Batista return could be beneficial, if done correctly
By Justin LaBar
Published: Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, 9:42 p.m.
Another wrestler over 40 making a return to the ring — it must be WrestleMania season.
The latest name rumored to be returning soon is Batista.
I expect WWE to promote his return similar to how it did with Rob Van Dam in July. There is no point, especially with the rumor of his return being public, of having Batista make his return at in a surprise situation.
If the people don't know he's going to be there, you can't make money off it. Advertise he's returning at Royal Rumble or the night after.
It was the same situation when Kevin Nash returned at the Royal Rumble in 2011. He was just hours removed from getting out of his TNA contract. WWE wanted him to return as Diesel. His philosophy was he can't help the buys of the pay-per-view if people aren't thinking or expecting him. Needless to say, with cameras following us, Nash and I had a fun video conversation in the Boston airport that went viral. It provided the exact buzz he wanted and the pay-per-view made good money.
Batista will get a babyface reaction as anyone does when they make a return. That needs to quickly be done away with if not the night he returns, then shortly thereafter. Batista NEEDS to be a heel.
WWE has a good pool of babyfaces: John Cena, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Big E. Langston, Big Show, Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, Xavier Woods. It lacks credible heels, and Batista is credible.
Batista shouldn't be put in any novelty match at WrestleMania with another part-time talent or an established main event name. He needs to work with a younger babyface.
Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler come to mind. I could see WWE's logic of Sheamus, who is expected to return also around Rumble, needing to regain relevancy as he's been out since the summer with injury. He and Batista would be a physical match. However, I don't know how many fans will buy into it, and I think Sheamus is a babyface they don't need. Turn him back to heel as the big, tough, nasty Irish fighter.
Ziggler would have a fantastic match with Batista. With Batista's power, combined with Ziggler's athletic ability and art of being able to sell, would make an entertaining contest. Anything with Ziggler mentioned in it has to be taken with heavy consideration as he seems to have fallen out of favor with the decision makers. WWE isn't going to put Batista against anyone it doesn't care about.
Bryan, Punk and Cena are all guys who don't need an opponent such as Batista. Plus, I think all of them will be occupied with other booking plans for WrestleMania.
I don't think this run is just for WrestleMania. I think it will be similar to Chris Jericho two years ago. Come back in January and hang around until SummerSlam. This could allow for some time to put Batista up against an established name, but not at WrestleMania. Make a new star at WrestleMania. Batista versus a Bryan or Punk could be beneficial after WrestleMania to headline a May or June pay-per-view.
Batista has to be the heel he was in 2010 as he finished up with WWE before leaving. It was his most successful heel run in a feud with John Cena. The white hat, the glasses, the dress clothes. He had a swagger of obnoxiousness to him. It was as if he was dressing up and portraying Kanye West.
How about Titus O'Neil for an opponent?
He's the kind of face who would truly benefit from working a high-profile match with Batista. O'Neil has a ton of potential, and it seems the Prime Time Players tag team has gone as far as it's going to go.
In interviews, one specifically with me, O'Neil has credited Batista as the person who helped get him broken into the business. It would make a lot of sense.
Imagine Batista's hyped return. He's in the Rumble, and he gets eliminated by O'Neil. The next episode of RAW or SmackDown, Batista sneak attacks O'Neil and beats the snot out of him. He follows it up with an intense heel promo. You're off and running with a feud. Batista comes back, makes money and gets to help get a friend of his over.
Sounds like a smart kind of business deal a 44-year-old veteran would make, especially one who was brought up by Triple H and Ric Flair.
Justin LaBar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. His pro wrestling column runs Monday and Friday.
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