Over the past month, the fans have made one thing abundantly clear to WWE: They aren’t on board with Dave Batista as a top babyface.
At the Royal Rumble, the reception to his victory was embarrassing and downright disastrous. While some could claim it was the absence of Daniel Bryan from the battle royal that caused the unhappy reaction, that’s ignoring the fact that the Pittsburgh crowd was actively cheering the heel Roman Reigns on when it looked like he was on the verge of eliminating “The Animal.”
(As WrestlingInc noted, Batista was seemingly so unnerved by the massively negative response to him he even took to mocking the fans after the show went off the air.)
His reactions since have also been lackluster. Whether he’s confronting Randy Orton or destroying Alberto Del Rio, the WWE Universe just doesn’t seem to be warming up to him.
Granted, the booking isn’t exceptional—putting him in a feud with the dull Del Rio wasn’t exactly the best idea the booking team has ever had—but he could easily overcome that if he were likable or dynamic enough to the fans. He’s not.
With this in mind, a heel turn is one solution to the star’s problems. Maybe the only one.
Frankly, the company can’t continue to ignore these mediocre reactions; it has to act soon before the 45-year-old’s main event potential is squandered for good.
(The thought of a lengthy Randy Orton-Batista singles bout at WrestleMania XXX in front of an unsympathetic and restless sold-out New Orleans crowd is also a frightening thought.)
Besides, can anyone disagree that Batista is far better off as a heel?
With his gaudy clothes, arrogant mannerisms and natural smugness, he’s always been better suited to being a bad guy.
His terrific run as a heel in 2010 is ample evidence of this. Who can ever forget this splendid and memorable promo against John Cena? (Possibly one of the best anti-Cena promos ever cut in WWE.)
He simply has more depth in the antagonist role. Most wrestlers do, in fact.
As a face, he’s OK but is ultimately rather bland. As a heel, there are few men cooler—or more entertaining.
The release of his upcoming Marvel blockbuster movie Guardians of the Galaxy later this year also provides a great opportunity for Batista to heel it up.
He can play the snooty, above-it-all Hollywood actor who feels that he’s way too good for the lowly wrestling business. (The Rock played a similar character in 2003 with great success.)
Hopefully WWE’s writing team will act soon and give Batista the drastic character change he so desperately needs. For the sake of the company and his own career, he simply can’t keep going with this current direction.