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Evolution is a professional wrestling heel stable on World Wrestling Entertainment's Raw brand. The original group consisted of Ric Flair, Randy Orton, Triple H, and Batista. Each member represented the best in: "the past" (Ric Flair), "the present" (Triple H), and "the future" (Randy Orton and Batista) of professional wrestling.
The original group dissolved in 2005. This occurred after Orton had been kicked out in 2004, due to the fact that he won the World Heavyweight Championship from Chris Benoit at SummerSlam (2004), becoming the youngest champion of that championship at the age of 24. Triple H later defeated him at Unforgiven (2004). In 2005, Batista, who had won that year's Royal Rumble, and teased that he would chase the WWE Championship, had left the group and turned on Triple H and Ric Flair to win the World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H at WrestleMania 21. Though Batista's departure was the cause of the decline of the stable, later that year, Triple H later turned on Flair, marking the final split of Evolution.
On April 14, 2014, Evolution reunited, with Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista re-forming the stable with the exception of Ric Flair.
At Unforgiven in 2002, Triple H defended the World Heavyweight Championship against Rob Van Dam. During the match Ric Flair came down to the ring and grabbed the sledgehammer from Triple H and teased hitting Triple H before hitting Van Dam, allowing Triple H to get the win. From that point on, Flair accompanied Triple H to the ring as his manager. Shortly after, Batista moved from SmackDown! to Raw and took Flair as his manager. When Triple H began his feud with Scott Steiner at the beginning of 2003, Batista and Randy Orton both assisted him along with Flair.
The group was officially founded on February 3, 2003 and called itself Evolution. The stable got off to a rocky start as both Batista and Orton were injured in matches in February 2003. On May 26 edition of Raw, Orton returned as a masked man who attacked both Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash after a 2-on-1 handicap match with Flair and Michaels taking on Triple H. He then unmasked himself and rejoined the group.
Feuds with Shawn Michaels and Goldberg (2003)
In 2003, at Bad Blood, Flair was able to defeat Shawn Michaels after Orton struck Michaels with a chair. Later that night, Triple H retained his World Heavyweight Championship in a Hell in a Cell match against Kevin Nash. At Unforgiven, Orton (who had a "Legend Killer" gimmick) defeated Michaels to prove that he was indeed a Legend Killer. Later that night, Triple H defended the World Heavyweight Championship against Goldberg. Despite help from Flair, Triple H lost the title to Goldberg.
On September 29 edition of Raw, Triple H issued a $100,000 bounty to anybody who could take out Goldberg. On October 20 edition of Raw, Batista returned from injury and rejoined Evolution by taking out Goldberg and claiming the $100,000 bounty. At Survivor Series, Orton participated in a Team Bischoff versus Team Austin elimination tag team match in which Orton was the sole survivor. Later that night, Goldberg faced Triple H in a rematch from Unforgiven for the World Heavyweight Championship which Goldberg won despite repeated interference from Flair, Orton and Batista.
At the height of Evolution's power, the group controlled all of the male-based championships of RAW after Armageddon. Batista teamed with Flair to win the World Tag Team Championship from Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley) in a Tag Team Turmoil match, Orton captured the WWE Intercontinental Championship from Rob Van Dam, and Triple H regained the World Heavyweight Championship from Goldberg (in a Triple Threat match that also involved Kane), with the help of the other members.
In January 2004 at the Royal Rumble, Ric Flair and Batista successfully defended the World Tag Team Championship against Dudley Boyz in a Tables match, and World Heavyweight Champion Triple H fought Shawn Michaels to no contest in a Last Man Standing match, thus retaining the championship. Flair and Batista exchanged the World Tag Team Championship with Booker T and Rob Van Dam. At WrestleMania XX, Evolution defeated Rock 'n' Sock Connection (The Rock and Mick Foley) in a 3-on-2 handicap match. Later that night, Triple H lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Chris Benoit (in a triple threat match that also involved Shawn Michaels) when he tapped out to the Crippler Crossface. At Backlash, Orton defended the WWE Intercontinental Championship successfully against Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) in a Hardcore match. Later that night, Flair lost to Shelton Benjamin in a one-on-one action, while Chris Benoit retained the World Heavyweight Championship in a triple threat match against Triple H and Shawn Michaels, this time forcing Michaels to submit with the Sharpshooter.
Dissent and self-destruction (2004)
While champion, Benoit teamed with Edge to take the World Tag Team Championship from Flair and Batista. In summer of 2004, Eugene was made an "honorary member" of Evolution. When the angle finished, it was revealed that Triple H used him. The angle concluded after Eugene accidentally caused Triple H's loss to Chris Benoit at Vengeance. On the same night, Edge defeated Randy Orton to end his seven-month-long Intercontinental Championship reign.
Triple H received one final shot at the World Heavyweight Championship, on the July 26, 2004 edition of Raw in an Iron Man match. Earlier that night, Randy Orton won a number-one contender battle royal for the World Heavyweight Championship and potentially a title match between Triple H and Orton could have taken place at SummerSlam, however, Eugene interfered in the Iron Man match and helped Benoit take the lead and retain the title in the final seconds, setting up a title match between Benoit and Orton at SummerSlam. At SummerSlam, Orton pinned Benoit to become the new World Heavyweight Champion and the youngest World Champion in WWE history to date. On the August 16, 2004 edition of Raw, Orton was kicked out of Evolution following a successful defense of the title against Chris Benoit. Batista hoisted Orton on to his shoulders in what appeared to be a celebration, but following the thumbs down from Triple H, the group proceeded to attack Orton.
