7 Greatest Moments in Evolution's History
Evolution most often thrilled WWE fans when it was splintering.
Friction between Ric Flair, Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista not only created a number of classic moments but also helped catapult two emerging talents into headlining status. Today, three of the four members are back together, looking to add to that collection of greatest hits.
The Shield have awakened a three-headed monster.
Evolution defeated two legends at WrestleMania, imploded on the air and all took home gold over a decade ago. The rankings on the following list were determined by which of these moments most stuck in fans' minds, which were the most thrilling and which ones most helped the members become stars.
The tension between The Shield and Evolution is already heightened. Their powerful collision at Extreme Rules will likely expand this catalog of destruction.
Evolution's first reunion happened back in 2007, but the group was far from as united as it was when it assaulted The Shield seven years later.
Before fans had a chance to celebrate seeing the foursome back together, Randy Orton made it clear that he had no forgiveness in him. Still seething over the group attacking him after SummerSlam 2004, he decided to instead pair up with Edge and Umaga.
This fracturing of the group had sparks of excitement but nothing like Evolution's biggest implosions of the past.
Like Evolution's teamwork during the Elimination Chamber match at SummerSlam 2003, it's not one of the most enduring images the stable created. Seeing Orton and Ric Flair use treachery and self-sacrifice to keep Triple H world champ was mighty fun though.
The moments that made the list proper were more stirring, reaching deeper into the audience by way of suspense, violence or villainous triumph.
7. Evolution Defeats Mick Foley and the Rock at WrestleMania XX
Evolution's biggest match as a group came at WrestleMania XX opposite two all-time greats. The Rock 'N' Sock Connection reformed to take on Ric Flair, Batista and Randy Orton.
This marked both Orton and Batista's first WrestleMania match.
Even with the lopsided nature of the battle, the young stars defeat of a pair of legends felt momentous. The story of Flair guiding the young guns to WWE's higher rungs was coming true. Being one of the most engaging handicap matches in WWE history certainly helped as well.
Often times, though, it was Evolution's actions outside of the ring that created the strongest memories.
6. Evolution Reunites
Three members of Evolution proved that one hatred can overpower another.
Randy Orton, Batista and Triple H found themselves united once again despite how much animosity they shared in the past. A common contempt for The Shield brought the trio together again.
They walloped Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose after they had taken on 11 men in a handicap match. Seeing "The Hounds of Justice" play the victims was startling.
The viciousness of their attack on their black-clad enemies sucked the audience in. Evolution reminded us of the destruction they are capable of, setting up a stable-versus-stable feud teeming with potential.
The thrill of the past merging with the present makes this one of Evolution's best moments to date.
Fans are eager to see what it will lead to. Should that beatdown be the catalyst for an all-time great feud, they will look at this night as an even more significant one, forcing an adjustment of these rankings.
5. Evolution Officially Forms
A world champion, a living legend and two emerging talents gathered in the ring in February of 2003.
Energy crackled as fans awaited to hear what the four villains were up to. They had attacked Scott Steiner on Jan. 20 with no explanation.
Triple H announced that we were all witnessing the evolution of professional wrestling with each member representing the past, present or future of the business.
Seeing the pieces of this supergroup come together was compelling, although many of Evolution's other greatest hits were more violent and more exhilarating. Unity tugs at fans' attention, but discord seizes it.
4. Batista Breaks Away
Triple H wanted Batista to remain his underling and "The Animal" refused.
Batista had his choice of championship matches after winning the 2005 Royal Rumble—battling John "Bradshaw" Layfield for the WWE title or taking on his own stablemate for the World Heavyweight Championship. It looked as if Batista was going to go with what "The Game" wanted him to do, but instead he delivered an unforgettable beatdown.
Batista went after Triple H, effectively ending Evolution.
Not only is Batista staring stone-faced at his partner while aiming his thumb down one of the most memorable moments in the group's history, but it was also the launching point for him as a solo star. He went on to win the world title at WrestleMania 21, achieving his career apex.
More dramatic infighting tops this moment, though.
3. Randy Orton Refuses to Lie Down
Randy Orton's split from the group was powered by the drama of spittle splashing in Triple H's face.
Orton, the recently crowned world champ, faced his leader in the ring. A bandage covered a wound Triple H had carved into his head. Triple H played the abusive general, demanding that his soldier fall in line and give him the championship.
Orton refused in a most memorable way.
Suspense swelled as Orton seemed to truly consider handing over his title. He then spit on "The Game" and cracked him over the head with the belt.
This began what WWE had created Evolution for—to make Orton a star on his own. Orton and Triple H's long rivalry started in earnest here, pushing Orton out of the group and into the limelight.
Spitting at one's boss beats giving him a thumbs down in terms of excitement, but this moment falls to No. 3 thanks to the violent, enthralling scene that played out before this.
2. A Celebration Ends in Bloodshed
Envy eventually drove Triple H mad.
That meant that he was not only not in the mood to celebrate Randy Orton successfully defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Chris Benoit, but he was also eager to destroy him. Evolution hoisted Orton up only to send him crashing to the mat.
Triple H's thumbs down and subsequent attack shocked in the present and still resonates today.
One can't think back on the Evolution story without flashing back to this first major crack in the group. It remains an enduring image.
There is just one picture that Evolution created that is more indelible. It came before Batista's departure and Triple H's betrayal of Orton. It was the night that every man in the group claimed a crown to wear on his head.
1. Every Member a Champion
At the end of Armageddon 2003, Evolution's members stood on the entrance ramp and each raised championships in the air.
Randy Orton won the Intercontinental Championship that night. Ric Flair and Batista dethroned the tag team champs. Triple H outlasted both Kane and Goldberg to take home the World Heavyweight Championship.
The moment announced to the world that Evolution had conquered WWE. It had folks comparing them even more to the gold-laden Four Horsemen.
It was a thrilling culmination of their rise and an image that is still fresh some 11 years later. So often it was Evolution's inner conflict that created memories, but it's biggest moment came when it was most united.