Wrestler of the Day – January 18: Batista

We continue our January 18 double feature with the Animal himself: Batista.

Batista got his start in OVW as Leviathan, the enforcer for a goth/cult stable. Since there’s a chance it’s happening at Wrestlemania, here’s a potential preview from OVW in September of 2001.

Leviathan vs. Brock Lesnar

Lesnar is listed at 246lbs while Batista is listed at 333. The TV commentators say that’s about five pounds between them. They shove each other around to start until Brock gets caught in a belly to back suplex. Brock comes right back with a slam, only to walk into a spinebuster. Batista pounds away in the corner but every shot has a ton of force behind it. Lesnar rebounds out of the corner with a cross body (seriously) for two but Batista stomps him back down in the corner.

A Cena ProtoBomb gets two on Brock and we hit the chinlock. Brock’s latest comeback attempt is countered with a DDT and it’s back to the same hold. Lesnar fights up and sends Batista into the corner to escape before hitting Chris Sabin’s Cradle Shock for two, only to have Batista’s manager Sinn hairspray Lesnar in the eyes. A spear from Batista is good for the pin.

Rating: D+. This is more of a historical interest than a good match. Batista was still doing the really basic power brawling here and Lesnar was a face at this point. Then again this is OVW so it’s not like they were doing this stuff on the main roste.r Both guys would be in the WWF in less than nine months.

Batista would debut on Smackdown in June of 2002 as Reverend D-Von’s deacon. When people realized that was going nowhere, it was off to Raw where he fought Rob Van Dam on December 9, 2002.

Batista vs. Rob Van Dam

Batista has Ric Flair mentoring him at this point. Rob gets shoved down to start and a big clothesline drops him again. Another clothesline gets two as it’s all Big Dave so far. Rob scores with some quick kicks and Rolling Thunder for two, followed by the top rope kick to the chest. Flair breaks up the Five Star and Van Dam gets slammed down. Batista loads up the Bomb but Kane (Batista’s opponent on Sunday) runs in for the DQ. Too short to rate but it was basically a Batista squash.

A triceps injury would put Batista out for most of 2003 but he would return in the fall, eventually facing Shawn Michaels at Armageddon 2003.

Shawn Michaels vs. Batista

Batista hadnt been back long after a triceps injury so this is one of his first major singles feuds. This is Shawns 68th PPV match. Thats a pretty awesome number, especially when this is Batistas third match on PPV. Flair is with Batista here again. Shawn snaps off some punches in the corner which dont do much damage but theyre something I guess. More of them land and Batista is getting annoyed.

 

Shawn fires some kicks into the leg and tags Ric on the floor. Back in the ring Batista gets his hands on Shawn and the pain begins. Suplex gets two. Big Dave works on the back which is still the focal point of Shawn every time hes out there. Theres the forearm but Batista kills him with a clothesline after the nip up. To the floor we go and Shawn eats steps.

 

More back worth by Dave, this time in the form of a backbreaker. Shawn starts his comeback with a bunch of strikes and theres a second forearm/nip up. A two handed choke by Batista is countered into a DDT to put both guys down. The big elbow hits and the fans are into it all of a sudden. Chin music is countered into a spinebuster though and theres a second one. Batista Bomb is countered out of nowhere and Shawn hits the kick, falling on top for the pin.

 

Rating: B-. Not terrible but I wasn’t feeling the ending. I get the theory of it, which is Shawn can’t go toe to toe with him and needs to use his experience to get that one big shot in to take Batista down, but that doesn’t mean it worked. Not a bad match but Batista was still getting the hang of things and it showed. Shawn helped him through a lot of this, and that’s the point of a veteran.

Batista spent most of 2004 in tag team matches with other members of Evolution while not having the best of luck in singles matches. 2005 would be the start of something big though and Batista opened the year with a match against Chris Benoit on the January 3 episode of Monday Night Raw.

