Extreme Rules came to its conclusion last night and I couldn’t help but think that the body language expressed by Dave Bautista signified a man who is utterly demoralised and disenchanted with his WWE return.
Let’s not mince our words here. Some of this is absolutely Dave Bautista’s fault. His work rate in the squared circle gives the impression of a man who thought all he merely had to do was turn up and the crowd would pop for him, but as we witnessed at the Royal Rumble, he is a man who epitomised the term “ring rust”.
He seemed unfit and unathletic; ill-equipped to deal with the physical demands of an oncoming regular wrestling schedule, and it was abundantly clear that the WWE was positioning him to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
However, the crowd was rabid and unforgiving and the mood turned when it transpired crowd favourite Daniel Bryan wasn’t the #30 entrant in the Royal Rumble itself.
What happened the very next day couldn’t be foreseen, so when CM Punk sensationally quit the WWE, it sent shockwaves through the business and the industry as a whole.
Punk has still not returned, with some reports citing the reason for his departure as disillusionment with WWE’s decision to hand Batista the headline slot at WrestleMania 30.
No matter where Batista went and what he did, he got booed and jeered by the crowds, despite the fact he was brought back as a face. Then WWE tried to turn him into a tweener and then a heel, but the boos remained just as audible.
The point of his return was more or less killed when the WWE made the executive decision to propel Daniel Bryan into the main event at WrestleMania as part of a triple threat match with himself and Randy Orton. They didn’t have a choice. There was literally no other way to appease the crowds than to let Daniel Bryan have his moment in the limelight as the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Batista’s return is a case of the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong era.
Daniel Bryan constantly being denied the chance to compete in the WWE World Heavyweight title picture combined with the exit of CM Punk were probably the main reasons why Batista has been the subject of disdain and invective from the crowds at WWE events. But the view many have of him as a part-timer, only there on a short-term basis to promote a film, hasn’t helped either.
It’s obvious that the building protests in favour of Daniel Bryan were a direct effort to circumvent the consternation caused by Batista’s return, and the original plan to have him win at WrestleMania 30 and become the champion.
We’re now in May, and Batista is involved in an angle alongside Triple H and Randy Orton as part of a resurrected Evolution stable, feuding with The Shield.
Orton and Triple H have mainly been involved in the delivery of the promos whereas Batista has stood silently alongside them. Even in the matches, he has looked uneasy and out of sorts and it is palpable that the talent alongside him are helping him along.
It’s a shame because Batista is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars to come out of the Ruthless Aggression era and he had some great matches during that time, but this return has been nothing short of being an unmitigated disaster.
And that’s not even mentioning his penchant for skinny jeans, either.