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I was watching the Network yesterday, browsing around for something to distract me from making the dinner, and I chose to put on the 'Day Of: Royal Rumble 2014' documentary, which followed the returning Batista as he prepares for his return to the ring at the now infamous show where Daniel Bryan did not join the match. As I see Big Dave, by then confirmed to be joining the Marvel universe and embarking on an ever more successful Hollywood career, show severe anxiety about his gear, his ability to still 'go' and how the crowd will react to him, it just continued to affirm my appreciation for 'The Animal'.

During the week, it took me by surprise to discover through this video that OOC of OSW Review really hates Batista, blaming him for not getting the same level of heat that Cena got post-WM21 and saying he 'can't wrestle and can't talk'. Now, I love OSW to the point that they are the only thing I've ever paid to a Patreon for; but man, he couldn't be more wrong.

Starting in 2007, he had a great feud with Undertaker that was far better than anyone could've expected. At the time, people were falling over themselves to laud Cena vs. HBK as a great match, but given the choice I'll take Big Dave vs. Undertaker from the same show any time. Fifteen minutes of, as Big E might put it, big meaty men slapping meat. There was a massive long-term storyline between Shawn and Chris Jericho following WM24, but it's often forgotten how good Batista's involvement within that time period was; with particular props to him yelling 'HEY SHAWN, I DON'T LOVE YOU AND I'M NOT SORRY!' while battering him in a Stretcher Match at One Night Stand.

The pièce de résistance, naturally, is his fantastic heel run from 2009 to 2010. Battering Rey Mysterio, back when that still mattered. The glasses. The flat cap. The leather waistcoat. Beating John Cena after an Elimination Chamber, which led to their feud through WrestleMania and culminated in the excellent heels-on-wheels quitting promo he cut on Raw. Everything about it is fantastic.

Despite the general perception, I still really enjoy his two returns because of just how engaging he is. Sure, 2014 didn't go the way it was planned as mentioned above (seems pertinent after last night) but his charisma carried him through to the inevitable heel turn, allowing him to display his best (plus, Bluetista). Even his 2017 one is good, if only for 'GIVE ME WHAT I WANT!' and the nose ring. Plus, he'd said for many years that all he wanted to do was have one more match with Triple H at WrestleMania, and sure enough, that's just what he did. Yet whenever you see him interviewed about wrestling, he cites how his greatest enjoyment was putting people over and paying back favours. His talking heads on various documentaries show his deep appreciation for the business, and he always come across well.

Anyway; after all of this, with a month or two until he's inducted into the HOF - thoughts on 'The Animal'?

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Guardians of the Galaxy was coming out that summer. Hence a Wrestlemania run before he had to do a press tour

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Love Big Dave. He stood out in a "this guy won't go anywhere but he's great fun" way as the Deacon for Reverend D-Von, but then actually did go somewhere looking cool as fuck amongst Evolution.

 

Then, he's part of one of the greatest slow-build storylines of the 21st century as the fans slowly cotton on to the fact he wants Triple H's title. That leads to his big moment at WrestleMania 21 (and a couple of good follow-up matches) that cemented him, for me, as one of the two faces of the decade alongside Cena. I know Cena was the bigger name but Dave never felt 'lesser' than him, and for a while there it felt like WWE was actually moving forward and had made not one, but two, big stars for the next phase of the company. People were genuinely sad when he had to vacate the belt.

Then you get, over the next few years, a show-stealing match with Undertaker at WrestleMania 23 (arguably the first time the Streak match at a Mania had that aura of 'this is a great match!' that'd carry with Taker up to and including the Punk one at 29) and a less-remembered but still very fun one with Cena at WrestleMania 26. 

THEN, you get Heel Batista, who showed depths of character, comedy and charisma we hadn't seen before, and possibly the greatest fashion style of any main eventer ever.

Then he goes off and becomes a legit movie star, to the point that a lot of people who've never watched a second of wrestling could tell you who Dave Bautista was. He's an actual Marvel superhero! A Bond villain! The man was a Replicant for goodness sake.

He comes back in 2014 and dey don't know what they've got. Yes, he probably shouldn't have won the Rumble but we still got those Shield six-mans out of it. 

And finally, you get the 2017 run, which he absolutely didn't need to do but chose to because he wanted to do more wrestling, which is nice, especially when you had those horrible nose ring spots in the match itself. Don't do this for the sake of wrestling, Dave, you're better than this now!

He did a signing at HMV in Newcastle once, which I queued up for several hours for. They gave you an empty WWE sticker book for him to sign. He was a friendly guy to everyone.

To conclude, Batista is great. Anyone who disagrees can walk alone in their own pit of danger and fall in.

Edited by HarmonicGenerator
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He wasn’t brilliant during his first run, but he was never outright awful either, and it was a shame that it all started to really click once he’d made the decision to leave the first time.

