Batista defeated Alberto Del Rio at WWE’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on Sunday night, February 23. The match came after several weeks of heat between the two men and while it’s uncertain if this feud will continue, the fact is that their first match is now in the books.
Truth be told, I don’t know if anyone really expected this scenario to unfold in the beginning. It seemed as though Batista’s return to WWE was a good idea, full of possibilities for potential storylines in the company.
Could The Animal buck The Authority and perhaps face his mentor Triple H once again? Could he feud with Brock Lesnar in a battle of the big men; The Animal versus The Beast? Or would he reignite his rivalry with John Cena?
Despite what the plan would ultimately be for him, the fact is that the last moment I personally had a good feeling about him was his first night back. Upon entering the ring on Raw, Batista got down on his knees and kissed the canvass.
It was this sign of respect that truly made me feel as though Batista would be okay. I felt that the crowd would see that and would see how appreciative he was to be back.
But I was wrong on both counts. Because, just as soon as he came back, he screwed up and he ruined it for himself. Therein lies the key to this story; Batista put himself in this position and now he only has himself to blame.
It was back on January 26 at the Royal Rumble when Batista made his return to the ring. And from the moment he hit the ramp, he was booed; jeered by the fans that wanted nothing to do with seeing him in the Rumble. Why is that? Because they wanted Daniel Bryan.
But when it became obvious that Bryan was not included in the match, things got much worse for The Animal. And by the time he delivered a very ugly spear in the middle of the ring, anyone that perhaps had been on the fence in regards to Batista made their decision.
This was a mistake. Batista shouldn’t be there.
However despite the fact that he did not look all that good in the ring, it could be that he had some rust on him. Four years away from the business could do that to anyone and perhaps Batista even had a few butterflies that night, anything is possible.
There was still plenty of time to salvage the night. And even though Batista was booed out of the building after he eliminated Roman Reigns and won the Rumble match, it still was not over yet.
All The Animal had to do was speak. Even if the moment came after the pay-per-view went off the air that would have been enough. All Batista had to do was take the mic and acknowledge the hate. It’s such an easy thing to do. It requires little to no effort and sometimes it can mean the difference between a somewhat understanding crowd and an angry mob. And it would have been so simple.
“Guys, I know this may not be the outcome you wanted. I’m obviously not Daniel Bryan. But I am his biggest fan and he definitely earned the right to be in this match. I just wanted to say that I appreciate WWE giving me this chance and I want to thank all of you for letting me perform for you. It’s an honor for me.”
Sweet, simple and straight to the point. Just a very quick 30 second promo could have gone a long way to giving Batista at chance of recovering on the night. WWE could have even run the promo the next night on Raw and then perhaps had a moment backstage between Batista and Daniel.
One handshake later and who knows? Maybe the WWE audience would have redirected their anger toward Randy Orton and The Authority, leaving Batista out of the equation.
But of course none of that happened. Instead of taking the high road, The Animal lost his cool, reportedly cursing fans on his way up the ramp at the Rumble. He flipped them off and even mocked the “yes” chant before leaving through the curtain.
While I understand that it was the heat of the moment, I also understand that there is such a thing as being in character. Why Batista chose to break that character and vent on the crowd is beyond me. It’s unprofessional, it’s immature and it’s a sign of something much bigger.
I believe that when WWE fans look at Batista, they see an arrogant and cocky Superstar whose sense of entitlement is out of control. And when he now looks back at them with disgust and disdain, it’s obvious they’re probably right. I think that they are now holding him just as responsible for Daniel not being WWE World champion as they are Triple H. I believe they hate Batista and I think it’s only going to get worse.
The Elimination Chamber event is just more proof that the crowd has firmly made their decision in regards to Batista. They didn’t care about him on that night, much like they didn’t care about him during the Royal Rumble. And even though WWE referenced Batista’s negative reaction on the February 24 edition of Raw, it seemed to make very little difference. In fact, The Animal was not apologetic, he was not humble, his message was basically what many fans already believed it to be.
I don’t care if you don’t like me, I don’t much like you either.
The point is, the move was too little too late. WWE did nothing to address this issue before and now the window for finding a remedy for the situation has likely already closed. The WWE faithful just don’t care for anything Batista has to say now. They don’t care about him.
Can anything save Batista’s comeback?
Follow Tom on Twitter @tomclarkbr
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