Dave Batista has ruffled some feathers in the oft-sensitive WWE locker room before even setting foot in it. Such is the glory of social media, where Batista parlayed an online beef with Alberto Del Rio into an indictment of this generation of WWE Superstars.
After a back-and-forth that quickly escalated from kayfabe to uncomfortable, Batista delivered a kill shot on Twitter (via SEScoops), tweeting "Seems 2 me that some C level stars in a B level star era have bought into their own hype. Don’t turn a work into a shoot. #realitycheck.”
The tweet was later deleted, so you know he meant it.
The ceremonial "heat on Batista" reports figure to feed into an environment where Batista will experience tension backstage amongst his current and former peers. Batista will have to be his own best friend while surrounded by a sea of fresh enemies.
Sounds like he's ready for the Royal Rumble.
Batista has become the runaway favorite in a once-wide-open field. With both the WWE World Heavyweight title picture and the Royal Rumble picture taking shape ahead of the January 26 pay-per-view, the returning Animal will be the front-runner.
Batista is scheduled to return on January 20 for the go-home show of the Royal Rumble. He'll still have that new-car smell by the time he enters the fray just six days later.
WWE seemed to out-think itself two years prior in a similar situation during Chris Jericho's return in 2012. The major star came back ahead of the Rumble and seemed to be a shoo-in.
David Shoemaker of Grantland.com described "[In 2012], Chris Jericho seemed like the favorite to win the Rumble, and WWE pulled Sheamus out of nowhere to get the win."
According to F4WOnline (via SEScoops), WWE reportedly changed its mind from Chris Jericho, as Sheamus shockingly was the last man standing.
A win for Jericho would have meant a WWE championship match against CM Punk at WrestleMania XXVIII, which happened anyway through a series of momentum-killing hurdles.
If there are plans in place for Batista to challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight championship, hopefully WWE will keep it simple by booking him to win the Royal Rumble.
Using Jericho as a case study, if the returning Batista is eliminated in his first match back, he will be damaged. Subjected to fighting an uphill battle throughout his tenure, it would be difficult to recover.
At the very least, Batista will be made to look strong at the Rumble as part of his reintroduction, either through a high elimination total, a long stay or both.
While nothing is ever certain in WWE, Batista is as close to a sure thing to win the 2014 Rumble as it gets. WWE needs a spectacle of a main event for WrestleMania XXX. After almost four years away from professional wrestling, Batista can be one-half of that spectacle.