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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

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EOTR Tag Team Tuesdays: Evolution

By @AmeenKnows 


Contrary to popular belief on Twitter, my favorite wrestler is Triple H and not John Cena. One of my favorite things about The Game is his mind for the business and in 2002, he put together one bad ass stable. Today, for Tag Team Tuesday, we will talk a stable and not just a tag team. Let's take a look at Evolution.


Around late 2002, Brock Lesnar won the WWE Championship and declared he'd only defend the title on the Smackdown brand. A few weeks later, Eric Bischoff introduces the World Heavyweight Championship and apoints Triple H as the Red brand's Champion. Ric Flair, unsatisfied with Bischoff just handing over the belt to Hunter, challenges Triple H to a match which Triple H would go on to win. At Unforgiven, Flair helped Hunter defeat Rob Van Dam to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. So far, you have Flair and Triple H and the pieces slowly start to put themselves together.



Within the passing months, Flair began accompanying both Triple H and Batista to the ring for their matches. Orton was recovering from a shoulder injury during this time. The group was finally united on January 20, 2003 after an attack on Scott Steiner. However, Batista's impact would be put on hold after injuring his triceps. With Flair and Orton flanking his side, Triple H was able to escape with his World Title reign in tact night in and night out, including wins over Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash and even Goldberg in the Elimination Chamber at SummerSlam. Orton would also begin to come into his own developing one of the most popular gimmicks among fans, the Legend Killer. At Unforgiven 2003, Orton would kill his first legend in Shawn Michaels, but Triple H would lose his World Heavyweight Championship to Goldberg. Batista would make his return by crushing Goldberg's ankle between a steel chair. At Survivor Series, Orton's star continued to rise as he became the sole survivor on Team Bischoff while Goldberg was still able to defeat Triple H again despite Evolution's help. At Armageddon, as everyone knows, Evolution completed a clean sweep of Monday Night Raw's Men's Championships with Flair and Batista winning the World Tag Team Titles, Orton winning the Intercontinental Championship, and Triple H winning back the World Heavyweight Championship.



Heading into 2004 on top of the world, Evolution retained the World Tag Team titles and the World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble. At WrestleMania, Orton, Flair and Batista defeated the Rock N' Sock Connection while Triple H once again dropped the World Title, this time to Chris Benoit. The loss to Benoit planted the seeds for the eventual split of the stable as Benoit, with help from Edge, defeated Batista and Flair for the World Tag Team Titles. Orton would also drop his Intercontinental Championship to Edge at Vengeance. At SummerSlam, Randy Orton finally broke through and won the World Heavyweight Championship by beating Benoit. The next night on Raw, he was kicked out of Evolution due to Triple H's jealously.


At Unforgiven, Triple H would defeat Orton and take back the World Heavyweight Championship. At Survivor Series, Orton won a traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match granting his teammates the right to be GM of Raw for a week. With his turn as GM, Orton cost Triple H his World Title in a controversial triple threat match which led to the title being vacated. Triple H would regain the title once again at New Years Revolution 2005 in an Elimination Chamber match.


As 2005 rolled in, there were now three members of Evolution. Soon though, there would only be two left. At the Royal Rumble, more seeds of doubt were planted amongst the group between Triple H and Batista. Batista, who was scheduled to perform in the Royal Rumble match, wanted to go get his number for the match. Triple H, who had a title defense against Orton to worry about later that night, wanted to talk strategy and they began to argue. Ric Flair would patch things up between the two and when Batista went to get his number, Eric Bischoff notified him that Evolution was banned from ringside, meaning Triple H's strategy talk would become meaningless. Hunter would retain his title as Batista would go on to win the Royal Rumble match. Afraid that Batista would come after him, Triple H tried to talk him into challenging JBL for the WWE Championship, even going as far as setting Batista up and blaming JBL. The night Batista was to choose who he'd face, he overheard Triple H telling Flair of his plans. This in turn, led to Batista attacking Flair and Triple H later that night, choosing to challenge Hunter at WrestleMania and effectively ending his run with Evolution. At WrestleMania 21, Batista defeated Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship. The two would battle for the World Title two more times at Backlash and Vengeance before Batista was drafted to Smackdown ending the feud. After Vengeance, Triple H took time off but would return in October and turn on Flair, effectively ending Evolution.



Evolution's original incarnation is in my top 5 stables of all time. I went a little outside the box because this group is just too good to focus on only Flair and Batista. I also tried to keep this short because everyone knows the history of Evolution. Its just a rehash of how things were. The Raw roster was in a terrible state during most of the group's run. The midcard was weak so WWE really didn't have much room to just snatch guys like Jericho or Christian randomly and turn them into main event stars out the blue. They were pretty bad at character development at that time also, so they filled out the main event scene with old WCW talent and it was pretty bad, but Triple H made out the best that he could with it. The thing I loved most was Triple H's speech that Flair was the Past, He was the Present and Orton/Batista were the future. They played to that to the absolute fullest. Randy Orton showed from early on that he was a star. His Legend Killer helped him hit the ground running. He didn't face scrubs either. His top kills included Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and Sgt. Slaughter. So he went from Legend Killer to Intercontinental Champion to World Heavyweight Champion all in his 2 years with the group, thus cementing his status as a star. Batista took a bit longer but as the Arn Anderson enforcer type, he was always primed and ready to attack and defend his teammates when called upon. I remember at SummerSlam 2004, he was in a triple threat match with Edge and Chris Jericho for the IC Title. He didn't win but I really wanted him too. Next thing you know he's the World Heavyweight Champion.


People give Triple H a lot of flack for the shovel job he gave to damn near the entire Raw roster, but what you can't deny is he took 2 very young and talented guys and he got them to where he envisioned them making it to. He got them to the launching pad of stardom and it would turn out that all 4 of these men will one day be together again in the Hall of Fame. I wasn't a big fan of the 2014 return, however their purpose was to put The Shield over and they did that to perfection and proved once again why they are one of the greatest ever. The only thing I would change is Orton dropping the World Heavyweight Championship one month after winning it, but that seemed more like a backstage thing than Triple H being selfish. Also Goldberg, as much as I don't like him, should have won the World Heavyweight Championship in the Elimination Chamber match at SummerSlam 2003 instead of Unforgiven. Otherwise, the run for Evolution was perfect.

-Ameen

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