August 11, 2008
Batista holds court in Montreal
By KENAI ANDREWS - SLAM! Wrestling
MONTREAL - Batista doesn't mince words. In conversation Saturday at a personal appearance, he talked candidly, detailing his views about his program and upcoming SummerSlam match with tag champ partner John Cena, his thoughts on being back on the RAW roster, new GM Mike Adamle, and the recent releases of several wrestlers.
The RAW superstar was in downtown Montreal on Saturday, signing autographs and promoting his Nutrabolics dietary supplement product line at the GNC store on St. Catherine Street. While slowly signing autographs for a tremendous queue of fans, SLAM! Wrestling got Batista on the record on a variety of topics, including his move to Monday nights for Raw, after years on Smackdown.
"It's still a difficult transition, you know. Like I said before, I'm leaving a lot of close relationships behind," he said to SLAM! Wrestling when asked about adjusting to being back on Monday nights.
"A lot of the guys weren't there when I was there last, so I almost feel like I'm starting over again. I have to, well, not say earn their respect, because I think they respect me, but I need to earn my place in that locker room to show I am a leader. There's a whole different leadership on RAW there than when I was there before. I was definitely a leader on Smackdown but I believe it's something you have to earn and not just expect it. So I believe I'm getting everybody's trust and they are starting to respect me as a leader in the locker room, and if they're not they'd better," he said with a laugh.
Batista confirmed that he was not entirely happy with the planning behind his current program with Cena. "It's one of those things where, personally I like the long, drawn-out storylines," he said echoing similar comments made back in June to SLAM! Wrestling. "The buildups to big matches where Triple H and I are the perfect example. We had such a buildup for our match. Cena and I being in such a marquee match, I really wish the buildup had been allowed. I think a match like that deserves the fan's emotional investment. It's way too soon. It's just an attraction match and I think it's more valuable than that, I think it's been wasted a little bit. It will still be a hell of a match, I just wish some more emotional investment put into the match. Right now, I feel it's more of an attraction, something that's new and fresh.
"I think people will see that Cena and I are very competitive," he continued. "We came up around the same time, we've kind of been neck and neck. I think it's also hard, it's putting the fans in an awkward situation as they're almost forced to choose between two fan favorites. I think of him being more of a fan favorite, while myself, I lean towards more heelish tendencies. They're so hot and cold with Cena. One minute they're cheering him and the next minute they're booing him. Who knows?" he shrugged.
He is still shocked to be a tag champion and figures it simply makes the match more interesting. "I didn't see that coming in a million years. It just makes the match at SummerSlam more awkward," he said between autographs. "It was awkward to begin with, it just makes it even more awkward." Batista also mentioned that he suggested the Cena program be saved for Wrestlemania, but the idea was apparently nixed.
"I like working with John; I think he's a hell of an entertainer, very intense, more athletic and a lot better of a wrestler than people give him credit for. I think we're going to tear the house down, " he predicted. "He has good chemistry. I think he's one of those guys who can compliment me and I can compliment him as well as open up a brawler style. He's just very good and a lot more entertaining than I am. He'll make up for what I lack and I'll make up for what he lacks. I think the fans are definitely going to want to see it."
Many thought he would be matched up with Kane instead. "Yeah, definitely. These are very odd times right now," he laughed. "It was just an odd transaction with the rosters being switched up. I think it left a lot of people wandering such as myself. I thought it was kind of odd to be going in with Cena after Kane really screwed me out of the World Heavyweight Title. I think there was a little bit of fear that there might not be that public interest in it. But everywhere we went, every non-televised event we worked on, people were definitely into it. Kane is an incredible performer and we definitely have some magic together in the ring."
He was caught off-guard by the news of the recent releases of several wrestlers. "You hate to see anybody lose their jobs. Shannon Moore is a real hard worker, so is Domino. Nick Patrick left as well? I didn't know that; as far as I know he left a while ago, he had a really bad back. It's just one of those things where they don't have anything for those guys and they leave a lot of guys sitting on the sidelines so they free them up so they can pursue other things. The cool thing about the WWE is that you're always welcome back. He was on such a roll before he left and he got really sick. I think we have yet to see the best of the Big Daddy V character come into its own. For a man of his size, he is incredibly athletic."
When Big Daddy V's performance in the February No Way Out pay-per-view elimination chamber match was pointed out, Batista broke out a huge smile. "Let me tell you, personally that is one match that I am so proud of. For one, I was with Smackdown at the time, and I really believe in my heart we had the better match (in the pay-per-view as opposed to RAW) and I think we had less to work with. They thought our match would be less exciting because we had the bigger men, we had Khali, we had Big Daddy V, guys that they felt would be a handicap. We tore the house down. I think by far we had the better match and I think it's really because we went back to storytelling. I believe wrestling is storytelling. We told an awesome story. We weren't so concerned about the big, high-flying stunts that come along with those kind of matches. I'm very proud of that match and I'm sad to see Big Daddy V go and Shannon. I thought Shannon was a great guy. I wasn‘t as close with Domino, but Shannon I‘ve known for years. He‘s such a good dude and I hate to see him not with us anymore."
Naturally, the topic turned to Khali's title match with Triple H and Batista once again did not mince words about the challenger's progress in the ring. "I think he's gotten worse. I don't think he's progressed at all. I think he's regressed," he said laughing.
"Let's say personally, I really like him. Nothing I will say on record I haven't said to Khali to his face. I don't think he ever deserved the World Heavyweight Championship. I don't think he's very much of an athlete. But I think the company sees something in him, I have to go with their choices. I just don't think he has a place in our business, and I don't think he's very good."
Finally, Batista had some supportive words for actor Freddie Prinze Jr., who was recently hired by the WWE as a writer. "I'm pretty old, so I remember his dad and I remember watching his dad in Chico and the Man. First thing I told him when I met him was that -- 'Man, I'm a fan of your dad's.' It was very odd seeing him walk around backstage, being one of the writers. He's a really good guy. I don't know what he's capable of as far as writing. I imagine he's got to be pretty talented since he got the job in the first place. But it's very odd to see a guy who's really a major superstar walking around backstage, following Vince around like all the other writers. He's a real cool guy and we're happy to have him."