Two of the major takeaways from which were The Viper reminding the Rated-R Superstar of how he became the youngest ever World Heavyweight Champion in WWE at the age of 24, and how the Ultimate Opportunist is a hypocrite for his disparaging comments regarding Orton joining Evolution.
The Viper spoke about how he was handed an opportunity, but the Viper would discuss how he bit the hand off when offered said opportunity and became the one Superstar in WWE with "true grit" in the locker room due to his longevity.
While the promo was absolutely outstanding, it wasn't just an incredible advert for their Last Man Standing Match at WrestleMania, but also a great snippet of what can be watched on the WWE Network, not least the recent Ruthless Aggression series!
So, let's divulge slightly further into that trip down memory lane, and particularly the rise, dominance, and demise of Evolution!
Oddly, the story can be traced back to a Randy Orton injury two years before his incredible feat, where The Viper actually thought his career may be over just a few weeks after moving from RAW to SmackDown.
"I went from SmackDown to Raw and I was about to get going. My shoulder popped out in a match against Christian. Then I’m thinking ‘this is it’. I’m 22, or whatever I was, and I’m thinking my career is over. All this hard work, all this potential, and it’s gone.”
Despite Orton’s injury, WWE found a way to keep him on TV, via RNN - Randy News Network.
"A couple weeks after my surgery, and I started doing the RNN updates. I came out with my arm in a sling to inform the world that I was going to be okay. It was supposed to have a babyface type feel to it, and that Montreal crowd s**t all over me. And it was great. Everybody right away was like, 'We got something here'."
And that final line from Orton may have been the understatement of the century. Orton's switch from babyface to the cocky young kid was complete - and the injured Superstar had printed his name onto Triple H's wishlist for the soon-to-be-formed faction.
"And as it got closer to being a reality, it became about the people we wanted to form this group. And it was very clear Randy was one of them. Randy had every tool in the world."
Triple H knew that with success comes jealousy, and The Game would pull Orton and Batista to a side and warn them that the success would come, but that they were about to "hit the hate button" in their careers, and that they risked being buried by everyone else in the locker room. The Game recalled his exact words on the Network special.
"You’re gonna sit next to me and Ric, and every single person in this room, they’re gonna tell you, ‘This is a great opportunity, they’ve given you all this stuff. If you mess up they’re going to bury you. They’re going to b***h, complain. Everybody you thought was your friend, you’re gonna find out they’re not your friends."
Triple H would then go on to say he made the pair decide on the spot whether they wanted to be a part of Evolution, but if they had any concerns, he'd simply pick someone else. Batista recalled that Triple H's exact words were, "Do you want to make friends, or do you want to make money? If you want to make money, jump in this car."
Well, the pair most definitely made the right choice, as they became two WWE legends - not least thanks to a historic night at Armageddon in 2003, when every member would leave the arena holding gold, and Triple H revealed that was the stamp of approval.
“That night, the night where everyone has a Title around their waist, storyline-wise or not, it’s that stamp of ‘this is gonna work’.”
Batista added, "It felt right for us to have all the titles. And it looked cool as hell.”
The faction, then, had established that they were both a cohesive unit, and four individual stars, but that mercurial balance can only last so long. Randy Orton's historic WWE Heavyweight Championship win at SummerSlam 2004 would be the start of some cracks forming.
"At 24 , I became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion and I don’t think I was ready. I was young, and I didn’t know what it was to be Champion. It got thrust upon me and I had a lot of learning on the job.”
Orton wasn't the only person who said he wasn't ready, as Batista, Mark Henry, and even The Game would say the reign was destined to fail from the get-go.
“We talked and I said ‘Randy, you have every gift imaginable to be the biggest star this business has ever seen, and the only one that can stop you is you, and you are hellbent on doing it and I don’t know why’.”
The one-month reign would result in Orton losing everything. After being kicked out of Evolution unceremoniously following their disapproval at him being Champion, The Viper would soon lose the title to Triple H, and it wouldn't be going very far with Batista becoming next in line after winning the 2005 Royal Rumble. Evolution had started to dissolve, bit by bit.
The cracks would widen, Triple H and Batista would lock horns after months of rumbling beneath the surface - which erupted at WrestleMania 21 with the WWE Heavyweight Championship on the line, and Batista thanked Triple H for "making him me a star" at that moment.
"He made me a star. Single-handedly, he just…I just don’t know what I would have done without that dude. I mean, he made me who I was.”
Meanwhile, The Game would reveal that the group's implosion and demise was for the greater good, as it helped create two of the most legendary Superstars to ever set foot in the squared circle.
“The intent is we start this group, we let it run for as long as we possible can, and then you hope that Dave becomes a star, Randy becomes a star, and as the group implodes upon itself, and getting them to be bona fide WrestleMania main event stars and you know, it worked.”
You can watch Ruthless Aggression exclusively on the WWE Network FOR FREE. WWE Network is currently offering a free period to watch every past WrestleMania, NXT/NXT UK TakeOver, recent episodes of Raw/SmackDown and more. Go to https://www.wwe.com/wwenetwork for more information.
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