Batista vs. Chris Benoit

Benoit gets shoved down to the mat and then into the corner for some knees to the ribs. That’s all fine with Benoit though as he grabs a dragon screw legwhip to put Batista down. Batista shrugs it off and hits a backbreaker but goes to unhook a buckle pad. Chris grabs some Rolling Germans to set up the Swan Dive but Batista rolls away before he can jump. Back in and Chris gets crotched on top, setting up a MuscleBuster of all things for two.

Off to a half crab on Benoit who grabs Benoit’s hand and makes it slap the mat in a funny bit. A spinebuster gets a pair of two counts on Benoit but he comes back with an enziguri to put both guys down. Another German suplex sets up the Swan Dive for two and Chris goes after the knee. That goes nowhere so he puts on a bad looking Crossface. Batista easily stands up and rams Benoit over and over into the exposed buckle. The Batista Bomb easily ends Benoit.

Rating: C-. This was another glorified squash as Benoit’s best hold was easily broken and countered. Batista was about to be unleashed on the top of the company and he wouldn’t look back for several years. He would be the hottest thing in WWE in just a few weeks and this was a big step in the right direction.

Next up for Batista was a win in the Royal Rumble followed by taking the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania from HHH. He would defend the title against HHH at Backlash and then complete the trilogy inside the Cell at Backlash 2005.

Raw World Title (World): Batista vs. HHH

Apparently the Cell is now the Devil’s Duplex. Seriously, what is JR on because I want some of it. Also it’s now a sentient being as it has something like emotions I guess. The Cell is still half up as Batista’s music hits. I didn’t realize he had I Walk Alone this early but apparently he did. He also had the gun pyro which is rather cool. He’s also embarking on his maiden voyage inside Hell in a Cell. Is he a boar captain all of a sudden? You can never accuse JR of using basic language.

The Cell being lowered really is a cool moment as you know you’re about to see some violence. Lawler says there is no way out. Today that would likely get him yelled at by Vince for bringing up memories of a defunct show. Why is he so paranoid about so many things? Batista is in the white tights here so you know he’s serious. They point out how fairly stupid it is to give HHH back to back shots by more or less saying this is the last chance for him.

HHH goes to the arm by sending it into the post. That’s smart I guess as it’s hard to Batista Bomb someone with one arm, although you would think the leg would be smarter. Then again he married Stephanie so he’s smarter than we are. And now HHH gets a tool box. This cannot turn into another Home Improvement match like it was vs. Nash. Well if nothing else Batista is better than Nash so I can live with that.

There’s a big chain, which at least is something that I guess you could understand having in a tool box assuming you could use it to secure something or to get a grip on something. I should host a tool show. Batista manages to survive about a minute of being choked by a chain which is being pulled by a 6’4 270lb man. What? You don’t see how that makes sense?

I love fans that encourage violence that could potentially kill a man. Well to be fair HHH is supposed to anger the fans so he’s getting that right. Batista hits four spinebusters on the floor. Not really as he just rammed HHH into the post but whatever Ross says goes I guess. HHH mimics Flair and is busted open. The white boots are working for Big Dave. HHH hits a real spinebuster to get us back to even.

He gets a barbed wire steel chair from under the ring which is there to cover any and all of their barbed wire steel chair needs. Batista takes a SICK shot of it to the back. I know it’s rubbed tipped or fixed to an extent, but DANG it looked great. The face of Batista more or less says a combination of OH DANG IT, OW and MAN I COULD GO FOR A POPSICLE. He gets the chair and DRILLS HHH in the head with it. That sounded and looked great.

I love the raking of a person’s face into the cage. That just looks awesome every time they do it and it never gets old. It’s ALL Batista at this point. HHH takes a powerslam onto the barbed wire. Ok so it landed on his legs but whatever. I guess those Buns of Steel videos helped a lot there. HHH counters with a DDT onto it as this is getting very good. Both guys are bleeding now. See, this is a great example of using blood to make a match better.

Instead of just randomly bleeding in every match, this has been a brutal fight that has built up to this moment and it feels epic. Rather than having blood in every match where it becomes clichéd, the blood here is a sight that makes you think about how brutal this is. A sledgehammer shot to the face gets two as we’ve reached epic. Batista kicks out of a punch wrapped in chain to a HUGE pop.

