After nearly four years away from professional wrestling, Batista finally made his return to WWE on the Jan. 20 edition of Raw amid plenty of fanfare, and there is a great deal of excitement surrounding his status moving forward.
The WWE's twitter account welcomed him:
The Brooklyn Bawler snapped a photo of Batista in the ring:
He had a stare down with Randy Orton in the ring, but nothing came of it. Batista announced his intentions of winning the Royal Rumble, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and WrestleMania XXX before dropping the mic and walking out.
WWE provided a rundown of Batista's career Royal Rumble stats:
Batista was never known as one of the greatest in-ring workers, but there is no denying his star power. "The Animal" is a six-time world champion, and his addition to the roster, even if it is only temporary, will give the creative team some flexibility heading into WrestleMania season.
Since it was announced on Dec. 23 that Batista would be returning to the fold, wrestling fans everywhere have speculated upon what Batista's role might be. Not only is it a question of whether he will be heel or face, but it also remains to be seen who he might feud with.
Most would probably agree that Batista's best work came as a heel. His popularity allowed him to become one of the top faces in the company for a period of time, however, his mic work was cookie cutter. Batista really broadened his horizons near the end of his last run with the company as a heel, and most would probably like to see that character make a return.
Not surprisingly, Batista received a huge face pop on Raw. That was to be expected considering how long he has been away from WWE, but it doesn't necessarily mean that he can't transition back to being a heel in the very near future.
Batista obviously has a long history with Triple H dating back to their time together in Evolution. They ultimately split apart and engaged in one of the best feuds in wrestling over the past decade, but professional wrestling is certainly known for providing fans with nostalgia. Putting Triple H and Batista back together and perhaps even adding Randy Orton to the mix would remind viewers of the good old days to say the least.
Considering the fact that Triple H's current chief rivals appear to be Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, either one of them would make for a great WrestleMania XXX opponent for Batista. Assuming Batista doesn't win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship between now and 'Mania, he can face whichever one of Bryan and Punk that doesn't win the Royal Rumble match.
But if WWE does decide to put the belt around Batista's waist, he would obviously take on the Rumble winner since there is no longer an option to go after either the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship.
Either feud would be a good one for Batista since both Bryan and Punk could carry him in the ring, but Punk would probably make a bit more sense. Not only would the overall mic work be better with Punk involved, but Bryan would be better served facing Triple H considering the fact that Triple H has been holding him down since SummerSlam.
If the creative team decides to go in an entirely different direction, there are still possibilities for Batista. He and a returning Brock Lesnar could potentially put on an entertaining, hard-hitting affair, and the same could be said for Sheamus.
Both of those Superstars are on the bigger side and feature a style similar to Batista's, so there would likely be plenty of in-ring chemistry between them. Whatever the case, Batista promises to be a versatile performer for the WWE who will add a great deal to the product leading up to WrestleMania.
Fans often like to complain about the roster, but the current crop of Superstars is as talented as it has been in quite some time, and the addition of Batista makes the roster even deeper.
Whether you're a fan of "The Animal" or not, there is no doubt that his return creates a great deal of intrigue as the build toward WrestleMania starts to take shape.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter