First of all, what is the purpose of a stable in the wrestling industry?
That's a pertinent and varied question with no one answer. But, in short, the ideal scenario for all people involved is that they come out stronger and prosper.
In some instances, they change the industry forever. Take the Four Horsemen for example; in 1985, NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair, United States Champion Tully Blanchard, and National Tag Team Champions Arn and Ole Anderson formed an alliance, with Arn soon comparing the group to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - and the group was born.
The industry had never seen such a powerful collective reign supreme and if Ric Flair wasn't transcending the business enough in his own right, the group took on his goals and demeanour to become the epitome of cool. They wanted to be the best and enjoy the fruit of their labours - it was glorious.
Then you had the NWO. Three of the biggest names in the industry at the time fuelled by the first-ever heel turn of, arguably, the biggest name ever, coming together to wreak havoc in WCW. Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. It pushed TV ratings to all-time record highs for the wrestling business and truly ignited the Monday Night Wars. It was beautiful.
Both of those groups would outstay their welcome and become diluted versions of themselves in the years that followed. D-Generation X, however, managed to get stronger after Shawn Michaels took a four-year hiatus from in-ring competition and the group saw the rise of Triple H to world title material.
Any ensemble featuring three men or more qualify and there are many candidates. The Shield, The Bullet Club, The Corporation, Nation of Domination, The Dangerous Alliance and even the New Day can boast lasting legacies, but Evolution is better than all of them.
Bold statement, right? Allow me to explain how this group is everything fundamentally brilliant about the wrestling business.
In late 2002, the legendary 16-time world champion Ric Flair began 'managing' then-World Heavyweight champion Triple H and accompanying him to the ring. Simultaneously, Batista left his Deacon Batista gimmick - where he served as an enforcer for D'Von Dudley's stint as a preacher - behind on SmackDown and Flair also took a shining to the big man.
The Nature Boy began giving Batista advice and accompanying him to his matches - often squash matches at that point - on top of Triple H, though The Game and The Animal were in no way aligned at the time.
Randy Orton had made a fine debut in the summer of 2002 on SmackDown, but upon being drafted to Raw in September of that same year, the third-generation star would suffer a shoulder injury that kept prodigy on the shelf for close to five months.
In January 2003, all four men attacked Scott Steiner to officially kick off Evolution but just a few weeks later, Batista would suffer a torn triceps and spend eight months out of the ring himself.
Despite all of the stop-starts, the group would not be denied. Batista returned to answer the $100,000 bounty that Triple H had placed on Goldberg's head and Evolution began to run riot over Raw.
From there, the mechanics of the group unfolded perfectly. Flair was the mentor of the group, passing down his wealth of knowledge after 30 years in the business and a record number of world title reigns.
Triple H was the current cream of the crop and, arguably, the best wrestler in the world at that time. He was a true main event player and the present day 'superstar'.
Orton and Batista were the young phenoms being groomed to become mega-stars. They were different; Orton was a silky-smooth in-ring performer who was up to his eyeballs in charisma while Batista was an athletic big man with the type of intensity and presence you see once in a blue moon.
While they had the attributes of stars, they were booked like them, too. Orton would become one of the greatest Intercontinental champions of the modern-era with a 210-day reign that kicked off at Armageddon 2003.
Ric Flair and Batista also won the World tag team titles that night, too, while Triple H defeated Kane and Goldberg to win the World Heavyweight Championship meaning Evolution had all of the gold.
It was the right cocktail of talents at the right time, but, more importantly, it was executed perfectly. Flair helped groom the group and the stable as a whole helped protect Triple H's spot as the top guy in the industry. However, in 2004, Orton outgrew the spot of protege and won the world title from Chris Benoit and that causes HHH to banish him from the group.
A year later, Batista won the Royal Rumble and after being sick of doing The Game's dirty work, he too rebelled and challenged Triple H for his world title at WrestleMania 21, thus ending Evolution's reign.
Still, they achieved their goals better than any stable before them. Triple H was the superstar he was billed as and remains a focal point of the company to this day. He's being groomed to take over from Vince McMahon when that dreaded day comes and some could say he has even eclipsed Flair's contributions to the business.
Of course, the Nature Boy remains a legend and is beloved by wrestling fans everywhere. The main job was building Orton and Batista; 14 years on, the pair have won 17 world titles between them, four Royal Rumbles and headlined multiple WrestleManias, including together alongside Daniel Bryan in 2014.
The groups very name is what is accomplished, what greater sign of success is there than that? It gave the company main eventers for the next decade they never would have had otherwise. It put them on a completely different level.
My closing argument to why Evolution was the best wrestling collective ever lies in their reunion in 2014. What did Triple H, Batista and Orton do when they got back together? They had incredible matches with The Shield and put them over every time.
Which three men are bona fide main eventers for the WWE now?
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