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Jan. 2: RRR Year-End Awards
Batista to Return to WWE on Jan. 20
It has been more than three years since Batista was last seen in a WWE ring, but that drought will officially come to an end on Jan. 20. There had been a great deal of speculation regarding Batista's potential return after the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas advertised him for a Feb. 16 show. Rather than carrying on the charade, WWE decided to come clean by making the announcement official on the Dec. 23 edition of Raw.
Who will Batista face at WrestleMania XXX?
No matter how you feel about Batista, there is no doubt that this is a major coup on WWE's part. Most figured that Batista would come back eventually, but he has had absolutely nothing to do with the company since leaving to explore other endeavors such as a career in MMA and movies. WWE was finally able to strike a deal with the six-time world champion, though. The nature of his contract is unknown at this time, but it's pretty safe to assume that it involves a match at WrestleMania XXX at the very least.
Batista's return coincides with the go-home edition of Raw prior to the Royal Rumble. That would seem to suggest that Batista will enter himself into the Rumble match. Some believe that Batista will win the Rumble, but Batista is so established that doing something like that would be totally unnecessary. It's far more likely that Batista will have a run-in with someone in the Rumble match, which would then start the build toward his 'Mania match.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Since Batista has been gone for so long, it is pretty much guaranteed that he'll return as a face initially. It would be very easy for the creative team to change that at the drop of a hat, though. Having Batista side with Triple H and The Authority would be the most logical way to make a heel turn happen.
If that does happen, then two potential opponents that were discussed on the show are CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. Batista hasn't feuded with either of them, and they are both capable of carrying Batista in a match. Also, they have had their issues with The Authority, so facing a hired gun in the form of Batista would make a ton of sense.
Failing that, Batista could take on someone closer to his size such as Brock Lesnar or Sheamus. While both Lesnar and Sheamus are big men, they also happen to be excellent in-ring workers, so they could pull off a great match with Batista if need be. Should Batista remain face, then Lesnar is definitely an option, as is someone like current WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton.
No matter what the writers decide to do with Batista, his mere presence adds a great deal of excitement and star power to the product.
Potential Details Surrounding Batista's Return (WrestlingInc.com via PWInsider Elite)
Big E Langston Making Waves
There admittedly hasn't been much storyline advancement in WWE over the past week due to the holiday season, but the programming has still been entertaining and relevant for a few reasons. Chief among them is the development of Intercontinental champion Big E Langston. Big E has gained a great deal of traction with the fans since capturing the title, and the creative team is doing everything in its power to help him reach the next level.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is the IC Title Important Again?
As great as it is to see a rising star like Big E Langston getting some recognition by teaming with the likes of John Cena and CM Punk, most fans seem to be even more interested in the title around his waist. It is no secret that the IC title has been devalued significantly over the past several years, and many will probably argue that the World Heavyweight Championship is the biggest culprit. The Intercontinental Championship used to be viewed as a stepping stone en route to the WWE Championship, but the World title assumed that role somewhere along the way.
Now that the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships have been unified, though, the Intercontinental Championship is once again the main midcard title. Some might argue that the presence of the United States Championship will prevent the IC title from truly becoming important again, but it isn't outside the realm of possibility that those two titles could become unified at some point in the future as well.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
No matter how you slice it, both Big E and the IC title are moving up in the world. The creative team isn't willing to put just anyone alongside Cena and Punk, so it's clear that there are big plans for Langston. Not only is Langston helped by being put in main event situations but so is the Intercontinental Championship. Stars like Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Orton held the IC title before becoming some of the biggest stars the business has ever seen, and that is why the Intercontinental Championship is so beloved by fans.
In turn, Langston will become beloved if he is able to restore its past luster. What the title truly needs, though, is a red-hot feud involving it.
Langston is currently in a buddy-buddy situation with Mark Henry, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Henry turn on Langston in the near future since Henry is far superior as a heel. Going over Henry at WrestleMania would be huge for Langston and the IC strap.
Also, keep in mind that WWE seemed to tease a future rivalry between Langston and Roman Reigns. If The Shield breaks up, culminating in a Triple Threat match for the United States Championship at WrestleMania, perhaps a huge unification match between Langston and Reigns is in the cards down the line.
WWE Teasing IC and U.S. Title Unification (WrestlingInc.com)
Magnus Wins TNA World Heavyweight Championship
With the status of TNA World Heavyweight champion A.J. Styles seemingly up in the air, a new champion was crowned on the Dec. 19 edition of Impact. Magnus and Jeff Hardy met in the finals of the title tournament in an ill-fated Dixieland match. At the end of the night, Dixie Carter, Rockstar Spud and Ethan Carter III helped Magnus win the title for the first time in his young career.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is This the Right Move for TNA?
It has been proven time and time again that TNA isn't a company that can compete directly with WWE. Because of that, trying to go head-to-head with WWE by using WWE retreads has never been a great idea. TNA needs to either build its own stars or help indy stars reach the next level. By putting the title around Magnus' waist, TNA is clearly hopeful that it has discovered the next big star in the business, but it remains to be seen if that is truly the case.
Magnus has potential since he's only 27 years of age, but he has done nothing to suggest that he is ready to compete at a main event level. His in-ring work is decent, but it certainly isn't anything spectacular. His mic work also needs a lot of work based on how he performed on Dec. 19. Magnus delivered a promo regarding Hardy to open that show, and the crowd couldn't have been quieter. You literally could have heard a pin drop as Magnus received no reaction whatsoever.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
It's going to be very difficult for Magnus to be the top heel in the company if the fans don't care about him. Aligning himself with Dixie could help, but he'll receive cheap heat rather than authentic heat if that is the case.
That will inevitably set him up to fail, especially since Dixie's character is flimsy at best. TNA shouldn't necessarily be blamed for trying to build its own top-level guy since it has failed to do so in the past for the most part, but Magnus isn't that guy.
Although he was already a star in his own right by the time he joined TNA, Austin Aries would have been a far better option to take the title. He could have turned heel and aligned with Dixie, but he could have made it work. The fans care about Aries, and he is more than capable of handling himself on the mic unlike Dixie. Aries has a CM Punk quality about him, and he should be an unquestioned main eventer in TNA, but he has been mishandled badly since dropping the TNA World Heavyweight Championship to Hardy at Bound for Glory 2012.
TNA is committed to Magnus, so it will be interesting to see how he progresses, but he was far from the best option.
RRR Season 4 Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Brandon Galvin: 85
2. Mike Chiari: 82.5
3. Donald Wood: -30
4. Michael Cahill: -135
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