wrestling / TV Reports

411’s WWE Ruthless Aggression (Episode 3) Report: ‘Evolution’

February 24, 2020 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Batista Triple H Evolution WWE Smackdown 101618

-Original air date: 02/24/20
-Run Time: 1:05:27

-Welcome to episode 3 of the WWE’s Ruthless Aggression series. The first two episodes have been solid but then again I am always a sucker for shows like this. Last time was all about Cena and judging from the title it’s time to draw a line in the sand. Let’s get to it!

-We start with the Evolution reunion on SmackDown a few years back that teased the Dave/HHH match at Mania. Rappaport talks about the group and how they were set for greatness, but behind the scenes the group was nearly derailed by injruries and immaturity. This is the story of the greatest faction of the Ruthless Aggression Era.

-Show opening.

-Naturally we start with HHH because he was the focus of the group. They talk about HHH being around since 1995 and being part of the Kliq and then DX. By 2001 he was in his prime and Prichard says he was one of the top guys in the business, if not The top guy. HHH beats Jericho at Mania X-8 for the Undisputed Title and Prichard says he was their Ric Flair of that time.

-HHH talks about being drawn to Ric Flair as a kid. We get classic Flair promos which are always a wonderful addition to any series. They talk about the end of Flair’s run in WCW and how it wasn’t great. He came to the WWE in 2002 and staggered back and forth between in and out of ring talent. Flair says in his own words that he was lost at that time. HHH says that Ric was only playing Ric Flair. He could play the role when the camera came on, but outside of that he was like a beaten dog. Flair talks about his lack of confidence and he may have had some bumps and bruises, but it was all mental. Wrestling was something he could do blind folded, but now he was scared to go through the curtain. He started having anxiety attacks while wrestling. He started doing things that were beneath him and HHH felt he was a shell of what he was. He wanted to help him and get him back to what he used to be.

-They started to form a friendship and HHH says he grew to love Ric as a person. As he started to get to know him, he realized he needed to get Ric out of his funk and back to the performer he could be. The best way he could think to get Flair back was to be out there with him. He basically became Flair’s hype man, and that is where he started to get the idea of a group like the Horsemen. Gerwitz says HHH is an old school guy and HHH wanted a group that was different than DX. The idea was for HHH to anchor the group while Flair was the mentor. Then they needed the heir apparent and the muscle behind the group.

-He mentioned the idea to Ric and he was very interested. They started picking each others brains about what guys they liked. Vince isn’t a fan of factions so it took come convincing and HHH told Vince he would make the two other guys Main Event stars.

-By April 2002 there were a ton of young guys making an impact in the WWE. We see Randy Orton show up in a backstage segment with Vince and Stacy Keibler. Orton then makes his debut on SmackDown in a match with Bob Holly. Orton says he was in OVW for 18 months and got the call from JR that he was coming up to the main roster. He eventually went from SmackDown to RAW and was getting a push, but his shoulder popped out during a match with Christian. He thought everything was lost.

-A few weeks after the surgery they started doing RNN updates and they were fantastic. Randy says it was supposed to be a babyface type deal, but the Montreal crowd shit all over him in epic fashion. They immediately knew this was a better reaction and turned him into the cocky, irritating heel. Orton was such a great douchebag in these RNN updates. Gerwitz puts over the way Randy delivered the lines while Randy says looking back they were cheesy and horrible, but worked.

-Batista next as he was trying to get his career out of first gear. He was called up and told to buy a suit. He spent $500 on the suit which was a lot to him at the time. The cut the sleeves off and put a giant box around his neck. He was Deacon Batista and followed around Reverend D-Von. The idea was Batista was going to sit ringside and learn how to work while watching D-Von. Batista says he hated the gimmick and thought it was the dumbest thing he ever saw. He loved working with D-Von though. He put pressure on himself and wasn’t becoming the guy they wanted him to be. He was getting lost in the mix of a star studded WWE roster with youth and experienced veterans.

-Orton was back from his shoulder injury and he was seen as one of the top prospects. Orton was one of the guys HHH and Flair had in mind for their group. HHH says Orton had every tool you could think of to be a star in the business. Bischoff says that Orton had that charisma where you knew, that he knew he was going to be a star. Flair says Orton reminds him of himself when he was 23. They knew Randy was the guy, but the shocking one was Dave being the other one.

