Welcome back to How It Started vs How It Ended! Today’s edition of the column is all about Batista! I’ll take a look at Batistas’ start as a Deacon, two of the rivalries that defined his career, and how “The Animal” finished off his time with WWE. Now that you’ve all been brought up to speed, let’s see how it started, and how it ended!
Dave Bautista began his main roster run on the May 9, 2002 episode of Smackdown, debuting as Deacon Batista. Deacon Batista, alongside his partner Reverend D-Von, made his in ring debut during a tag team match against the team of Farooq and Randy Orton. Deacon Batista scored the pin on Orton, via a massive Spinebuster, sparking the Deacons’ first feud. Deacon Batista and Reverend D-Von took on Randy Orton, and his various tag team partners over the next few weeks, and the heel duo eventually fought the young up and comer off. Soon after that, Deacon Batista took on Rikishi in a singles match. During the contest, Reverend D-Von jumped onto the apron to hit Rikishi, but missed, inadvertently hitting Deacon Batista. The distraction allowed Rikishi to hit a super kick, and pin the Deacon, causing him to lose for the first time. A week or so after the accidental collision, Reverend D-Von took on John Cena, and won. After the match, Deacon Batista attacked D-Von, setting up his first singles feud. Reverend D-Von and Batista would go on to have a short feud, until the November 14 episode of Smackdown took place. On that episode, Batista finished off Reverend D-Von with a thunderous sit out powerbomb, and briefly set out on his own. Now known simply as Batista, he would soon be drafted to Raw, and find himself being taken under the wing of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Things would only skyrocket from there, as Batista would soon begin to unleash “The Animal”.
In January of 2003, Flair and Batista, along with Randy Orton and HHH, began their run as the group known as Evolution. Unfortunately, Batista suffered a legitimate injury, forcing him to sit on the sidelines until October. During the October 20th episode of Raw, Shawn Michaels and Goldberg competed in the main event, with the World Heavyweight Championship up for grabs. During the closing moments of the match, Batista appeared at ringside, and tossed “The Heartbreak Kid” into the crowd. Batista then turned his attention to Goldberg, hitting a spine buster, and leaving him laying with a sit out powerbomb. Just two short months after that, Batista won gold for the first time in his career, winning the tag team championships with stable mate Ric Flair. Batista and Flair won the titles at December 2003’s Armageddon event, defeating the Dudley Boyz, and various other tag teams, in a gauntlet match. Triple H would also win gold on this night, and with that, every member of Evolution held a title. “The Animal” and “The Nature Boy” held on to those titles until early 2004, dropping the straps to Booker T and RVD on Raw. Just 2 short months after the loss, Batista and Flair won the tag team championships again, gaining redemption on Booker T and RVD. The pair held the titles until April 19th, 2004, this time being defeated by Edge, and the “Rabid Wolverine”. As days and months went by, the relationship between Batista and Triple H began to get rocky. The two began bickering more and more, until Batista eventually teased leaving the group. “The Animal” gritted his teeth, and remained as a part of the group, but not without having a plan in the back of his mind.
Fast forward to January 2005, Triple H realizes that Batista is starting to become bigger than the group. On the way to the Royal Rumble, Hunter began trying to detour Batista from being a part of the Rumble match. Batista went against HHH’s requests, and didn’t only participate in the match, he won it. The result gave Batista an opportunity to face either WWE Champion JBL, or World Heavyweight Champion Triple H. Hunter began trying to persuade Batista once again, hoping Batista would decide to face JBL and his challenger, John Cena, at Wrestlemania 21. During a segment that took place a few months before “the show of shows”, Batista had a contract signing segment, where it was time for him to decide which champion he would challenge. Batista weighed his options, initially picking JBL, and giving a big thumbs up to Flair and HHH, as they clapped with approval. Batista then turned his thumbs down, and selected HHH as his Wrestlemania opponent, officially unleashing “The Animal”. Batista would then drive the champion through a table, putting an end to Evolution, and setting up “The Animal” for his first major match. Batista went on to win the World Heavyweight Championship, defeating a bloodied and battered HHH, via the “Batista Bomb”. Batista and “The Game” followed up the massive Wrestlemania collision with a rematch at 2005’s Backlash event, and Batista won yet again. A few months went by, and the champ, with Ric Flair still by his side, defeated Edge in a match for the title. Ric Flair turned on Batista after the match, in collusion with Triple H, setting up a third match between “The Animal” and “The Game”. The two would compete in a Hell In A Cell match at 2005’s Vengeance Pay Per View, with Batista winning once again. The match marked the first time any superstar ever pinned “The Game” in the cell, and put an end to the first leg of their storied rivalry. The pair won PWI’s “Feud of the Year” award, and Batista also won the “Wrestler of the Year” award. Batista held on to the big gold belt for 282 days, amd surpassed the record once held by HHH. After being drafted to Smackdown, Batista suffered a second legitimate injury, forcing “The Animal” to vacate the belt, on January 6, 2006.
