The Magnificent Seven 2.02.14: The Top 7 Batista Moments
Posted by Mike Chin on 02.02.2014
From challenging The Undertaker’s Streak and decimating Shawn Michaels to leaving Evolution and more, 411's Mike Chin counts down the top seven moments of Batista's WWE career.
The Royal Rumble has come and gone and, as predicted, Batista walked out the winner. Many, including myself, were disappointed with this outcome. Batista is an archetypal WWE main eventer in many less than positive ways—a big musclehead with some charisma and a limited move set—in contrast to CM Punk, or, all the more so, Daniel Bryan, who many of us uppity fan people were hoping to see win the Rumble.
It's easy to demonize someone we didn't want to see win, but I do also feel that there's value in giving The Animal his due and recognizing those moments when he exceeded his own (real or perceived) limitations and actually provided some entertaining, electrifying, or otherwise quality moments.
Please note: This is not a countdown of Batista's greatest accomplishments or best matches (though there may be some overlap). This list is all about moments that suggested perhaps we, the fans, should have faith in the big guy.
#7. Escaping the Punjabi Prison
When word came out that The Great Khali would face Batista in a Punjabi Prison Match at No Mercy 2007, I don't think anyone set their expectations all that high. To be fair, I'd be pretty generous to give the resulting match three stars, but the match's climax did feature one spectacular moment. For those who don't recall, the Punjabi Prison is a double bamboo cage where competitors can exit the inner cage via one of four doors that can each only open once, or by scaling over the top of it. From there, there is a second larger cage which the winner has to climb over and have his feet hit the floor first to win the match.
In this encounter, Khali had Batista beaten down, had made his way out of the first cage, and started up the second cage with Batista still down on the mat and no doors left in play. It was an unusual moment, because no one really expected Khali to win at the time and yet, little by little, his advantage seemed insurmountable.
But Batista got up.
He got and he climbed like a mad man, getting over the top of the first cage while Khali was only halfway up the second. Then after a moment's pause, he jumped, clearing the chasm between cages with greater agility than we'd ever seen from the big man. One of JBL's favorite phrasings is to suggest that a performer need to wrestle like he's in someone else's body—this was the first time I recall hearing him say it, and it was perfectly apropos. Seconds later, Batista was over the top of the second cage, and seconds after that he dropped down ahead of Khali to retain his world title.
#6. Putting the Dead Man in the Ground
Sometimes, an unlikely pairing demonstrates remarkable chemistry—such was the case for the big man wars between ‘Taker and Batista in 2007. The Undertaker beat Batista at Wrestlemania after which point they wrestled to two draws. They rekindled their rivalry that fall at Cyber Sunday. Batista dropped Undertaker with a thundering Batista Bomb—but it was only good enough for a two count. Unlike countless weary performers before him, Batista was not intimidated by The Phenom's refusal to stay down. Instead, he got angry. Shoulders heaving, Batista demanded that ‘Taker get up, then demolished him with another Batista bomb to pick up a rare, clean-as-a-sheet pinfall victory over The Dead Man.
#5. I Don't Love You and I Am Not Sorry
"I'm sorry. I love you."
These simple words precede Shawn Michaels's career-ending superkick against Ric Flair at Wrestlemania 24, offering fans one of the most beautiful, iconic moments in pro wrestling history. These conflicted words, and the decision to KO Flair in a match that would force his retirement, would launch several months of feuds for Michaels against Batista and Chris Jericho.
The Batista segment of HBK's feud culminated at One Night Stand 2008 in a Stretcher Match. Batista positively decimated Michaels, leading up to this moment, not as iconic as the one at ‘Mania, but every bit as poetic for using Michaels's words against him, arguably serving up justice, and completely embodying Batista's rage, when he drags Michaels to his feet, stares him in the eye and says, "Just so you know, I don't love you and I'm not sorry." A Batista Bomb later, Michaels was unconscious and easy prey for Batista to load on a stretcher and wheel past the line for the big win.