-HHH says people questioned why Dave was in the group. He says that Dave was trained as a giant monster from the 1970s instead of a wrestler. He calls Dave a sponge and that he was hungry and wanted it. I guess we aren’t going to discuss Jindrak being the 4th guy in this one? Batista says he and Randy were giddy about being paired up with 2 of the biggest stars of all time.

-With the pieces in place the group was ready to be unveiled and needed a name. HHH and Arn Anderson were talking and were stuck for a name. There had never been a group like this and for Arn it was like another step on the Evolutionary chain and perhaps they should just call the group Evolution. We get the promo were the group comes together on RAW and gets the name Evolution coined. It’s crazy the only guy in the that promo still with hair on his head is Ric Flair. Just some epic hair back then!

-HHH pulled Dave and Randy aside and told them they were about to get hate from everyone in the back. They would all tell them to their face it was great they were getting that spot, but would bury them behind their back. He made them tell him if they were willing to deal with that and if they weren’t, he would pick someone else. Dave sums it up well, “do you want to make friends or money?” Dave and Randy both talk about the resentment they felt and it was worse than they thought it would be.

-HHH says that his philosophy was that if they were angry, he would give them even more to be angry about. Dave says the guys that didn’t like him were assholes anyway. HHH told them that as of today they were stars and needed to act like it. Man has a point because if you are in that spot, you better act like it.

-They had a tag match on RAW and HHH says it was bad. Orton and Dave forgot everything they needed and it was a train wreck. HHH bitched them out backstage and told them it was done and they were never going to be that bad again. Next they had a match against The Dudley Boyz to test them and Bubba ran in and pushed Dave in the face. Dave pushed back and blew out a tricep. He tagged out and then Orton came in for a flapjack spot and it shattered his ankle. Bubba says the three of them made a mistake in that moment.

-HHH laughs talking about the confusion as he was told that Orton was hurt and then saw Dave hurt and then realized they both were injured. Dave says Bubba was pissed and yelled at Orton for injuring his back. Dave thinks Bubba was irritated with them to begin with and says that Bubba was always a dick to both of them. Damn! Bubba says he moved passed it thinking it was a bad night at the office and they just didn’t gel.

-HHH says they were just young, green guys and he felt bad for them. Batista says it was horrible and he was always afraid for his job. Gerwitz says it was a gut blow as they put a lot behind the group and only a month in, half of the group was injured.

-Orton returns and that created a sense of urgency in Batista. He started training before his triceps was healed and he ended up tearing it back off the bone. He had another surgery and that set him back a few more months. We are now in mid 2003 with Ruthless Aggression in full force with young stars. To keep pace there was the thought of replacing Dave with Mark Jindark. Huh, I thought that was before the formation of the group. Jindrak says he and Orton were boys behind the scenes. Orton says they rode together and puts over Jindrak as a crazy, good athlete. They show video of Jindrak jumping up and reaching a pipe that was over 12 feet off the ground to pop the boys in the back. HHH didn’t think Mark took things seriously. He had Orton and Mark ride with him in the car for a few hours and says it was like riding with 3rd graders. They had a See n Say and were goofing around with the animal noises. They show video of them backstage goofing around, and HHH asks Ric if he did things like that riding around with Harley. They quickly learned that Jindrak and Orton couldn’t ever be together again in a car.

-They filmed their first vignette and told everyone to bring a black suit. HHH wanted to tell Jindrak that he wasn’t in, but Vince felt he fit in the group. They filmed the footage with Mark and then filmed it again without Mark. Orton was wondering if Mark knew what was happening as it showed they weren’t sure yet. We get to RAW at MSG and Vince lets Jindrak know that he isn’t going to be part of the group and would be in a team with Cade. Orton says it was tough as that was his best friend in the business at the time. Jindrak thinks HHH had the final decision and he says he was probably right and made the right call. Jindrak says it is tough as it could have been a top spot and he ended up having a mediocre run.

-They waited for Batista to come back and his return sees him mow down Goldberg to pay off the bounty HHH put on him. Orton feels they did the right thing as Batista was the right man which is easy to see now. The group was finally back at full strength as get to the end of 2003.

-Armageddon 2003 sees Orton win the IC Title, Flair and Batista win the World Tag Titles, and HHH win back the World Title. HHH says that night was the stamp for the group that it was going to work. Batista says it felt right for all of them to hold titles and laughs that it looked cool as hell. They were the anti-heroes as the fans loved them. Adam Cole says he and his friends all wanted to be Evolution.

