It’s safe to say that Batista’s return to the WWE has been rather underwhelming.
I wouldn’t go as far as labelling it an abject failure—the Animal has certainly added some degree of value through his involvement at WrestleMania and his subsequent feud with the Shield—but very little has gone according to plan for the six-time world champion.
His mega-push after the 2014 Royal Rumble was essentially derailed by an understandably aggrieved audience, and the expected WWE title run was thus scrapped as a result. Furthermore, his character has undergone a complete U-turn from that of a homecoming hero to a somewhat unwanted and unappreciated interloper.
And that doesn’t look likely to change anytime soon.
As we all know, Batista’s Hollywood commitments mean that he’ll have to take some time off to promote his upcoming Marvel movie, Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s hardly going to help win over an increasingly unimpressed fanbase.
But this hiatus may be coming sooner rather than later. With his film hitting cinemas in August of this year, many had expected his disappearance to fall sometime in the summer. But could Batista be leaving even before the month is out? WrestlingInc reports:
It's worth noting that Batista still isn't being advertised for any upcoming WWE TV tapings or the Payback pay-per-view. The latest word was that he will work Payback with Evolution in a rematch against The Shield. There was talk of doing a six-man rematch or three singles matches.
So in short, there’s still no guarantee that Batista will be at Payback next month. The WWE is not advertising him and the only real suggestion that he’ll be there is the fact that Evolution’s feud with the Shield is still very much raging on.
But surely the company won’t let him miss the show?
Given the attention that Evolution vs. the Shield has continued to receive on Raw as of late, it would seem rather nonsensical to allow that to go to waste.
Of course, as the article mentioned, there has been talk of possibly staging three singles matches at Payback, rather than a rehash of the six-man bout that we saw at Extreme Rules. Under these circumstances, it would arguably be easier to accommodate Batista’s sabbatical.
But such an eventuality would mean one member of the Shield, likely Seth Rollins or Dean Ambrose, having to go without a match at the June 1st show—and I’m sure nobody wants to see that happen.
Another way to explain the Animal’s absence would simply be to write him out with a kayfabe injury. Having got the better of the Shield in recent weeks, he could be due a backlash.
But again, this would most likely be of detriment to the overall feud. A resultant three-on-two handicap match seems unlikely, and while we could see Evolution recruit an additional member, I’m not sure there’s enough time in which to assemble an effective story that would do such an angle justice.
Essentially, I believe that having Batista miss Payback would not be a great decision. The ongoing rivalry between the Shield and Evolution doesn’t deserve to be sabotaged by the extracurricular commitments of a non-wrestling venture.
The “latest word” about Batista sticking around to work the show could yet materialise, but the fact that he’s not being advertised seems suspicious to say the least.
Perhaps the WWE has contingency plans in place though—perhaps they even have the right to delay Batista's departure. And actually, given the company’s strong performances in their booking as of late, I certainly have faith that they’ll work this one out. Let’s just hope that the overall storyline doesn’t suffer as a result.
But what do you guys make of this one?
Is the lack of advertising for Batista at Payback confirmation that he won’t be there? Or is this a minor point that’s simply been blown out of proportion? Further still, would you see it as a great loss if the Animal wasn’t at the show?
Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts on this news, as well as your opinions on any of the points discussed in the article.