A lot of people that that was it apparently and I can’t say I blame them. In a cool spot right after that, HHH jumps at Batista with the chain but Batista holds up the hammer so that it slams into HHH’s jaw/throat. He stands there for about 8 seconds before just collapsing. I love that visual. Dang HHH got thrown over the corner. After this long of a match I’m surprised he can take a bump like that. Batista busts out some steps and gets them in the ring with HHH down.

HHH is just getting destroyed here as Batista is just in a zone here. Batista Bomb is countered with a low blow and the Pedigree for a LONG two. The steps are set up in the middle of the ring and Batista is in trouble. Pedigree is blocked into a spinebuster onto the steps and a Batista Bomb for the pin.

In a nice move, HHH picked up the hammer but gets dropped before he can hit it. When he’s pinned it’s still in his hand which is like the scene that ends a movie, or in this case a great match. HHH would be gone four months for this as Cena became top dog on Raw. I’m sure HHH’s diminishes spotlight had nothing to do with his absence at all.

Rating: A. This was a WAR. This is what Hell in a Cell is supposed to be like: two guys that absolutely cannot stand each other beating the tar out of the other person for a single prize. The blood was great, the violence was great, and both guys were great. See this match for sure as it’s awesome and I’m pretty sure it’s on the Hell in a Cell DVD. Great match and it made Batista look unstoppable.

Batista would dominate the title scene for the rest of the year, even after being moved to Smackdown. He would crush JBL in a three match series before having a quick feud with Eddie Guerrero which was cut short by Guerrero passing away. Batista would get injured again in early 2006 and have to forefit the title. He would come back in the summer and chase the title again, but first he would challenge Big Show for the ECW Title on the August 1, 2006 episode of ECW on Sci-Fi.

ECW World Title: Big Show vs. Batista

Batista’s reaction is pretty mixed. There are definitely cheers though. The fans want RVD but they get a muscle head from the WWE isntead. Then the music stops and Batista gets on the ropes where the people just rip into him. They do the big match intros and Batista is loudly booed. Then again they’re not that thrilled with Big Show either. We get a loud YOU BOTH SUCK and it’s off. They fight over a power advantage to start as Joey and Tazz have to ignore the fans.

Batista escapes an arm hold and pounds Show down to the floor as we take a break. Back with Show in control as the fans are ranting about the match again. Show flips them all off and the announcers have to ignore them again. Chokeslam is broken up but Show clotheslines him down. There’s what sounds like a boring chant. Now it’s CHANGE THE CHANNEL. Show slams him down but his Vader Bomb is broken up by Big Dave. A superplex puts both guys down.

Big Dave avoids a charge and hits his shoulders in the corner. Some clotheslines don’t do much so he spears Show down for two. Now the chant is BORING. Chokeslam out of nowhere gets two. Show grabs the belt but walks into the spinebuster. The Bomb is countered into the Final Cut for two. And never mind as the belt shot draws the LAME DQ.

Rating: D+. The problem here is the crowd. The match itself wasn’t that bad. It was your standard main event power match and could have been a watchable match on TV or PPV with few complaints being made. Well ok everyone would complain about the bad ending but the rest of the match was fine. That being said, the fans flat out did not want to see this at all and they were very vocal about it. Not the wrestlers’ fault though.

Batista would take the title back from King Booker at Survivor Series to reestablish his dominance. This would lead to a match on the December 22, 2006 episode of Smackdown. I think the participants speak for themselves.

Batista vs. Santa Claus

Santa interrupts Batista’s promo and Big Dave doesn’t seem happy. After throwing out some t-shirts and DVDs to the fans, Santa gives Batista some candy canes to toss out, only to blast him with a pipe. Santa goes to leave but Teddy Long makes a match between the two of them right now. Batista pounds away but Santa goes after the bad arm. The arm work goes nowhere as Batista drives him into the corner and clotheslines Santa down. Santa loses his hat and beard to reveal Sylvain Grenier, who is Batista Bombed and pinned with ease.

