Foley challenged Orton to an Intercontinental Championship Hardcore match at Backlash (A Raw-Exclusive event), and on the same night Orton accepted. It would be a huge milestone in the career of Randy Orton.