Following Evolution's loss to The Shield at Payback and a tongue-lashing from Triple H the following night on Raw, Dave Batista stormed out of WWE, bringing to an end one of the strangest comebacks in WWE history. (His spot in the group was conveniently filled by a newly turned Seth Rollins later on in the evening.)
The reason for the exit is mainly Batista's outside obligations. Marvel blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy—in which the wrestler has an important supporting role—is due out in August, and he'll obviously need to be on hand to promote it. He also has another project—a remake of '80s classic action film Kickboxer, which will co-star UFC icon Georges St-Pierre—in the works, as Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter notes.
So, when can we expect him back?
Well, under normal circumstances, the answer would be whenever his schedule is free again. But looking back at Batista's badly booked—and at times totally disastrous—comeback in the first half of 2014, the question may not be “when” he returns, but “if” he returns.
WWE attempted to book Batista as a big babyface upon his return to the company in January—and it backfired spectacularly, with the crowds booing him vociferously everywhere he went.
It even ended up as a storyline on television, with Randy Orton mocking “The Animal” and wondering why he even came back, if this was the reception he was going to get.
It's hard to say why Batista's comeback flopped. Maybe the fans felt his in-ring work wasn't up to scratch, or perhaps they just disliked his (somewhat) obnoxious character. Putting him against dull midcarder Alberto Del Rio in his first big program back probably didn’t help.
But ultimately his return did fail, and people rallied behind the more likable, down-to-earth Daniel Bryan and picked him as their champion instead.
Things got a bit better for Batista after he turned heel—a role he is far more suited to—but, looking at it, it's hard to call his return successful.
So, really, what reason does he have to return to WWE?
As noted, his acting career is going from strength to strength. And, if Guardians of the Galaxy does well at the box office—which it probably will, going by Marvel's stellar track record—he'll be getting even more offers pouring in from Hollywood. Why wouldn’t he turn his back on his wrestling career once and for all and switch to acting full time?
Not only would the money be as good or better, he also wouldn't have to worry about the grueling schedule, in-ring injuries or backstage politics.
And remember, he's 45. He’s suffered his fair share of muscle tears and injuries over the years. He's not a young guy who can take the bumps and bruises like he used to.
When you have other options, as Batista does, is wrestling truly worth the hassle?
Will Batista ever return to WWE programming?
Of course, I may be underestimating his love for the business. He didn’t have to come back in January, either, but he did. The Rock’s passion for wrestling has led to him working around his movie commitments to get in the ring. Why couldn’t Batista be the same? Maybe we will see him again in late 2014 or early 2015.
Personally, though, I think we’ve probably seen the last of “The Animal” as a regular wrestler.
Factoring in his blossoming film career, age and negative fan reaction, it seems more likely he will decide it’s simply not worth it anymore and concentrate on his life outside the business.