Basketballs don’t hold grudges but Batista still holds one with WWE from his 2014 return to the company.
After a four-year hiatus from WWE, The Animal returned in January 2014 to set up a main event storyline heading into Wrestlemania XXX. Batista notched his second Royal Rumble victory — in his first match since losing to John Cena in an I Quit Match at Over The Limit — and prepared for a WWE title match against Randy Orton.
However, Batista’s return coincided with Daniel Bryan’s meteoric rise in popularity and the YES! movement forced WWE to scrap their original plans. Bryan was inserted into the main event, making it a triple threat bout against Orton and Batista for the WWE championship. Bryan won the title and Batista moved on to reform the popular stable Evolution with Orton and Triple H.
Evolution feuded with The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins) following Wrestlemania, losing to the Hounds of Justice at Extreme Rules 2014. But after that match, Batista says his frustration with WWE continued.
“They wanted me to stay that extra month and work with Daniel Bryan at another pay-per-view, but I just thought that didn’t even make sense,” Batista said to Daily Dead during an interview at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
“We were just starting the Evolution thing, so why couldn’t we run with that instead of me putting Daniel over again, which I just did at WrestleMania? We’re not going to have a better match there than we did at Mania. Let’s just work more with Evolution and build these guys up. So we did. Then right after we built the hell out of them and they were so strong as a unit, they broke them all up. I said, ‘What is wrong with you guys?’
Batista has not returned to the WWE since his last departure and it seems that won’t change anytime soon. The Guardians of the Galaxy actor said he wanted to return at SummerSlam that year to capitalize on the success of that movie. Per Box Office Mojo, Guardians of the Galaxy grossed over $773 million at the box office worldwide and is the third highest-grossing film in the Marvel history, behind The Avengers and Iron Man 3 ( via Deadline).
The WWE, however, wasn’t as optimistic about the success of the film.
“Wouldn’t it be great if I came back right when I’m also in the biggest film in the world?” Batista recalled asking in a conversation with WWE brass. “Literally, it was Hunter [Triple H] and Stephanie [McMahon] who laughed at me, and Hunter goes, “We don’t even know if it’s going to be any good.” I swear to God.”
Now, the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy is set for release this May.
With an established career in Hollywood at 48 years old, Batista is in a situation where a return to WWE would be out of passion, not necessity. The six-time WWE champion told MLW Radio’s Writers Room last year that if he ever returned, he’d make sure WWE “had a plan and stuck to it and I’d hold them accountable for what they promised me.”
While some point the finger at Batista for his lackluster run, he holds the company responsible for the underwhelming response, blaming their decision to bring him back as a babyface and the lack of direction.
“It was the company, man. They really just screwed me over,” Batista said. “I was banging my head against the wall every day. It’s one of those things, I wish people knew how hard I fought to be there and how hard I fought to just give them the best matches and performances that I could. But it was an everyday struggle dealing with the company. It was such a f***ing nightmare.”
[Featured Image by WWE]