Just under five years ago, a rather comedic wave brought the end of an era. Evolution had been vanquished by their younger counterparts and after a polarizing comeback stint, Batista was now once again bidding farewell. Just like in his prior departure four years earlier, this was far from a short-lived move too. In fact, Batista’s first exit kept him away for over three years but even still, timing would hinder his eventual return. Last seen as a bitter, vengeful villain, Batista re-emerged as a babyface and one with a rather obvious future too.
WrestleMania was fast approaching and unsurprisingly, Batista’s main event ticket was soon booked, winning the Royal Rumble in infamous fashion. The victim of Daniel Bryan’s unmatched momentum, Batista’s victory took the brunt of fans’ disappointment and as a result, a trend emerged. Suddenly the show’s biggest villain, Batista was showered with boos and thankfully, soon returned to his prior portrayal in response. A heel once more, Batista began to thrive again and closed out his run in far more fulfilling fashion.
In the end, Batista’s presence had elevated Bryan’s journey and allowed for a greater pay-off too. The Evolution reunion felt fitting also, an ideal final chapter if this was indeed Batista’s final stand. With that being said, his aforementioned wave good-bye certainly ignited a larger conversation. For a handful of years, Batista’s stature was undeniable, one of the industry’s most popular stars and a creative focal point as well. Moreover, Batista’s charisma made his position hard to debate and in the meanwhile, he’d evolved into a rather consistent big match performer along the way.
However, none of that prevented fans from rapidly turning on Batista and though the reasoning may have been layered, that element was hard to ignore. An obvious hall of famer, Batista departed under disappointing circumstances, mistreated by the fans that had watched him rise only a decade earlier. As is so often the case though, absence only makes the heart grow fonder and while Batista achieved great heights outside of the wrestling world, his legacy rightly heightened over time.
During that time, mostly positive discussion surrounded a potential return as the man himself publicly pointed to his ideal scenario. Since truly arriving on the major wrestling stage, Batista has been forever linked with Triple H and in his mind, that clash was the clear story to tell. Hoping to play the villain again, Batista viewed Triple H as the most fitting foe and in October 2018, that debated direction would finally take shape. After over four years away, Batista returned for SmackDown’s 1000th episode, standing alongside his Evolution cohorts one final time.
While simple in format, the segment felt like a pivotal one. Not only did it briefly lay the groundwork for what’s followed but more than that, Batista had a moment that frankly, was long overdue. Receiving a hero’s welcome, Batista had one night to embrace the crowd’s love, mutual gratification for moments they’d shared an era ago. For Batista and his fans, this was redemption in some ways, closure after the famed narrative and negativity that had surrounded his prior wrestling chapter.
The complete closure was still to come though and with the Road to WrestleMania firmly underway, it was now time for Batista’s path to emerge. Unforgettably ruining Ric Flair’s 70th birthday party, Batista was back and more importantly, he had Triple H in his sights. Since then things have only become clearer, with the pair’s past being highlighted again, as Batista embraces arguably his most vicious incarnation yet. As has been the case before, there’s truth to this character’s motive and that only makes his resentment more powerful.
With history, star power and a No Holds Barred stipulation, this match is yet another marquee WrestleMania clash. Historically though, this particular encounter feels rather unique. Its importance to both participants is clear and a recent on-screen claim encapsulated its part in this famed story. After finally being granted his match with Triple H, Batista spoke in earnest, remarkably symbolizing its importance both on-screen and off.
“This is all I’ve ever wanted. That one last match to end my career on my terms, and that one last match to end your career on my terms.”
In a vacuum, this programme has actually been rather brief but in my view, that one quote was the only follow-up necessary after its February starting point. Like all good promos should, it neatly furthered the match in question but its overall significance couldn’t be captured better either. For Batista, this really is the closure that he’s been dead-set on for years, the finale that in his mind, completes this journey on his terms. Ideally, the final result will be everything that fans and the men involved are hoping for.
Either way, with the 3 count at WrestleMania, the dust will finally settle. After first signing with WWE almost two decades ago, Batista quickly emerged as one of his era’s strongest stars. He then evolved, becoming a villain once more and completing his main stint with a quite brilliant heel run. During that time, the perception surrounding Batista changed with regularity and that was no different in his relatively brief 2014 comeback spell. When all was said and done, his impact and resume still spoke for itself but in truth, his story felt incomplete.
That changes at MetLife Stadium though, with Batista reigniting his storied past opposite a rare career constant: friend and foe Triple H. Whether it’ll be the send-off that the man himself has in mind, well that’s still unclear but for now, this moment is worth admiring. After all, this possibility seemed slim at times, but it’s now suddenly just days away. Closure for Batista and his fans, a chance to at long last, end things on his terms.