After that amusing match, it was off to something a bit more serious: the Undertaker. The title match was at Wrestlemania so you know what happened. Here’s the rematch in a last man standing match at Backlash 2007.

Smackdown World Title: Batista vs. Undertaker

Undertaker is defending here. Apparently he’s never lost a last man standing match. I wouldn’t have guessed that. He also might have a bad right arm coming into this. The chokeslam is broken up but the flying clothesline takes Batista down. Old School hits and Batista is in trouble early. Big Dave comes back with something called a powerslam for about four.

Out to the floor and Batista sends him into the barricade to take over. Scratch that as he gets sent into the steps, but Taker’s arm isn’t holding up that well. Batista has a bunch of tape on his leg so Taker has a target as well, making the arm not as much of a handicap. Taker puts him on the apron and drops the leg for a five count or so. Now Undertaker gets sent into the steps but no one can follow up.

They head back into the ring with Batista going up, only to get dropped by an uppercut. A superplex puts Batista down but Undertaker can’t get up either. Batista gets a seven count and they slug it out. A big clothesline puts Taker down for eight, followed by a slam and legdrop from Batista for about six. Taker sends him out to the floor and starts setting up the announce table. Batista avoids the pain though by sending Undertaker into the barricade.

Big Dave sets for a powerslam through the announce table but gets caught in a Russian legsweep, sending him into the barricade for about seven. Undertaker hits him in the face with the steps and Batista barely makes it to his feet. It’s table time with Batista being placed on the table as Undertaker walks the barricade for a legdrop through Batista and the table. That looked pretty awesome but it only gets nine. Something, probably the steps, busted Batista open.

They head back in and Batista hits a spear out of nowhere, getting an eight. Batista snaps and hits three spinebusters but that gets nine as well. The Bomb is countered and Undertaker hits a chokeslam to put both guys down but Batista is up at nine to keep things going. Taker channels his inner idiot and pounds away in the corner, and he deserves the Batista Bomb that he gets.

That still doesn’t end it so Batista cracks him with a chair. Taker backdrops him onto the chair, followed by the Tombstone which STILL only gets nine. The look on Taker’s face is great. They head back to the floor and Taker punches him up the ramp. Batista pounds away at him but the Bomb attempt is countered. Taker tries to throw him off the stage but Batista escapes and spears him off the stage into the electrical equipment, causing an explosion. The match ends in a draw as no one can get up in time.

Rating: B. The ending was a cop out and got booed out of the building, but the rest of it was pretty good. It wasn’t a masterpiece or anything and it really became a rehash of the match at Mania, although with a counting system instead of pins or submissions. Still though it was entertaining and felt like a big time match. They would have even more matches that were good too, so this was a good second match in the series.

Edge would take the title from Undertaker by cashing in Money in the Bank and spend most of the year feuding with Batista over the title. Batista wouldn’t be able to take it from him until Edge was injured and vacated the title. Great Khali won the belt in a battle royal but drop it to Batista at Unforgiven in a three way. Here’s another rematch from No Mercy 2007 inside the Punjabi Prison. Yeah it’s a stupid match but it was so over the top that it was fun.

Smackdown World Title: Batista vs. Great Khali

Batista is defending and this is inside the Punjabi Prison. Ok so there’s a big round cage around the ring that goes down to the floor. It comes up to a circle at the top with sharp sticks on top. There’s another cage (all made of bamboo mind you) with four gates on it. You can request to open one at any time and at that point you have sixty seconds to go through it. If you don’t get out, it’s closed and that gate can’t be used again. You have to get out of both cages to win. It’s WAY too complicated which is why there were only two of these matches ever.

Batista gets in a quick shot to knock Khali into the ropes and tie him up. He hammers away instead of leaving like an intelligent person would. Well he’s an animal so maybe that explains it. Khali comes back with a chop to the head and opens a gate, but Batista stops him enough for the clock to go down. The Plunge is countered but Khali kicks him down. Leg drop misses and Batista spears him down.

