The de-Evolution of Orton
On Aug. 16, 2004, as suggested in their signature Mot"rhead anthem, Evolution drew a line in the sand … at the expense of newly crowned World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton.
Following a severe bruising at the hands of Triple H, Ric Flair and Batista, the biggest 24 hours in the career of WWE's youngest-ever World Champion became WWE.com's No. 8 Hardest Hitting Betrayal in history.
Years before the "Age of Orton" first dawned, the Legend Killer rode into SummerSlam 2004 solo and -- without any assistance from his cohorts -- found himself the proud bearer of the much-coveted World Heavyweight Title. Though he seemed to have the support of Evolution in this critical championship match and the supposed blessing of The Game, the next night on Raw told a much different tale.
On pay-per-view, the Legend Killer actually birthed a brand-new legend in himself, and he solidified his conquest with a successful title defense on Monday Night Raw. After personally involving themselves in the contest, Evolution immediately engulfed the winded champion, distributing congratulatory hugs and high-fives.
But deception lay beneath the manufactured grins of The Cerebral Assassin, Flair and Batista. After a half-year spent alongside sports-entertainment's past, present and future, Orton was hoisted high by The Animal in celebration, with the World Heavyweight gold gleaming under the hot arena lights. While the champion glowed atop his soon-to-be former ally, the group's chief constituent, Triple H, suddenly inverted a sign of encouragement -- a thumbs-up -- into a signal to terminate Orton's Evolution membership.
The Animal dropped Orton, allowing the three Superstars to mercilessly dismantle him. After connecting the World Heavyweight Title with the champion's forehead, Triple H slapped Orton around, barked in his crimson-smeared face and landed a mat-denting Pedigree.
Though the attack itself sent a clear enough message, The Cerebral Assassin then picked up the gold -- the apparent source of The Game's acrimony and subsequent treachery -- and bellowed, "This … is … Evolutionnnnn!"
A victim of the same type of attack he'd waged upon so many others for months, the Legend Killer's final moments as a card-carrying Evolutionary were painfully memorable, ranking among the foulest betrayals ever.