“On January 20, 2014 at the EJ Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio, former WWE Superstar “The Animal” Batista makes his long-awaited WWE return on RAW …and I couldn’t care less.”
-Matt Boone, January 3, 2014
I hate to say I told you so, but …well, I told you so.
On the Royal Rumble “go-home” edition of WWE RAW, “The Animal” Batista made his “long-awaited” return to World Wrestling Entertainment. It was promoted weeks in advance, it took place on a big show, it was in front of a jam-packed audience …and you could hear crickets chirping.
To be fair, I wasn’t completely correct. Here is another quote from my pre-Batista return editorial:
“I can’t come up with too many scenarios that excites me about Batista’s return. He’ll get the big initial pop, everyone will be excited to see him again, and then he’ll open his mouth. Again, I know this sounds negative, but at that point, it’s all down hill from there.”
I was dead wrong.
The one thing I thought Batista’s return had going for it was the big initial pop. I figured with weeks of hype from the big promotional machine, he was guaranteed at least that much. In hindsight, I guess the only way to ensure a mega-pop is to surprise the audience. Had the information not leaked out ahead of time, forcing WWE to run with the idea of building up his return instead of surprising fans with it, maybe then the roof would have been blown off the EJ Nutter Center.
If you’re WWE you have to get the most out of a situation like that. You’re a business first and foremost. In most cases, WWE will sacrifice potential ratings boosts and pay-per-view buys by wasting returns simply to get that “surprise pop” reaction. This time they went the other way. Sure, they were forced to, but they did nevertheless.
Batista’s report card will come in later today in the form of the RAW rating. With the show being the Royal Rumble “go-home” show, you would assume numbers should be up. Add in the fact that along with Batista, Brock Lesnar was advertised in advance, and the fact that Monday Night Football is no longer an obstacle, and there is literally no reason the numbers shouldn’t be impressive.
One of my favorite parts about Batista’s return on Monday night was the over-selling done by company-man JBL.
“I’ve heard standing ovations before, but nothing quite like this!”
C’mon Mr. Layfield, we’re laying it on a bit thick, no? Even WWE doesn’t agree. Coincidentally enough, they have released the options for an upcoming episode of “WWE Countdown,” a new original-series scheduled to air exclusively on the WWE Network. The poll asks the following question: “Which was the most thunderous return?” The options are: Triple H — Raw — January 7, 2002, Brock Lesnar – Raw – April 2, 2012, John Cena – Royal Rumble – January 27, 2008, Shawn Michaels – SummerSlam — August 25, 2002, Hulk Hogan – No Way Out — February 17, 2002, Chris Jericho – Raw – November 19, 2007, Bret “Hit Man” Hart – Raw – January 4, 2010, Sting – WCW Monday Nitro – January 17, 1997, The Rock – Raw – February 14, 2011, Edge – Royal Rumble – January 31, 2010.
Notice anyone missing?
I’m all for bringing back a star from the past to reinvigorate the current product. Hell, you could argue that I’m basically stuck in the 80s and 90s in terms of those that I consider true “Superstars.” Anytime Jake “The Snake” Roberts or “Rowdy” Roddy Piper turn up at an “Old School RAW” show, or something similar, I’m all about it. I look forward to the WWE-produced documentaries that chronicles the careers of past legends more than a current pay-per-view. The bottom line, however, is that “The Animal” is simply not my cup of tea. To each his own, right?
For those who enjoyed Batista’s return on Monday night, I say enjoy it. Me personally? I didn’t. As I noted above from my January 3rd editorial, I wasn’t expecting much in a Batista return. I remember the boring promos. I remember the boring matches. I remember that he is simply a body. Nothing more, nothing less. If you’re a Batista fan, I think that’s great. WWE has something for everyone. Batista just isn’t for me. We’ve seen Batista’s legendary ego already come into play in recent “Twitter wars.” Let’s hope for the sake of the business that he’s back to establish the next generation of WWE Superstars. Let’s hope he isn’t back to feed his ego. Remember how you got over in the first place and act likewise.
What did you guys think of Batista’s RAW return on Monday night? Leave your feedback in the “Comments” section below. You can also hit me up directly at Facebook.com/MattBooneWZR.