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Hughes: WWE blows Batista's return

| Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, 12:31 a.m.

Word leaked out earlier this week that multi-time WWE and World champion Batista will be returning to the WWE.

And while this is huge news for the company, word is that the company wanted to keep his return a secret so that he would be a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble, which takes place in Pittsburgh, but he was mentioned in the press release for the Elimination Chamber PPV in Las Vegas in February.

Those on the inside said that Vince McMahon was beyond fuming, and understandably so.

Because of the leaked information, the WWE quickly put together a snippet of footage on the former six-time champion that aired this past Monday.

Batista will debut on the Jan. 20 edition of Raw, which is the go-home show before the Rumble.

His contract is a short-term deal and will run past Mania.

Rumble surprises

Speaking of the Rumble, there is talk that both Sheamus and Chris Jericho will participate, possibly as surprise entrants.

Another name floating around is NXT wrestler and Pittsburgh native Corey Graves, formerly known locally as Sterling James Keenan.

Graves mentioned the Rumble being “home in Pittsburgh” and it would be a great moment for him if he were to take part in the Rumble.

The show is a near-sellout and only limited seats remain.

Bad numbers for WWE

In the weeks leading up to the Survivor Series last month, I shared the opinion that the show felt like just another WWE pay-per-view instead of one of the WWE's annual “Big Four” shows along with the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, and SummerSlam.

According to the early buy rate, WWE fans felt the same way.

The show drew 179,000 buys, by far the lowest amount in the last 10 years.

In fact, the next lowest amount during that timeframe was last year's 208,000 with the highest being 400,000 in 2005.

While the PPV numbers are not available dating back prior to the company going public in 2000, this year's sales are said to be the lowest since the early-1990s.

A few years ago, Vince McMahon had toyed with the idea of replacing the show with a new event.

Don't be surprised if it happens in 2014.

A Mania first

The 16th installment of WrestleMania was unique for two reasons.

First off, it was the first, and only, Mania to break the use of chronological order for the show.

Instead of being named Mania XVI, it was titled Mania 2000.

The other unique tidbit is that there was not a single one-on-one match on the card.

There were tag matches, triple threat matches, and the main event was a four-way for the WWE title, but amazingly it lacked a normal singles bout.

In the main event, Triple H became only the third WWE champion to retain the prestigious title as he outlasted the Rock, Big Show, and Mick Foley.

The first two WWE champions to retain at Mania?

Hulk Hogan who did it at both Mania 2 and III and Diesel who did it at XI.

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