Ten long months after the injury forced him to the sidelines, Batista made his return to the ring, remaining a member of the Smackdown roster. Batista reclaimed the title he never lost, at November 2006’s Survivor Series, defeating King Booker, to become the World Heavyweight Champion for the second time. In January 2007, the annual Royal Rumble match took place, this time being won by the legendary Undertaker. Soon after winning the Rumble match, the Undertaker made a decision on who he would challenge at Wrestlemania, choosing the World Heavyweight Champion Batista. The champions and challengers from Raw and Smackdown squared off at 2007’s No Way Out event, when WWE Champion John Cena teamed with Shawn Michaels, and took on Batista, along with The Undertaker. In the closing moments of the match, Batista hit a spine-buster on Michaels, as ‘Taker hit a choke slam on Cena. Batista turned his attention to his Wrestlemania opponent, and dropped the Undertaker with a spine-buster. “The Animal” left his challenger in the ring, allowing Cena and Michaels to hit their finishers, and pin The Undertaker. By the time Wrestlemania 23 came around, the rivalry between ‘Taker and Batista had become white hot. Batista would ultimately lose the first clash of the titans, as The Undertaker put Batista away with the Tombstone Piledriver. The second match between the two took place at the next Pay Per View event, Backlash, when the two colossal beings squared off in a Last Man Standing match. The epic collision came to a conclusion when Batista speared The Undertaker off of the stage, and sent both superstars crashing to the floor below. Neither man would be able to answer the count of 10, and The Undertaker retained the title. The Animal would go into a hibernation period after that match, failing to claim the title against the likes of Edge and The Great Khali, and the Undertaker went away for a bit. Batista finally wake up at 2007’s Unforgiven Pay Per View, defeating The Great Khali and Rey Mysterio in a triple threat match, and becoming a 3 time World Heavyweight Chanpion. On the same night, The Undertaker made his return to the ring, setting up a third showdown between the two. This one took place at Cyber Sunday, with referee Stone Cold Steve Austin in charge of the match. After two big Batista Bombs, Batista put “The Deadman” away for the first time, retaining his title in the process. The second leg of the rivalry continued when the two met in a Hell In A Cell Match, at Survivor Series. During the match, Edge interfered, and hit a con-chair-to on The Undertaker. Edge then dragged an unconscious Batista over The Undertaker, allowing Batista to retain the title once again. The interference set up a triple threat match between the trio at Armageddon in December. The end of the match came when The Undertaker Tombstoned Batista, and Edge smacked ‘Taker with a chair shot to the back, while “The Deadman” covered Batista. The chair shot allowed Edge to cover Batista, and The Animal became a former champion once again. Batista and The Undertaker won an award together, earning that years PWI Feud of the Year. The two big men wouldn’t meet again until 2009, in a chairs match, at that years TLC event. Squaring off once again for the World Heavyweight Championship, Batista initially won the match, after a low blow, and a chair shot to The Undertaker. Smackdown General Manager Theodore Long restarted the match, allowing ‘Taker to retain the title. This would mark the final time Batista and The Undertaker engaged in battle.
Batista would cut a wheelchair bound promo in 2010, and quit the company, going on to have an on again, off again relationship with WWE. During his first return in 2013, Batista won the Royal Rumble, setting up a one on one match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania. Although Batista returned as a face, he turned heel, due to the crowds reaction to him winning the Rumble. He began colluding with the leader of The Authority faction, Triple H, in an attempt to stop Daniel Bryan from winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Once The Authority had been toppled by Bryan, in what would turn into a triple threat main event at Wrestlemania 30, The Authority spun off into the return of Evolution. Batista, who wanted a one on one match for the title at Wrestlemania, would be promised an opportunity to have the match, if he helped Triple H get rid of The Shield. Batista would never get what Triple H promised him, and “The Animal” quit the company again. At 2018’s Smackdown 1,000 event, Batista made his second return to WWE, reuniting with his former Evolution stable mates once again. Things started off cordial between everyone, but before the segment ended, Batista hit HHH with the cold hard truth, teasing HHH about never beating him. “The Game” initially declined a match, and this lead to Batista taking things one step further. On the February 25, 2019 edition of Raw, during the celebration of Ric Flairs’ 70th birthday, Batista attacked “The Nature Boy”, sending a clear and direct message to HHH. Two weeks later, “The Animal” and “The Game” faced off on Raw, with Batista vowing to end his career on his own terms, in a match against HHH. “The Game” accepted the challenge, but not before adding a No Holds Barred stipulation. Two weeks before Wrestlemania 35, Batista forced HHH to accept an added stipulation to the match, wanting HHH to put his career on the line. Hunter accepted the match, and at Wrestlemania, the epic rivalry came to an end. HHH won the match, after Ric Flair interfered, allowing “The Game” to put Batista away with the Pedigree. “The Animal” retired from professional wrestling the next day, and in 2020, the four time World Heavyweight Champion, and two time WWE Champion, became a member of the WWE Hall Of Fame.
How It Started
How It Ended
Wow, what a memorable career for Batista! Feel free to leave your thoughts on Batista in the comments below, and share some of your favorite moments from the career of “The Animal”. Join me right here next Thursday, as I take a look at the way things started and ended for the “Best In The World” CM Punk. You can catch that edition of the column, and more, right here on Rajah.Com