The SmarK Rant for RUTHLESS AGGRESSION Season 1, Episode 3
Oh hey we’ve gone two episodes without putting over HHH. Better change that.
Brian Gewirtz pops up again to talk about how “The HHH character has seen some shit” and changed over the years. Bruce Prichard points out that HHH was the top guy and top dog and Ric Flair of the company in 2002, as we show a clip at Wrestlemania X-8 where HHH is celebrating with the Undisputed title while the crowd empties out.
Meanwhile, Ric Flair had a great WCW run in the 90s that “ended not so great”. And then he went to the WWF and was clearly struggling to be great again, just a guy playing Ric Flair. Present day Flair talks about how he didn’t think he could pull it off anymore, and we get backstage footage of him at the time, trying to psych himself up and dealing with anxiety issues. So HHH started hanging out with him and made it a personal mission to get Ric’s mojo back.
The plan: Remake the Four Horsemen, with HHH as Flair and Flair as Ole, and then bring in the young gun and the enforcer. Vince pushed back because he hates factions. This leads to the introduction of Randy Orton, who injures his shoulder during a match with Christian and he was thinking he might be done. But then we get the RNN News Updates, as he stayed on TV and turned himself heel while updating the crowds on his injury status. That was some pretty great stuff (“My shoulder sling has been chafing me, but doctors applied some antibacterial ointment and got it under control”) and it’s the kind of thing they don’t do anymore. Now when you’re injured, you don’t exist for months at a time.
Next up, Dave Batista gets told to go buy a suit and he’s like “WTF?” It was $500 and that was like $10,000 to him, and they CUT THE SLEEVES OFF it and made him into Deacon Batista. D-Von: “The gimmick didn’t go well.” Batista hated everything about it and thought it was stupid. And of course with all the people becoming huge stars and money being made, Batista was in danger of getting lost in the shuffle and losing his job! To which I say LOL. As if Vince would ever let that guy go without pushing him 18 times. Trust me, Batista was in no danger of getting lost in the shuffle.
Randy Orton returned from his injury and it was obvious he was the guy for the new group, but putting Batista in there was kind of a shock to most people. HHH points out that he was trained to be a 1970s big guy who didn’t take bumps, but Batista wanted to learn and be different. Arn Anderson was workshopping names and said they should just call them Evolution, and there you go.
HHH pulled Batista and Orton aside and warned them that everyone backstage was about to “hit the hate button” on them because they were going to push the shit out of them and people were going to resent that. Batista of course was all about the money and gladly took all the hate. HHH says his philosophy was to make people think he was an even bigger cocky prick because fuck them.
This all leads to a tag team match in Feb 2003 with the Dudleyz against Batista & Orton, where Dave blew out his triceps while pie-facing Bubba, and then Orton managed to break his ankle taking a flapjack bump. Batista recalls Bubba yelling at Randy about how he hurt his back on Orton’s broken ankle, and Bubba doesn’t SPECIFICALLY recall that conversation but admits that it might have happened. He writes it off as a “bad night at the office” and thinks the whole thing was an accident.
This leaves HHH and Flair to fend for themselves for a few weeks, but Orton returned sooner than expected, while Batista re-injured his arm while training for his return. This led to rumors of Mark Jindrak replacing Batista in the group, which was OK with Orton because they were BFFs. We get footage of Shane daring Jindrak to jump up and touch a pipe on the ceiling backstage, which was pretty cool. But they tried him out for a day, and HHH likens the experience to Orton and Jindrak playing with a Speak & Spell in the car for three hours because they wouldn’t shut up. And then we get footage of Orton and Jindrak backstage doing animal noises like a Speak & Spell! That’s awesome. Not awesome for HHH, who immediately kicked Jindrak out of the group, but Vince made them shoot vignettes anyway. But then they also filmed stuff WITHOUT him to be on the safe side. And then Vince put him in a tag team with Garrison Cade and that was the death blow. Today, Jindrak admits that HHH was right to kick him out, and he ended up having a “mediocre run” in WWE. That’s kind of insulting to actual mediocre talents.
We move onto July 2003 as Batista returns to TV with the group to reboot the concept, and we skip ahead to Armageddon with the group winning all the titles in one night. So everyone is doing great and Flair is back to being himself again. Orton came up with the Legend Killer gimmick and that obviously was a huge help in his career.
Off to 2004 and Wrestlemania XX, as the Rock N Sock Connection reunite to face Orton, Batista & Flair. I hear HHH might have also competed on that show, but I don’t remember what he was doing. But apparently Evolution continued dominating through the year. This all leads to Summerslam, where Randy Orton won the World title from some guy who is shown for literally 0.5 seconds and never mentioned by name. And then he beats the same guy the next night in a rematch, and Evolution turns on him to kick off the disaster of a babyface run.
Gewirtz got the call while standing in a vitamin shop, and he notes that him being there was about as natural as Orton being a babyface champion. Ha! Jim Cornette further buries the turn, noting that Orton isn’t a natural face because he hates the fans and people can tell. Everyone agrees that Orton wasn’t ready and he immediately became a monster who let it go to his head. The documentary admits that the title reign was a complete disaster and they had to pull the plug a month later. This, by the way, is also funny in retrospect because the company was SOOOOOO butt-hurt by fans bitching about Orton’s babyface run at the time and kept pushing back against the backlash before finally giving in and turning him again.
This leads to Batista getting the next shot at the top, which led to arguments between HHH and Vince because Hunter wanted the slow build and Vince wanted to pull the trigger RIGHT NOW. Batista wins the 2005 Royal Rumble and we get a great storyline where HHH hires someone to pretend to be JBL going after Dave, but then blabs the details backstage where Dave can hear it. That was tremendous, and set up the famous contract signing where Batista chooses to challenge for HHH’s title by giving the thumbs down and then powerbombing HHH through the table. And this time, it WORKED.
Meanwhile, Orton has a match with Undertaker at Wrestlemania which is OK but then he went off to be injured again for a while. Dave of course did much better.
And that’s where we wrap it up, as everyone gives final comments and we’re out.
Much better than the Cena episode, as everyone was honest and there was a minimum of “Everything was great forever” narrative. I really enjoyed this one and it’s worth a watch!