CHICAGO — By dishonorable means, WWE Champion Randy Orton escaped The Animal's maw with the title still in his possession at Judgment Day, but "The Viper" and Batista's aggression ultimately met its Evolution on pay-per-view with the unexpected return of WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair. (PHOTOS)
At Judgment Day, The Animal demonstrated his fervent desire to exact revenge for The Legend Killer's skull punt in late 2008 and add the WWE Championship to his World Title accolades. Just a fraction of the wounds endured in his collision course with the Legacy leader, Batista's brow bore eight stitches that nearly split with his radiating intensity.
The two Superstars clashed, culminating months of enmity with an inconclusive result as Orton struck the referee to get himself disqualified -- a calculated play that would cause him to lose the match yet retain the gold. Instants later, The Viper's loyal disciples, Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes, slithered in and attacked with heavy rancor. When it appeared as if Batista might not repel the 3-on-1 mugging, an unexpected "Wooo!" resounded in the Allstate Arena as the legendary Ric Flair arrived and reverse knife-edged the triumvirate away from their prey. After a righteous, emphatic Batista Bomb to the WWE Champion, The Animal embraced his Hall of Fame friend and stood triumphant yet gold scorned.
Prior to their bout, nostalgic feelings of ill will simmered in the bellies of both the WWE Champion and the suitable challenger. Barb-trading commenced with a highly anticipated contest between The Legend Killer and The Animal, who spent most of his recent days jousting in a game of momentum with his prime rival, Orton, and his Legacy.
After weeks of both Orton and Batista recollecting their earliest WWE days as Evolution cohorts, the dominant faction's namesake and legend was certainly in the zeitgeist of the WWE Universe. Perhaps this was enough to draw out the "Nature Boy" -- Evolution's former mentor figure -- who made his return in the Windy City to aid the outnumbered Animal.
Though Batista did not acquire the WWE Championship from his enemy, he did gain an ally in a one-man war with numbers drastically skewed against his favor … until now. How will this rivalry evolve now with the Nature Boy's astounding homecoming?
Will the Hall of Famer's reemergence secure the same success enjoyed by The Animal when he was once under Flair's tutelage? Or will the legend of Evolution be the next one killed by The Viper's bite?