After 2009, the original four members of Evolution went years without encountering one another. Triple H became more of an on-air authority figure than an active competitor, Randy Orton turned babyface, Ric Flair jumped ship to TNA and Batista left the company to explore other endeavors.
At SummerSlam 2013, Triple H helped Randy Orton win the WWE Championship after he ambushed Daniel Bryan, allowing Orton to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Their alliance was established the next night on Raw as they, along with Stephanie and Vince McMahon, stood above a fallen Bryan.
As The Authority, Orton and HHH ruled Raw with an iron fist, with The Game ensuring that Orton maintained possession of the WWE Championship at any cost. In December, Orton became the first-ever undisputed WWE World Heavyweight champion.
For the first time since returning to WWE at the 2012 Slammy Awards, Ric Flair confronted Orton at Old School Raw on January 6. The two briefly discussed their days in Evolution and how Orton had since become "the face of the WWE," but before things could get physical, John Cena came down on Flair's behalf.
On the January 20 Raw, Batista made his long-awaited comeback to the company, confronting Orton and announcing his intentions to become world champion. Batista was one step closer to accomplishing that goal when he won the 2014 Royal Rumble match a mere six days later.
Batista and Orton continued to show tension in the weeks that followed, with Triple H refusing to side with either individual. The one thing they all had in common? None of them wanted to see Bryan win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
At WrestleMania 30, Bryan was successful in defeating all three former members of Evolution to capture the prestigious prize. The next night on Raw, Orton, HHH and Batista showed unity against The Shield and Bryan, who teamed up to rebel against The Authority.
After a failed attack on The Shield on the April 14 Raw, Batista and Orton came to an agreement that they wouldn't be able take out the rogue trio on their own. Thus, they recruited Triple H, with all three decimating The Shield later that night after entering to the old Evolution theme music for the first time in nearly a decade.
Flair looked to rejoin his former stablemates on the April 28 Raw but instead endorsed The Shield. Evolution may be down to only three members, but they are still as powerful and every bit as intimating as they were 10 years ago.
Although they came up short against The Shield at Extreme Rules, the new and improved Evolution will look to prove themselves as the most dominant faction in modern WWE history at Payback when they clash in a No Holds Barred Elimination match.
With all the success they've garnered in the last year-and-a-half, could The Shield be on the verge of surpassing Evolution as the greatest faction of the new millennium? If the Hounds of Justice can defeat the three former world champions at Payback, they very well could be.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.