Triple H recently reunited Evolution, the group that he originally founded back in 2003. Along with Batista and former WWE world champion Randy Orton, Triple H attacked The Shield on the April 14 edition of Monday Night Raw. Both sides have now been booked in a huge six-man tag team match set for Extreme Rules on May 4.
And while the return of Evolution undoubtedly has many WWE fans feeling a bit nostalgic, the fact is that some may be missing the fourth man of the group, Ric Flair. But the truth is that Ric's presence is not needed for Evolution to succeed in WWE.
It seems impossible to even consider that one of professional wrestling's greatest of all time would not be a necessary part of a legendary WWE stable. After all, Flair is the 16-time world heavyweight champion, the man that elevated Triple H's faction upon its inception.
Flair acted as the teacher, the veteran that helped guide Orton and Batista as they each honed their craft. He was the legend whose swagger and cockiness clearly defined the group's attitude and personality.
Without Ric Flair in the mix, Evolution would not have been the same.
The entire dynamic of the group would not have been clearly established from the beginning; Flair's role was that of the past, the foundation for Evolution. His past dominance in the industry as NWA world champion allowed The Four Horsemen to set the tone for all heel teams that followed. He was the measuring stick and the Horsemen were the standard bearers.
If not for Ric Flair and the work he did with The Four Horsemen, there would have never been an Evolution. His presence was absolutely vital for that group to succeed and they would not have been successful without him.
But the same could perhaps not be said now. The reason for that lies in the fact that even after all these years, Flair is still as popular, still as entertaining as he ever has been. And that is not exactly what the reunited Evolution needs right now.
The storyline involving Evolution began when The Shield attacked Triple H's handpicked Director of Operations, Kane. The Hounds of Justice had never been a group accustomed to taking orders from anyone and that included WWE's ruling class. And even though they had been acting as The Game's personal police force, the fact is that eventually that alliance had worn very thin.
Basically, The Shield were tired of being directed and decided to take the reins back from Triple H and The Authority.
Assaulting Kane was the first shot fired and that conflict led to a WrestleMania match that The Shield won. But the real drama began the night after Mania when Roman Reigns speared Triple H. The moment escalated, leading The Shield into a melee with Kane, Batista and Randy Orton.
Evidently, Kane was just the appetizer. But Triple H is the main course.
And now that the match for Extreme Rules has been set, the fact is that it's The Shield's time to shine. Their recent face turn was a very big moment not only for them but for the fans that have been watching and respecting their work since they debuted in 2012. The Shield have been on an unprecedented roll, riding a wave of momentum that has led them to the moment that many perhaps did not see coming.
The Shield can now stand in the middle of the ring and absorb the adulation of the crowd as three of the arguably hottest babyfaces in WWE. Their time to soak it all in and use it to rise above their station in the company has come. It's time for The Shield to take that next step to true main event stardom.
On the other side of that coin is Evolution.
And as much as The Shield needs to be cheered, to be over to the max as protagonists, Evolution must be hated. In fact, they must be despised.
It's the only way that The Shield can continue to move upward in their new roles as heroes for the fans. The reason for that is because without truly hated heels to work against, The Shield will never succeed as faces.
After all, they were the heels that were truly hated. And now that mantle is left to be carried by another trio.
That trio is Evolution, who must be as bad as they can be in order to receive the desired crowd response when they face The Shield. For the most part, that is not a problem. Both Batista and Orton are firmly established as heels and neither man has done very much to warrant a positive crowd reaction at all.
The same can be said for Triple H, who spent the last half of 2013 into the first few months of 2014 attempting to keep Daniel Bryan down. His work in that angle did nothing but reaffirm his role as the top heel in WWE.
Individually, all three men are disliked. But together they must be reviled. And that simply will not happen if The Nature Boy Ric Flair is in the equation once again.
Does Evolution need Ric Flair to succeed in WWE?
Ric is funny. He's lighthearted. He's very entertaining and he's very fun to watch. And if Evolution is to succeed as heels, Ric cannot be at their side laughing and cracking jokes. His first time with the group was different. They were still heels but they had adopted Ric's swagger and lust for life. They carried themselves like the modern-day Four Horsemen and it worked on every level.
But today's Evolution is not the limousine-riding, jet-flying faction that they once were. This Evolution is out for revenge. They're out for blood. And they will not stop until they erase The Shield from WWE.
Their intensity level is at an all-time high and there can be no chance for fans to even remotely find them fun. This is not a DX reunion; Evolution will not be tossing glow sticks to the crowd or prompting them to recite their catchphrases.
Evolution is all business. And unfortunately for his supporters, that business may not involve the legendary Ric Flair.