At Unforgiven, Triple H beat Orton to regain the World Heavyweight Championship, with help from Flair, Batista and Jonathan Coachman. Orton's feud with Evolution continued until Survivor Series where Triple H, Batista, Gene Snitsky and Edge were defeated by Orton, Maven, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit in a Survivor Series match for control of RAW over the following month.
On December 6 edition of Raw, the World Heavyweight Championship was vacated when a triple threat match with Triple H, Edge and Benoit ended in a double pin (Edge tapped out to Benoit's Crippler Crossface while he had Benoit pinned to the ground), and the title was to be decided in an Elimination Chamber match at New Year's Revolution in early 2005.
In the Elimination Chamber match at New Year's Revolution, Batista, Orton, and Triple H were the last three remaining in the match. Orton eliminated Batista with an RKO and Triple H pinned Orton with Batista's help to win the title. On the following night's Raw a number-one contender's match saw Orton pin Batista to gain a title shot at the Royal Rumble. Triple H suggested that Batista not enter the Royal Rumble match, wanting the group to focus on Triple H retaining the title. Batista declined, entered the Rumble at number 28 and won. As part of the match's storyline, Orton was concussed and then pinned to have Triple H retain the title, finally ending their feud.
Triple H tried to persuade Batista to challenge for the WWE Championship rather than his title. The scheme was unsuccessful and at the contract signing ceremony, Batista turned his back on Evolution and attacked Flair and Triple H, choosing to challenge for Triple H's title at WrestleMania 21, thus quitting the faction and starting a more successful singles career. Batista defeated Triple H for the World title at WrestleMania 21, then defended and retained the title in rematches at Backlash, and Vengeance in a Hell in a Cell match.
After Vengeance, Triple H took time off, Flair turned face, and the group was dissolved. Triple H returned at the "WWE Homecoming" episode of Raw on October 3 where he was to team with Flair in a tag team match against Carlito and Chris Masters. After winning that match, Triple H betrayed Flair and attacked him with a sledgehammer thus turning heel in the process and marking the end of Evolution.
One-night-only reunions (2007–2013)
On December 10, 2007, Evolution had an in-ring reunion as faces on the Raw 15th Anniversary special episode. After Batista, Flair, and Triple H, who turned face himself in summer 2006, made their way to the ring, Orton (being the only current heel) refused to join them. He stated that if he would have to be remembered for being part of a tag-team, it would be as a member of Rated-RKO. Orton's remarks led to a six-man tag team match between Evolution and the team of Rated RKO and Umaga, which was won by Evolution.
August 18 2013 at SummerSlam 2013, Triple H came to the aid of Orton before his match against Daniel Bryan.
In 2014, after WrestleMania XXX, Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton reformed their alliance under the "Authority" name Triple H had been using since the year before. After Daniel Bryan won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Batista and Orton at the main event of WrestleMania. The next night on RAW, Batista and Orton competed with The Usos for the WWE Tag Team Championship but ended in a no contest due to both teams being counted out, afterwards Orton and Batista continued their assault on the Usos. Later that night, Batista and Orton along with Kane attacked Bryan before defending his title against Triple H. On April 14th, 2014, Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista came down to the ring to attack The Shield after their 13-man handicap match, using the name Evolution again. The Shield defeated Evolution in a six-man tag team match at Extreme Rules. A rematch was set against The Shield at the pay-per-view Payback, which was a No Holds Barred match. The Shield defeated Evolution yet again at Payback with a victory in which none of The Shield were eliminated. On the June 2nd edition of Raw, Batista quit the WWE, after his world title match request for that night was denied by Triple H.
Each of the members represented the best in "the past" (Ric Flair), "the present" (Triple H), and "the future" (Randy Orton and Batista) of professional wrestling.
Flair's character trademarks of coming out in suits and being a noted Playboy, along with his and Triple H's trademark heel ruthlessness, were traits that carried over into the entire stable, both during and for a couple of years after Evolution. While in the group each of the members had individual quirks:
- Orton, after returning from injury in May 2003, became "the Legend Killer" and humiliated and sometimes defeated numerous "legendary" wrestlers and celebrities, becoming infamous when he spat in the face of Mick Foley and later on Harley Race.
- Batista, known as "Evolution's Animal" (shortened to "The Animal"), was the silent, strong enforcer of the group. His progress as a wrestler and personality wasn't as quick as Orton's and he was mainly kept in the background until after Orton was kicked out.
- Flair, "The Nature Boy" and the "Dirtiest Player in the Game", took a managerial role and mainly focused on helping the others, though he became increasingly more active as a wrestler as the group progressed, including winning the World Tag Team titles with Batista.
- Triple H, "The Game", was the leader and the one who either possessed or pursued the World Heavyweight title at all times. He was champion when the group formed and he lost the belt to Chris Benoit, who would later be defeated by Orton. Orton's victory led to his eventual expulsion from the group.
- Finishing and signature moves
- Double Team finishing move
- Triple Team finishing move
- Signature foreign object
Championships and accomplishments
- World Wrestling Entertainment