The second gate is opened but Khali grabs the leg. He chokes him against the cage until the clock runs out and the door is shut. Khali pulls a rope off the wall of the cage to tie Batista to the cage. There’s a strap attached to the cage for some reason so Khali pulls it down and it’s whipping time. Batista wasn’t tied up so I guess it was just choking. The third gate is opened but Khali walks into a spinebuster. Big Dave goes for the door but Khali stops him again, leaving us with only one door.

Batista grabs the strap and gives Khali a beating. Now Batista tries to climb over the top for some reason but Khali pounds him down, right into position for Batista to Bomb him out of the corner. Khali blocks it with punches though and the champion is down. Vice Grip goes on and Batista is in trouble. Khali asks for the fourth gate to be opened but Batista hits him low to put both guys down.

The last door closes so Khali beats up the referee through the cage. Khali tries to climb as JBL says this is something out of Jurassic Park. Uh….not exactly Jibbles. Khali tries to climb out but gets knocked down. JBL: “When big men fall down off the top rope like that it hurts.” Batista climbs as well but gets pulled down with a big crash. Khali climbs up and over the top of the first cage while Batista is still down. Both guys climb a cage and in a very cool looking ending, Batista jumps from the outside of the inner cage to the inside of the outer cage and gets up and out faster than Khali can to retain.

Rating: C-. I don’t think anyone would say this was good. I don’t think anyone would argue that a regular cage match wouldn’t have been better. I do however think this wasn’t half bad. The ending was really cool with that jump being something almost out of an action movie. It was an interesting experiment but thankfully they didn’t try it after this.

After losing the title at Armageddon, Batista would float around for most of 2008 until his long awaited showdown with John Cena at Summerslam. How can I not include this?

John Cena vs. Batista

Batista shoves Cena back to start before grabbing a headlock. Cena comes back with a quick slam and Batista stops to take a breather. A big clothesline puts Cena down and a Jackhammer gets two. Cena comes right back with a suplex of his own for two but Batista puts him down with a side slam. A quick FU attempt is countered and Batista goes after the leg. Off to a Figure Four on Cena (just like Flair, he puts it on the wrong leg) who can’t power out so we get a rope grab instead for the break.

Back up immediately and Cena throws Batista to the floor in something resembling an FU before collapsing down. Back in again and Cena fires off the shoulder blocks and the ProtoBomb to set up the Shuffle. The FU is countered again and Batista kicks him in the face to put both guys down. Batista drives shoulders into the corner and catches him in the spinebuster to put Cena down. Cena backdrops out of the Batista Bomb and hits a DDT on the leg to set up the STFU. Batista FINALLY crawls over and gets a rope to shock Cena.

Batista gets up and escapes another FU to hook a rear naked choke of all things. Cena fights out of a hold as well, only to get caught by a spear for a VERY close two. They’re in full on main event mode here and it’s getting very awesome. Cena counters a powerslam into an FU but can’t follow up due to exhaustion. It’s finally good for two so Cena goes up with nowhere else to go.

Batista is up as well and they slug it out on top with Batista being knocked to the mat. Cena tries the Fameasser but gets caught in a Batista Bomb…..for two, plus a neck injury that required three months off (I seem to remember that happening earlier but WWE said it was here). Not that it matters as Batista goes into Animal Mode and ENDS Cena with a Batista Bomb for the pin.

Rating: A-. This is exactly what it was supposed to be: the two top guys in the company going to war with only one left standing. It’s a great fight in the vein of Rock vs. Austin from back in the day. Almost no complaints here and it felt like a major match on a major stage. What else can you ask for here?

Batista would win a few more world titles in 2008/9 but injuries kept sidetracking him. He would form a short lived tag team with Rey Mysterio before Mysterio accidentally cost him a four way match at Bragging Rights. This triggered a Batista heel turn, setting up a massacre of Mysterio at Survivor Series 2009.

