The Animal spoiled Ric Flair's 70th birthday celebration, attacking The Nature Boy backstage. He also had a message for Triple H.
Batista planted the seeds for Monday's attack during the 1,000th episode of SmackDown in October, when he reunited with his fellow Evolution members. He mentioned how Triple H had never beaten him in a singles match, and the two shared an uneasy hug.
The 50-year-old Superstar initially made his ring return with WWE in January 2014 after four years away. He made an instant impact by winning the Royal Rumble, but it wasn't long before the fans turned on him and necessitated a change to a heel persona.
Batista would lose a Triple Threat match against Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton at WrestleMania XXX for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship before reforming Evolution with The Viper and Triple H. After a couple of highly entertaining matches against The Shield, he decided to step away from WWE once again.
It was never 100 percent certain when he would be back, but his departure was expected because of his role as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy.
According to Brett Hoffman and Anthony Benigno of WWE.com, Batista made it clear in June 2014 he intended to be back in the squared circle eventually:
"I left because I had obligations I made to Marvel, and I needed to go out and promote Guardians of the Galaxy. I'm not leaving behind WWE, I'm not leaving behind wrestling. I love it. I always say, at the end of the day, I am a wrestler, I am a sports-entertainer. I'm not leaving it behind, but I fulfilled my obligations and now I need to fulfill other obligations and that's why I left."
With that said, a difference in philosophy may have kept Batista out of the picture longer than originally planned. While WWE eventually got it right by turning The Animal heel and aligning him with The Authority, bringing him back to win the Rumble as a face was ill-advised to say the least, especially when the fans were begging for Bryan.
During his WWE hiatus, Batista revealed in an August 2014 interview with Chad Dukes of D.C. CBS radio (h/t PWTorch.com) that he wasn't enthralled with being utilized as a face: "I'll be honest with you, I just don't want it. I love being a heel, man, you know that. That's what I love to do, man. I think I'm the guy that people love to boo and I'm OK with that and I love being heel."
Batista took that one step further a month later on an episode of the Talk Is Jericho podcast (h/t Raj Giri of Wrestling Inc) with Chris Jericho when he criticized WWE's creative direction:
"I miss it and I love it. They need to work with me on creative stuff, man. I'd like to have more creative control, because some of this stuff ... it's like they argue with you just to argue with you when they know that this is the route we should be going. Then we end up going that route anyway, but it's usually like three weeks too late."
Booking philosophy aside, it made sense for WWE and Batista to join forces once again. Now that The Animal has mainstream appeal as a movie star, his presence is most definitely beneficial to WWE. It goes both ways, though, since the company will take every opportunity to promote his movie career.
Even though Batista's previous run seemingly wasn't appreciated by most fans, there is value in bringing him back into the fold. He has a ton of credibility as a six-time world champion, and one can only assume the WWE fanbase has more respect for him now after the success of Guardians of the Galaxy.
There will be plenty of intrigue surrounding his development in the coming weeks now WWE is fully aware of the entity it possesses. A match with Triple H at WrestleMania 35 on April 7 is seemingly on the horizon.
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