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   December 18, 2014



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Will Batista’s WWE return be a boon or a bust?
By MATTHEW BYER - SLAM! Wrestling


Batista at Extreme Rules in June 2009. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea

By now many World Wrestling Entertainment fans have heard about the impending return of former four-time World Heavyweight Champion and two-time WWE Champion Dave Batista. Since the announcement leaked there has been a great deal of speculation about how Batista will be used by the company particularly at Wrestlemania XXX.

For the WWE bringing Batista back in 2014 is particularly fortuitous because as year the winds on more and more promotions for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy film will be popping up and Batista has a prominent role in the movie as the character Drax the Destroyer. While the movie version of Drax will likely differ from the Marvel Comics one -- in the comics Drax and his family are killed by Thanos and Drax is resurrected by Thanos' ancestor Kronos to stop him -- the company will likely keep many of the character's same meaty pathos and just redirect them at another target, which according to the press release will be Ronan the Accuser.

So for the WWE having Batista back will bring some additional media attention and possibly result in some people who haven't ever followed professional wrestling, or watched in a long time, into the fold. However, all of the aforementioned doesn't guarantee that Batista's return will be a success or help to spike the television ratings or the pay-per-view buys. Instead, what will determine success will be how Batista is booked by the company.

As many are aware WWE programming for the last several months has not been very compelling in large part because of the scuttling of Daniel Bryan's push in the main event WWE World Heavyweight title picture. Despite the organic build of Bryan's popularity, the company has continually refused to allow Bryan to have anything other than a fleeting victory before snatching it away from him. Instead they have pushed Bryan seemingly into the middle of the card where he is currently feuding with The Wyatt Family.

There is little doubt that a large reason why this fate has befallen Bryan is his smaller stature, so being that Batista is a much larger wrestler that would seem to bode well for his return. Add to that his seemingly close bond with Triple H from their days together in Evolution and it would seem a successful return will be a fait accompli. Yet, the situation with Bryan, and the fact that the fans still loudly support him despite how he's been booked by the company, should give the WWE management some pause when it comes to Batista.


If the approach for the initial booking of Batista is to have him use his size and strength to crush his opponents, the fans may turn on him, especially if either of those opponents are Daniel Bryan or CM Punk. The fans have seen the work and effort by both Bryan and Punk and respect each enormously, so there is little doubt that there would be a backlash if either were to be used in squash matches in order to get over Batista. Instead if there are to be any matches involving either one they should be given time to breathe and build; and allow Batista the chance to show some of the skills he learned from Triple H and Ric Flair when he was part of Evolution. When it comes to potential matches of Batista versus Punk or Bryan, the smartest thing would be to have Batista win the match using a submission hold instead of his patented Batista Bomb. Doing so would show a growth and diversity in the ring and would set him up for his logical opponent at Wrestlemania XXX: Brock Lesnar.

In a lot of ways Batista was Lesnar's successor in WWE and both men have similar size and strength. However, Lesnar so far has demonstrated a progression in his wrestling ability due to his time in the Ultimate Fighting Championship which has led to him using a larger number of submission maneuvers in the ring. For such a matchup to work, Batista will need to show a greater depth to his wrestling repertoire prior to it taking place. There is a high probability for that to happen due to the fact that Batista also competed in mixed martial arts and undoubtedly learned additional grappling holds during that time.

However, if there isn't that greater depth shown, a match involving Batista versus Lesnar might not be credible in the eyes of the fans and they could turn on both of the wrestlers as happened at Wrestlemania XX when Lesnar faced Bill Goldberg. While the source of the fans ire at that time was different -- word had leaked that both wrestlers were leaving the company shortly after Wrestlemania XX -- it doesn't mean that the situation doesn't have to be handled carefully. Since Lesnar returned to the WWE in April 2012, he has put on one stellar match after another and there will be a lot of demand for another spectacular performance.

So for that to happen it is imperative that Batista raise his performance through not just strength and power, but skill because if he is able to do so he and Lesnar will be able to create a match that fans will be talking about for years in a positive way instead of a negative one.

RELATED LINKS

  • Batista bio and story archive
  • Previous Mat Matters Editorial columns

    Matthew would like to wish everyone all the best in 2014. Be sure to check out Matthew's first fictional novel Finding My Way Through Life's Follies along with a free preview here and also Matthew's first collection of poetry Mustard Marinade Poetry along with a free preview here.