Batista to Return to WWE Programming in January

Tim KeeneyContributor IDecember 23, 2013

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 15:  Batista poses in the ring during WWE Smackdown at Acer Arena on June 15, 2008 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images)
Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

The Animal is back. Almost. 

News was leaked over the weekend that Batista was going to make his highly anticipated return to the WWE, but on Monday night, the company made it official with a set date and a special promo during Raw

Take a look:

It's time to get excited. 

Before leaving the WWE in 2010, the 6'6", 290-pound beast spent nearly a decade with the company. Over that time, he won the 2005 Royal Rumble, had four reigns as the World Heavyweight champion (including one that lasted a record 282 days) and had two reigns as the WWE champion to go along with several other accomplishments. 

As this WWE fan noted, Batista's return, which comes six days before the 2014 Royal Rumble, should only make the Road to WrestleMania even more attractive:

NXT's Mojo Rawley also expressed his excitement:

Now that we have an official date for The Animal's return, the speculation can begin. One of the major questions is whether he'll come back as a face or a heel. 

As you'll remember, Batista's final stint as a heel was tremendous. He brings with him a certain edge that is reminiscent of the Attitude Era. 

Back in 2011, he talked about that and gave his thoughts on John Cena in an interview on The Chad Dukes Wrestling Show:

I think, you know, they did the whole PG direction thing, I think that works for Cena; the little kids love him, cause he’s a great character, he’s someone they can look up to. The girls love him,  good looking guy, says all the right things, does all the right things, but the hardcore fans can’t stand him. He is Mr. Hokey, Mr. PG… to me; he killed hardcore, edgy wrestling.

I was playing the part of the heel, but they were still booing the hell out of Cena. I really had to go that extra step to be a heel against this guy.

It will be compelling to see if the WWE lets him continue where he left off as the bad guy, or if the company uses the pops he will almost assuredly get to turn him into a face.

Moreover, who will he take on upon his return? And is the WWE going to give the world Batista vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania?

The questions are endless. 

No matter the answers, though, this development gives the company some much-needed momentum and will undoubtedly build anticipation heading into the new year.