#4. Challenging the Streak
Though it would turn out that Wrestlemania 23 was only the start of a lengthy feud between Batista and The Undertaker, that doesn't take a thing away from just how excellent this match was. In a ‘Mania that sold on The Battle of the Billonaires, that saw numerous main event talents squeezed into Money in the Bank, and that placed John Cena-Shawn Michaels in the main event, Batista-‘Taker was a bit of an afterthought. The two big men would not abide that, turning in a wild back-and-forth brawl that included an awesome powerslam spot through the announce table.
No, Batista did not beat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, but he did take The Phenom to the limit, and offer up one of the best chapters in the story of The Streak.
#3. I'm Gonna Rip Your Head Off
Bragging Rights 2009 saw a Fatal Four-way between Batista, CM Punk, Rey Mysterio, and the reigning World Heavyweight Champion The Undertaker. In the matches final movements, Batista grew dominant, taking out Punk, then flinging Mysterio out of the ring on top of him—only to turn around into a Tombstone.
Batista and Mysterio had played best buddies for years. In a post-match interview, Mysterio seemed to reflect on the bout as friendly competition. Batista, however, was livid that his friend had cost him a title win. To quote The Beast, "I'm gonna rip your head off." The great thing about seeing a guy like Batista make a claim like that is that he has every bit the strength and pent-up rage to make the threat literally viable. The beat down to follow isn't tremendously well developed, but does present a nice piece of storytelling for both the logical and the sudden nature of The Animal going heel, all at once turning the main event scene on its head.
#2. The Destruction of Edge
The date was Monday, June 30, 2008. The brand split was still on and, in an unlikely turn of events, after the draft and Night of Champions, the Raw brand no longer had a world champion on its roster. In perfect dick heel fashion, Edge came out at the top of the show to address the crowd. One night earlier, The Rated-R Superstar had retained his World Heavyweight Championship against Batista via nefarious means, and on this night he wasn't there to fight—just to gloat at the Raw brand's expense.
As Edge gave the live crowd final a salute at the top of the entrance ramp, Batista's music hit. The Animal appeared, bare-chested and in blue jeans. He wasn't going to get a rematch and it was clear that that didn't matter. He was there to seek and destroy. Over the course of the three minutes to follow, Batista delivered one of the most righteous, badass, and one-sided beatings in WWE history, culminating in a massive Batista Bomb. While this TV segment is probably best remembered for the two minutes to follow, during which CM Punk cashed in his first Money in the Bank briefcase for his first world title reign, the sight of the enraged Animal and the assault to follow are more than worthy of recognition in their own right.
#1. Thumbs Down
Most picks on this list have been heavily influence by personal opinion, but I defy anyone to name a more electric moment in Batista's career than the point at which he walked away from Evolution in favor of challenging Triple H at Wrestlemania.
The story of this moment begins the night after SummerSlam 2004. Randy Orton had just won his first world championship, and to celebrate, Big Dave lifted Randall up on his shoulders. Triple H gave him the thumbs up—then the thumbs down. Batista proceeded to nail Orton with the electric chair, and the mauling to follow officially removed Orton from Evolution.
Fast forward five months and Batista had been teasing a face turn for weeks, to the point that he was more or less treated as a face when he won the 2005 Royal Rumble. His stablemates, Triple H and Ric Flair encouraged him to use his Wrestlemania title shot to jump to Smackdown and face off with JBL. In the main event segment of Raw, Batista had the option to sign a contract for the championship match of his choice. He drops the Raw contract and seems ready jump ship. Triple H and Flair flash him thumbs up signs. Batista returns the gesture—then turns the thumb down. In the moments to follow, he decks both of his former allies, tosses The Nature Boy from the Ring, and powerbombs Trips through a table to complete the face turn and set in stone his first Wrestlemania main event, squaring off against The Game.
Those are my top seven Batista moments. What did I miss? And what do you think of The Animal? Speak your mind in the comments. See you in seven.
Read stories and miscellaneous criticism from Mike Chin at his website and his thoughts on a cappella music at The A Cappella Blog.