After breaking up nearly a decade ago, Evolution—Randy Orton, Dave Batista and Triple H—have reformed to take on The Shield. According to the storyline, the two teams are now set to clash on May 4 at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view.
Granted, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins are on a roll right now as rebellious, anti-authority babyfaces. Is there a cooler or more exciting act in wrestling right now?
But Evolution? Eh, not so much.
While it may initially have sounded like an intriguing prospect—in the early 2000s, Evolution were one of the biggest and most dominant heel stables around—after a few weeks it might be safe to say this reunion isn’t quite living up to the hype.
For one thing, there’s no Ric Flair this time around.
Considering Flair’s tumultuous personal life and history of erratic behavior, this is a perfectly understandable move on WWE’s part. Management may have decided the legend probably can’t handle the spotlight right now.
However, it also means that Evolution are sorely lacking the spark and personality that Flair brought to the group.
With him, they were a cocky, arrogant heel stable who lived for partying and enjoying the high life in the same way as the Flair-led stable, The Four Horsemen, in the '1980s. Surrounded by fancy cars and a bevy of stunningly beautiful women, early-'00s Evolution had a real—if not terribly original—identity.
Without the two-time Hall of Famer, though, they’re little more than bland, one-dimensional, corporate stooges. The act has been stripped of everything that made it compelling in the first place.
Another problem is that Batista and Orton’s characters have suffered so much over the past few months that it’s difficult to see them as equals alongside Triple H.
Indeed, it often seems like the two are simply some jobber tag team Hunter has recruited to carry out his bidding.
Moreover, Batista or Orton don't seem wholly comfortable in their roles as henchmen for hire. Back in 2003, the two looked like they were having the time of their lives alongside Flair and Triple H. This time around, they just look visibly bored.
There’s also the fact that this Evolution reunion may be short-lived.
According to a recent report from PWInsider.com, Batista is scheduled to take significant time off over after Extreme Rules. He also has a Hollywood blockbuster—Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy—to promote in August, which will likely mean even more time away.
Considering Batista’s frosty reception from the fans since returning in January, would it be that surprising if the 45-year-old decides it’s simply not worth his bother anymore and leaves for good?
Of course, maybe I’m being too harsh on the reunion.
The group have only been reformed for a few weeks after all. It may be too soon to write the comeback off as a failure. There's no doubt that the Evolution vs. Shield match at the pay-per-view will be good entertainment too—everyone involved is too talented to churn out anything less than a thrilling match.
As PWInsider.com’s Mike Johnson notes, Flair is also currently scheduled to make an appearance on this Monday’s Raw—likely to interact in some manner with his former teammates.
Could the inclusion of Flair turn the act around and make them must-see television? We’ll have to wait and see.