I still can’t help but feel that announcing him as returning 2 weeks out and then and putting him on TV on the go home RAW before the Rumble really hindered him. Imagine the pop had he come out as a surprise entrant that year, before returns/surprise entrants had become an expectation.
But, that was the penultimate PPV before the launch of the network so they were obviously hoping his return would generate some PPV buys, a tough ask after doing just under 500K buys the year before with The Rock v CM Punk in the main event.

Edited by WyattSheepMask
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Always likes Big Dave. Came in looking like the next tyson Tomko and then just slow burned his way to the top. Imagine if they hadn’t done that tease with him and HHH that kicked off his main even run, we would have missed some cracking moments. Knew his limitations, played to his strengths and didn’t mind showing arse when in against smaller guys. I remember how properly gutted he was when Eddie passed, their little team/feud with Eddie trying to play games and Batista being the guy who sees through bullshit from his time with HHH showed a lotta promise. 

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Batista's one of the few self-aware, absolutely doesn't need WWE megastars that you can count on one hand which automatically gets him into my Hall of Fame. 

Guy just wanted to work house shows after getting a taste of the modern WWE creative system in 2014:

Quote

“I would do it in a heartbeat and I don’t want big money. I don’t want a limited schedule. If they would allow me to go back and just do house shows I’d be all over it. Because then you just skip all of the red tape and you don’t have to deal with creative, the writers and all that bullshit. You just go back and do your thing, and my thing is wrestling. Ring, wrestlers, audience. That’s all I want.”

Yeah, the man. 

Also, it's mainly the contract signing segment that comes up in these threads but my heart still jumps at the reveal here:

When it's good...

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There's probably only one match that would have even a slight chance of tempting me back to WWE right now, and that would be Batista vs. The Rock in a Hollywood Blockbuster match. But, from everything I'm reading on here, seems like the film studios (real film studios, not WWE films) would still do a much better job of that.

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I remember there was an amazing moment during an interview with Observer Radio where they asked Dave about the preposterous outfits he wore during that great heel run. Completely dead pan he responded that they were just his real life, day to day clothes. They quickly changed the subject.

I’ve got all the time in the world for Big Dave. One of their last true superstars, massively overachieved throughout every run he had, left on his own terms, succeeded outside of WWE and everything he puts out on social media and in interviews suggests he’s sound as fuck. Similar to Rock, but without becoming a parody of himself. Stopping short of being the human equivalent of those shitty inspirational quotes people you went to school with post on Facebook.

Also - something no-one ever talks about. I love Cena as much as anyone, but for as much as everyone used to always attribute the booing he’d receive to modern day fans, it was quite telling that Batista became a big star simultaneous to Cena and yet always got the desired response. Apart from when he got You’re Not Daniel Bryan’d in 2014, he always adored as a babyface and hated as a heel. Lad had it all. It’s a shame he’s too busy making that Marvel money because he’s exactly the type of guy I’d want doing guest coaching at the Performance Center. Even if it’s just fashion tips.

Edited by Supremo
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8 minutes ago, Supremo said:

massively overachieved throughout every run he had, left on his own terms

I think that's one of the main reasons I love the guy so much. It didn't feel like he was the chosen one. I get it, it's all fake and they're all chosen etc etc, but with him he had such a super shitty gimmick to start with that really didn't present him as anyone that was going anywhere. It always felt like a natural progression with fans getting into him, coupled with decent subtle booking along the way which is a rarity these days. And yeah, nowadays where we know even more about him as a person, he's even more likeable which is the completely opposite of what usually happens because most wrestlers are cunts.

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9 hours ago, Hannibal Scorch said:

Guardians of the Galaxy was coming out that summer. Hence a Wrestlemania run before he had to do a press tour

I still maintain that Batista being roundly rejected during that run was a serious case of bad timing - yes he was up against the amount of fan support Daniel Bryan was getting, and growing resentment against "part-timers" largely as a result of CM Punk banging on about it, but if it had somehow been timed a little better around Guardians Of The Galaxy, he'd have been a massive babyface had the run happened after the movie rather than before it.

The greatest moment of that run was someone - maybe Ambrose? - calling Batista a "skinny jeans sellout" and Triple H trying to calm him down by saying "it's okay Dave, you've just got big legs".

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I do absolutely love Big Dave but he was pretty rubbish during that return. Not only had he clearly lost a bit of weight but he seemed to have given up on the tanning, which was unforgivable. He seemed well rusty in the ring for a chunk of it too. It did work out though because 'Mania 30 is up there with the very best shows they've put on. Plus, we got a great Evolution return out of it.

Just a shame we got his heel run just as he was coming to the end. Although going by what Big Dave has said, the fact it was the end meant he felt he could do whatever he wanted and wasn't arsed with Vince moaning.

Edited by ColinBollocks
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