Rey Mysterio vs. Batista

That Booyaka song of Rey’s is growing on me. It’s fun to shout along with. Rey takes the leg out quickly and tries the 619 but Batista bails. Rey follows and is immediately slammed against the apron and Big Dave takes over. Mysterio tries to fire off some kicks but Batista clotheslines his head off to stop Rey cold. The Batista Bomb is escaped as is a powerslam and Rey goes after the knee.

Rey kicks Batista into 619 position but Batista grabs the legs out of the air but can’t hit the Bomb yet. Mysterio sends him to the floor for a seated senton but Batista shrugs it off. Back in and Rey hits a pair of 619’s to the back and the ribs and a third to the face. Another springboard seated senton puts Batista down and Rey goes up for the Eddie dance, only to dive onto knees. Batista kills Rey with a spear and there’s the spinebuster. The Batista Bomb kills Rey but Dave won’t cover. There’s another Bomb and a third so the referee stops the match.

Rating: C+. I liked this for the story it was telling and the match wasn’t all that important. This was cool to see as Batista let out some of his anger and didn’t have to get pinned by some stupid rollup or anything like that. Sometimes you need some violence and the destruction of someone instead of them being able to stand tall. Let the bad guy win once in awhile and let him look strong. Then when someone stands up to him and beats him, they’re a hero. For some reason, this never happens anymore.

In a surprise move, Batista would join forces with Vince McMahon in February, earning him a title match against John Cena after Cena had competed in an Elimination Chamber match. Batista won with ease but would lose the title to Cena at Wrestlemania XXVI. Here’s their rematch in a last man standing rematch at Extreme Rules 2010.

Raw World Title: John Cena vs. Batista

We get the big match intros. Depending on the source you read, this might be Big Dave’s last match. We get some feeling out stuff and then Batista is like screw it I’m getting a chair. Naturally this doesn’t work. When did so many people start using the big boot? FU doesn’t hit and Cena is thrown into the post.

Batista goes for the knee because that strategy always works in these things right? He does that for a good while. Cena gets a reversal into the steps to get Cena back to about even. Batista busts out a freaking figure four. Well you can’t fault him for a lack of psychology. Cena goes into his sequence but Batista hits the floor.

FU onto the chair hits but it gets 8. Wow that’s odd to type. Spinebuster gets 8 for Big Dave. Cena goes thgrough a table and of course that’s not enough. Batista is looking for plundah, perhaps a bicycle, when a kid yells that he hates the Animal. The Animal feels the same way. Cena puts him through the announce table. You can kind of say this is a paint by numbers thing. It’s not but you could say it is. STFU goes on and Big Dave taps, but you can’t win that way.

He’s out but gets up at 9. Nice little throwback (I crack myself up) to Raw two weeks ago. With nothing else left, Cena crotches him on the post and busts out Duct Tape to tie his legs together. Since he isn’t standing, that’s good enough to retain. Or win the title according to the main page.

Rating: B. Solid match but nothing classic. Cena beats Batista again to end the feud and possibly end Batista. This was fine for what it was, which is something I think people need to keep in mind. They weren’t going for a classic showdown here. That was at Mania. This was the violence aspect of it and more about a definitive ending. You have to keep that in mind on matches like these as it’s a huge difference in style and goals.

That’s pretty much it for Batista as he would leave after the second rematch a month later. Overall Batista is an incredibly successful guy but he was a step below Cena once John ascended to the top of the company. Make no mistake about it though: he was the bigger star for about nine months after Cena won his first title. Batista got REALLY good during his feud with Undertaker and never looked back. I’m glad he’s in WWE again as even at 45 years old he still has a lot to offer.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up my new book of on the History of Summerslam at Amazon for just $4 at:

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2 comments

  1. M.R. says:

    He may not be the most fluid wrestler, or the most charismatic when it comes to promos, but he’s a legit star. Goes to show how impactful building a guy correctly can be.

  2. MikeCheyne says:

    That HHH/Batista Hell in a Cell match was awesome. I like your comparison to a movie because it is very cinematic at the end–HHH gets the hammer up but gets bombed before he can use it, but it’s very well filmed.