Batista is coming back? My initial reaction was of vast indifference. In fact, it seemed most of the fans online were indifferent as well. Batista was for me a wrestler who did a serviceable job and left after a fairly enjoyable eight year run.
But once I looked back at his career, I noticed he was involved in some of the more enjoyable moments in the first decade of the 21st Century. He was a pretty loved performer by a majority of fans and was involved in some fantastic feuds as well. My opinion started to change to one of hopeful optimism. With so many quality opponents for him to work with, I am hopeful for a successful second WWE run.
As opposed to a long career retrospective on Batista, I wanted to look at some of my favorite moments/matches of Batista first run in the WWE. Here are a few of my favorite Batista things:
He Came a Long Way Since a Deacon
I still love to call him Deacon Batista. The first time I ever saw a WWE show was an August 2002 Smackdown show in Seattle. It was the show were the Deacon turned on Reverend D-Von. You could tell Batista was sick of that role.
Batista got off to a very rough start to his career. He started in that terrible enforcer role, but hit the jackpot of being put into Evolution. His bad luck continued however when he got injured and missed most of 2003. It was a bad first eighteen months to his career.
One of my favorite Batista moments was the event that clearly was his coming out party, Armageddon 2003. He wrestled in two matches at this pay-per-view. His first was, arguably, the best match of the night, with Shawn Michaels. Despite the fact he lost the twelve-minute match, he more then held his own with the legend but Batista wasn’t done. Later that night he won his first title, the World Tag Team Championship, with Ric Flair in a solide Tag Team Turmoil match. Wrestling Shawn Michaels in a quality match and winning your first title? I think that qualifies as a big moment in Batista’s career.
The WWE invested a lot into making Batista and Randy Orton into stars. One of the best moments in this build and in Batista’s early career was WrestleMania XX. Flair, Batista and Orton spent many months bullying Mick Foley. I remember being at a Raw when Batista drove Foley through a table. We wanted Batista and Orton to get their comeuppance for their disrespect. It was now time to throw in another legend.
I was quite excited to see The Rock come back to reform Rock N’ Sock Connection. Clearly at Madison Square Garden the two fan favorites would do the traditional WrestleMania thing and beat the cocky young heels? This time the wise decision was made not to do so.
WrestleMania XX was a very long show and this match is constantly overlooked in many fans minds. It is a very fun match with Foley playing the “face in peril” but when The Rock enters, he runs into a successful power game by Batista. Thanks to some patented Flair distractions, Evolution is able to win the match over the very popular tag team. Batista has, in the course of a few months, had highly rated matches with three WWE Legends. The WWE was putting faith in him and he was rewarding them by getting over in his opportunities.
The Great Slow Build: Triple H vs. Batista
This is the best Batista moment by far. I can’t say I am a massive Triple H fan but he certainly created a star with this feud. The key was the slow build. Batista was slowly built as a challenger to Triple H. At first it started with him not approving of Evolution tactics such as intimidating Jim Ross and Stacy Keiber. It grew as Triple H verbally assaulted him but despite fan support Batista stayed loyal to Triple H and Ric Flair. At New Year’s Revolution 2005, the crowd screamed for Batista to turn on Triple H. Instead, he helped him to win. The slow build was in perfect effect and it was far more successful then if they rushed Batista first face turn.
At Royal Rumble 2005, Triple H pleaded for Batista to not be in the Royal Rumble. It was cowardly Triple H at his finest. When Batista won the Rumble, Triple H created a wonderful scheme to “save” Batista from a limo that looked like JBL’s (then WWE Champion). Triple H schemes were impressive and built Batista successfully into one of the most popular faces in the company. But the moment that defined Batista was the “thumbs down”.
At the only interesting contract signing in WWE history, Batista gave the “thumbs up” to Flair and Triple seemingly assuring them he was going to face JBL at WrestleMania 21. Then he slowly switched his to a “thumbs down” and the crowd gave one of the loudest pops in a long time. As Batista slammed Triple H through a table, the slow build had worked. Batista was a major star and would go on win the title at WrestleMania 21. The match wasn’t the most impressive but the build was and made Batista a star for years to come.
His Best Match: Undertaker vs. Batista WrestleMania 23
This was the match that really sold me on Batista. It started with Batista showing respect to Undertaker after Taker’s Royal Rumble win but started to fall apart in the weeks leading into WrestleMania 23. It culminated with their match at WrestleMania 23, which was in the middle of the card. Why it was I have no idea. It was the start of Undertaker likely always having the best match on each WrestleMania card.
The crowd was really into the fifteen-minute match, as Batista seemed a legitimate threat to win the match. Please watch this impressive back and forth match again, it is one of the highlights of this card. Batista hits a solid power slam through the announce table. After a series of reversals in the ring, Batista hit a Batista Bomb and went for the cover. Undertaker kicked out and the crowd went wild. I think it was one of the first times the fans believed Undertaker might actually lose at WrestleMania. He did not and went on the win the World Heavyweight Championship but not before having a classic match with Batista. Batista showed again he could be on the biggest stage and put on an impressive match with one of the true legends.
The Whiny Heel
Some of Batista’s best work was his last work in 2009-2010. He became heel by attacking his frequent tag team partner, Rey Mysterio. Because nothing says I am a heel like attacking Rey Mysterio. After a few months of bullying, he became quite opportunistic helping Vince McMahon in his feud against Bret Hart. This led to him winning the WWE title from John Cena after an Elimination Chamber match. They had a series of matches at WrestleMania, Extreme Rules and Over the Limit that was a pretty entertaining series of matches for these two competitors. But I will best remember Batista for his final night on Raw. He was whining about Cena and was going to sue the WWE. When GM Bret Hart wouldn’t give him an automatic rematch, he quit the WWE. It was the “whiny heel” at its finest and a good way for Batista to leave the WWE.
The more I looked back at Batista’s career, the more I was impressed. He certainly should get some credit for some quality feuds in his short career. I didn’t even include some real quality work with Eddie Guerrero, Edge and JBL. He is a guy perceived as a monster that can actually go under the right circumstances. Here is hoping he is in quality shape to help the WWE get off to a solid start in 2014.
Oh and his theme song is awesome.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, I have my Twitter account, WWELasher as well. I would love to hear your thoughts about Batista’s best moments. I look forward to writing for all of you in 2014!