Batista's WrestleMania XXX WWE Title Shot Will Underwhelm Fans

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Batista's WrestleMania XXX WWE Title Shot Will Underwhelm Fans
Credit: WWE.com

Batista is one of the biggest stars to have gone through WWE over the past decade, so when he won the Royal Rumble and was guaranteed a shot at the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXX, fans must have been ecstatic, right?

Wrong.

Credit: WWE.com
Who's that jumping out the sky? Who cares, it's not Daniel Bryan, let's go home.

Even before it was a finality, fans had already soured on the idea, leaving poor Rey Mysterio to take some heat from the crowd simply because he wasn't Daniel Bryan.

Since then, the reaction Batista has received has been nowhere near what WWE's goal was.

What was supposed to have been met with cheers of excitement and anticipation has turned into a jarring antithesis in comparison.

Despite being aided by a strategic cheap pop of a promo to the crowd beforehand, Batista's reaction on this week's Raw was still a rather lukewarm response.

So what can WWE do to transform this dull sigh into an enthusiastic roar from the audience?

At this point, probably nothing.

It's clear that this issue has transcended the typical argument of "the smarks of the Internet Wrestling Community vs. WWE management", which had been the case for years with names like Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder and CM Punk as opposed to wrestlers like John Cena.

Credit: WWE.com
Symbolism

When the entire crowd in multiple different markets is booming for Bryan and upset for months on end that he hasn't been positioned in the top spot of the company, there's no longer room to ignore the chants.

By doing just that and playing deaf to it, WWE brass effectively told the audience that their own opinions matter more and the WWE Universe isn't supposed to be as powerful as they often claim.

Adopting a mentality of not giving the fans what they want—but rather, giving them what WWE wants them to want and telling them that they should go along with it—is only going to further the divide.

Fans can be spiteful in many ways and although there is a certain level of suspension of disbelief, where the audience is willing to conveniently disregard past events to go along with the current storyline, most fans do in fact remember what goes on.

Forgiving and forgetting can be difficult to do, which is why some fans feel the need to chant the former names of wrestlers when they are displeased with what's in front of them.

It is a way to communicate with WWE that what they are attempting to feed us is not the meal we were craving and illustrate that they do remember and feel like their intelligence has been insulted.

To put it in childish terms, as much as WWE would like to repackage someone as Tensai and market him to the crowd as delicious ice cream, if the fans are not into it, they will chant the Albert name and try to expose it as the yucky vegetables WWE tried to sneak by.

Essentially, a tantrum is what the response boils down to. The fans didn't get what they wanted, so they lash out—which sometimes can be taken overboard, but at its base value is justified.

The same is going to apply to Batista when WrestleMania comes around.

For the next few months, WWE will try its best to ignore those responses and trudge through full steam in an attempt to convince the fans that they were wrong and this is the best course of action.

He will continue to beat up heels like Alberto Del Rio in situations that will try to be crafted to force the fans to cheer for him and not give them any leeway to do the opposite.

But unless the fans aren't given what they want in some capacity that suffices, all those efforts will be in vain.

Credit: WWE.com
Batista walks and sits alone

The audience will continue to get frustrated and take it out on Batista—the man that they were excited to see return, but not the man they chose to headline WrestleMania.

Losing CM Punk just adds more fuel to the fire as many of the supporters behind the Yes Movement were fans of him as well.

If Punk won the Royal Rumble, the response from the crowd would have been very different.

Sure, he may not have received the massive pop that Bryan would have, but Punk would have been something that the fans could get behind naturally, instead of someone that was placed before them.

Telling someone to do something often elicits antagonism, which is why Stone Cold Steve Austin and Punk were popular to begin with, as they both had characters that stood up to their bosses.

In contrast, what is Batista's character and storyline?

He's simply a former star who came back and was put in the top spot because of his former popularity, his upcoming movie role and being friends with the people that call the shots.

Why is he fighting Randy Orton? Because he's the champion.

At best, WWE can try to build this around Evolution, but if the company mantra is that the target audience is the younger crowd, focusing on a group that took place a decade ago is counterproductive.

So unless things change and some significant story development is added, this is a feud that is as standard as they can come, which is not going to turn the perception around and win back the fans.

If anything, it will just prove them right.

To make things worse, the position of this match on the WrestleMania XXX card is a situation where WWE is damned if they do and damned if they don't.

The danger of putting this match as the last one of the night is that it will fall flat.

The fans will have already seen The Undertaker and other wrestlers that they're interested in perform and will be tired.

This match is fighting an uphill battle already, so there won't be anticipation that will amp up the energy and revitalize the people in the stands.

Credit: WWE.com
And the only excited people will be Batista and the commentators

WrestleMania XXX will end with either Batista winning the championship and celebrating to a crowd that couldn't care less and is yawning, or it will end with Orton retaining and everyone thinking the whole buildup from Royal Rumble onward was a complete waste of time.

However, if WWE tries to prevent this outcome by putting the match on earlier in the evening, there are other problems that come up.

The WWE World Heavyweight Championship, despite being unified, will look as cheap as the World Heavyweight Championship before it.

That title drew criticism because it was rarely placed as being particularly important at WrestleMania and it was assumed that by merging the two championships together, it would only strengthen the value.

Shunning the top prize in the company because the match doesn't do it justice is admitting failure and the WWE Universe will realize that.

WWE has booked itself into a corner that it may not be able to get out of without taking a hit.

Batista has been able to have good matches here and there, but he was never known as a five-star classic wrestler. The same goes for Orton.

Those two can get the job done in the ring and aren't total screw-ups or anything of the sort, but neither of them are winning the same praise as people like Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle.

Batista is no Mr. Perfect and Orton is no Bret Hart, so WWE can't even fall back on the premise that the match will speak for itself and win over the crowd despite their opposition.

With no guaranteed Match of the Year candidate to look forward to and no clever or stimulating storyline to back it up, the fans have nothing to work with other than feelings of resentment for being shunned.

Turning a blind eye and all of WWE's attempts to cross their fingers and hope for the best aren't going to matter.

Unless things change, when Batista goes for his opening pyro and sets up the machine gun, it will misfire.

Instead of the Batista Bomb being met with an explosion of the crowd, it will turn out to be a dud, which is not how the biggest pay-per-view of the year deserves to go out.

 

Anthony Mango is the owner-operator of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment as well as the host of its podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.

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