I have never seen anymore more disrespected when returning to the WWE than Dave Batista. I blame the new fans who thought it was more fun to mock Batista than respect him. More so, I blame the WWE for botching one of the easiest returns in years.
You knew it wasn’t going to be good when the WWE accidentally leaked his return in house show radio ads. The mistake came well before anyone had any clue that big Dave was coming back, radio ads plugged Batista. In my 30 plus years as a wrestling fan I can’t ever recall the WWE making such a dumb mistake.
Now that the air was out of the balloon, the WWE had to do something. Instead of waiting for Batista to come out as a big surprise, they advertised his return well before they were likely planning to do so. News immediately leaked of the booking plans for Batista and well before he even stepped in the ring, he was public enemy #1 by a vocal minority of fans.
Unfortunately timing wasn’t on anyone’s side here. The Daniel Bryan Yes movement was spreading and the casual audience grew restless of waiting. The Bryan fans are the ones reading newsletters and following wrestling media sites so once they learned Batista was taking their boy’s spot, the movement was on.
The difference between those fans and those fans who wanted to see Jeff Hardy, Edge, and Chris Jericho pushed over Batista during his earlier runs is the environment. Fans are encouraged to “have fun” at shows, with commentators encouraging this type of behavior. In the past you’d hear some Boo-tista chants and nothing was acknowledged. In 2014 the fans are accustomed to taking over the show.
Batista walked into a minefield. By no fault of his own, he was booked in the unenviable spot of being the company’s choice over the fan’s choice. Batista was a Daniel Bryan himself but this was just business for big Dave. This is how they’d always done things and while he may not have never had 100% fan support, he was always able to withstand the storm. What he didn’t count on is a different business, a different fan base, and a creative team so out of touch with their fans, that they completely misread the landscape.
Batista deserved better. He deserved better by those obnoxious, disrespectful fans but more so, he deserved better by the company. This wasn’t just some muscle head that was shoved down the fans’ throats. This is a guy that tore down the house many times against the likes of Triple H, Edge, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, and yes even John Cena. This was a guy that put over many stars over the years. This was a guy that gave fans something different on his way out a few years earlier. This was a guy that had at minimum earned the benefit of the doubt. Instead he was treated like he was Kevin Nash.
Batista is reportedly taking off for awhile, some even speculating that he may be gone permanently. Quite frankly I wouldn’t blame him for one second if he never stepped back into a WWE ring. The fans that ridiculed him don’t deserve him and the WWE definitely doesn’t deserve him. The next time Vince McMahon complains that he needs more stars on his roster, I hope someone reminds him of the one he may have drove away forever.
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