-Evolution was now at the top of the WWE food chain and we get highlights of them running through the roster on RAW. HHH was the man and Flair was back to being himself as he was in a familiar environment. Batista says he was floating around on a cloud at that point but was able to come into his own. Orton started his legend killer gimmick and it gave him an edge. He has the feud with Foley and Orton says that is where his career really took off.

-WrestleMania XX: My guess is we don’t cover what happened to HHH that night. Instead we get the handicap match with Foley/Rock vs Evolution. They include part of Rock’s awesome coked up promo before the match. Rock felt coming back for this match was a big deal and that flattered Mick. Batista calls the match electric and it was crazy to him to be in the ring with The Rock. Prichard puts over Rock’s decision to be part of that match and show and how it elevated everyone. Orton gets the win for his team with the RKO on Foley.

-After Mania Evolution continued to role and the question started about who was the top dog in the faction. We get to SummerSlam and Orton wins the World Title from Benoit which is actually shown. He isn’t mentioned of course, but they show Orton finishing him with the RKO to win the World Title. That leads to Orton getting turfed from the group the following night. Great execution of it as it added to the story of the eventual HHH/Batista feud as well.

-Gerwitz remembers getting the call about the turn and he thought it wasn’t the right time. Orton being a babyface champion wasn’t the right fit. Cornette says Orton isn’t a natural babyface because he is a prick and doesn’t like being around people and fans can see it. We see footage of Orton being a dick to fans and it’s kind of funny. Orton was left on his own as the youngest champion in the WWE and he admits he wasn’t ready. He returned to his immature ways. Henry, Batista and others talk about how he wasn’t ready and it went to his head. Gerwitz calls Orton a glorious prick and outstanding son of a bitch. We get video of Orton filming the Royal Rumble 2005 commercial and Orton didn’t want to be there. HHH told Orton he had everything to be the next big thing and he was blowing and he wasn’t sure why.

-HHH ends Orton’s reign a month after it started and Gerwitz says the moment was supposed to set up thousands of Orton/HHH matches until the end of time and it sucked. It didn’t work out that way and they needed to move to the next thing: Batista who got organically over with the crowd and they did the slow burn on that feed. Vince wanted to pull the trigger sooner as he saw the crowd buying into Big Dave. HHH felt it needed a slow burn and stretched out to WrestleMania. HHH was the smart one as he wanted to get the fans begging for Dave to punch him in the face. It’s amazing how they butchered the coronation of one guy and got the other one so right.

-Batista wins the Royal Rumble and HHH does whatever he can to convince Dave to challenge JBL on SmackDown. Batista proves to be a smart face unlike others booked in that spot. Dave overhears HHH’s plan and everyone knows what is coming except Ric and HHH and that’s what made it awesome. The crowd was begging for this turn and it was fantastic as they called back to the thumbs down and HHH eats a powerbomb through a table. Just great stuff! HHH and Flair’s selling of the thumbs down is priceless. A star was born that night!

-WrestleMania 21: Orton gets to face Taker during the middle of his streak run. Gerwitz says the company still had faith in Orton and wanted to see him in that spot. The chokeslam into the RKO is still fantastic. Gerwitz believes that was a turning point for Orton as he proved himself and got what they wanted him to do. The show ends with Batista being crowned World Champion in a middling match. It was weird in that they crowned both Cena and Batista that night in kind of throw away matches. The two combinations would get much better matches later with the JBL/Cena I Quite war and HHH/Batista’s classic Hell in a Cell match. Batista says he broke down after the match and probably cried about it for 3 days. He says HHH made him a star single handily and that is why Batista came back as he always wanted to pay HHH back at Mania.

-We wrap up with a summary of everything the group went through. In the end Evolution changed the legacy of all 4 men. Orton and Dave talk about how important it was for them to be in that spot and how it molded them into becoming top stars. HHH credit the group for helping him with his self confidence issues. HHH says you can argue about who benefited the most from the group and case can be made for each of them. It was the rare group where everyone came out looking so much better.

-I enjoyed this more so much more than the previous two episodes. Probably because other than hearing the Jindrak story, we don’t get hear much about the group. They were all pretty honest about things here and no history seemed to be distorted in any major way. This was a lot of fun and it was also great to hear from Jindrak as you kind of feel for the guy, but was the correct decision in the end. As mentioned the group was beneficial for everyone involved and it did create 2 major stars for the WWE that they banked on for years. Next week part 4 which I know there is one on Brock due soon, but not sure if that’s next week or the following. As always thanks for reading!