Nick: I am watching a documentary from the Life of Mammals series on Netflix. It’s the episode The Return to Water, they are talking about otters.
Dave: Pretty adorable stuff.
Nick: No hippos eating zebras. Yet. But we’ll get there. Hippos are monsters.
Dave: Isn’t it kind of weird how one of the top attractions of nature shows is watching animals kill each other?
Nick: Not for my girlfriend. She loves the baby animal stuff. Which, I really want to see them get eaten.
Dave: I’m sure as a person with a girlfriend you’re familiar with the show Too Cute on Animal Planet.
Dave: Haha. Luckily Erica hates cats, and we only have to watch it when it’s puppies. So, 50% of the time.
Nick: Yeah, it’s what happens because I make her watch wrestling.
Dave: Yeah, exactly. Same reason I know A LOT more than the average guy about the show Scandal. (Meaning I know anything beyond “Hey, isn’t that Scarface from Half Baked!?”)
Nick: It was especially bad during the first half of the first segment of Raw last week. Until Batista came in, at least. Stephanie is not a good actress, and Triple H wants to say “Man up you, [generic mildly homphobic slur]” during those promos so bad.
Dave: Yeah, and I know I’m not even the millionth person on the internet to say this, but it was an awful idea for Batista to come back and instantly smiley smile and shake hands with The Authority. It’s utterly Vince Russo to sow seeds for a swervy heel turn of a returning star the very second he returns as a glorious, huge-pop-getting babyface.
Nick: Are they supposed to be heels or faces? I’m one of the few who will root for them no matter what, I just want them to pick a side.
Dave: See, I think that’s exactly what they’re going for. They want hardcore WWE fans to love their act so they can ride it for years and just keep the heat on themselves and only have to make half as many stars.
Nick: I like Crazy Randy Orton, and I prefer Heel Batista, so some sort of screw job at the Royal Rumble would be great.
Dave: I’m a huge fan of Batista’s (go tell my 2006 self I would ever say that, I dare you!), but I really hope we get more out of this run than Batista-Orton, Batista-Cena, Batista-H. Because that was basically 4 years of WWE television right there. So, personally, I want him nowhere near Orton.
Nick: I am less concerned with them getting involved with each other, because money. As long as they don’t stay involved with each other. I am interested in seeing him expand on his earlier stuff, and make some cool hyrbid versions of previous characters, but against people like Lesnar or del Rio or Punk.
Dave: Yeah, definitely. Him and Lesnar is a pretty spectacular matchup.
Nick: He has what Warrior never had: the ability to change and adapt.
Dave: And I think you nailed Del Rio as a guy who could really be elevated to that top level by feuding with Batista.
Nick: I think what people miss is that fans always like seeing guys who were famous ten years ago. This has never not been the way wrestling worked, but there also used to be more companies.
Dave: Oh yeah, absolutely. Nostalgia has always been crazy profitable, and as you say, in a one-company system, it’s harder to pop business by bringing in a new guy, so the easier way to do things is for bring back a former top star.
Nick: And, if possible, have them put over a few people.
Dave: The Chris Jericho. Haha.
Nick: Yeah, that’s the Platonic ideal of the situation. I don’t know if Batista has that in him, but I wouldn’t be *surprised* if he did.
Dave: Nor I. In the last year or two of his main run, he got really, really smart about the business. In a five year span, he went from being like The Warrior or Goldberg to being really savvy with the way he worked feuds.
Nick: He understands his character without being his character. Goldberg and Warrior ARE their character. Very literally. I also think there’s something to be said for how he was brought into the world.
Dave: As a stooge for Devon?
Nick: Well, no, after that. With Evolution.
Dave: You’re right. He was rubbing shoulders with Flair and Hunter, who are both marks for their characters, but also understood how the business works.
Nick: I’m interested in seeing how he retires. In the sense that I wonder if it’s going to be putting someone over, or, you know, an injury.
Dave: I see him as a guy who would go out putting someone over, but it wouldn’t be anybody new. It would be Rey or Hunter or Cena.
Nick: Not even Sheamus? I would assume he and Hunter have already figure out how to get Dave in on their workout sets.
Dave: I would put down Sheamus to the closest thing to a “new guy” Batista would put over. I’m sure there are people getting creepily excited about the idea of him putting over Reigns or something, but I think they’ll have a moment of staring each other down in the Rumble followed by Batista eliminating him and that’s that.
Nick: I’m almost okay with that, because Sheamus is, to me, a much more natural successor to Batista than Reigns would be. Despite being only like 5 years younger than him.
Dave: I’m still far from sold on Reigns as a potential main event star, but I think to many internet wrestling fan types it’s a “natural matchup” because they’re both big guys with similar skin tones. I mostly brought up Reigns’ name because of the weird obsession people suddenly have with him.
Nick: I think it’s because this run reminds some people on some level of Batista’s run to WrestleMania 21. But Ambrose and Rollins ain’t Natch and Haitch.
Dave: Yeah, and Batista was such a badass enforcer that he basically beat people up in the way The Shield collectively beats people up. They built up his intensity to this point where when he turned, fans loved it because they knew he was going to tear apart the smug heels.
Nick: Now, I’m mostly concerned that he doesn’t tear an ab muscle. Speaking of which, do you think he wins on Sunday?
Dave: Honestly, I’m torn. It’s “obvious” in a good way (meaning logical) to give the guy with the big return the win, but on the other hand, WWE sometimes avoids doing the obvious thing (even when it’s good) out of fear of being predictable. And, like I said earlier, I think they can do better than Batista-Orton at Wrestlemania.
He’d be more money/entertaining in a special attraction like facing Undertaker or Lesnar.
Nick: I’m actually most interested in a Punk-Batista match up. I doubt it will happen, but it’s the potential feud I’m most interested in.
Dave: Heel Punk-Babyface Batista would be great. But, right now, they are both faces, and I really resent when they hotshot a bunch of title changes and turns between the Rumble and Mania.
Nick: I can’t imagine them switching the title between now and Mania, if only because they’d have to make new little tokens to go in the WWE Title
Dave: I wonder if you get one of the really expensive replica titles you can also buy the little biscuits to go in the sides as new guys become champion. Seriously, though, it’s crazy to think we’re even talking about Batista and the title considering how much the WWE has changed since he left. So, here’s my question: What’s Batista’s legacy/your evaluation of his career pre-comeback? If he had never done this, where would he rank on the leaderboard?
Nick: For me, he’s between Hogan and Warrior. Hogan is an entity unto himself. He’s the transcendent figure of professional wrestling. But, as an archetype, Batista is closer, to me, than it seems people think. He had a very short run, relatively speaking, but a few truly great moments and storylines. As the conquering hero/douche bag.
Dave: I don’t totally agree, but I know what you mean. There were way too many champions with way too many title reigns between 1997 and 2010, but when I look at Batista, I say to myself, “There is a guy who would have made it to the top and been a champion in any era.” He’s a guy with an off-the-charts look who could cut good promos and have solid main event matches that, even when not expertly worked from an athletic standpoint, told good stories.
Nick: And seems, at least, to be not nearly as crazy or egomaniac as a lot of guys in his position. He’s an egomaniac, for sure, but not a Hogan Knows Best, changing your legal name type of guy.
Dave: I like the idea of him being “Mr. The Animal” like “Mr. Warrior.”
Nick: Just don’t call him late for dinner!
…. I’ll see myself out.