Thursday, June 5, 2014

Blame The WWE For Batista's Failed Return To The Company

Everyone can agree the Dave Batista’s return can only be classed as a major failure. If you didn’t see this coming you really should have. In the build to his return he was made to seem a much bigger deal than he actually was. There was talk that WWE had planned his return as more of a surprise and not how they ended up doing it. Regardless of that fact, it was doomed to fail based on a couple of factors.

First and foremost was the WWE over estimated the level of star Batista was. He was always a guy in my opinion that was carried more often than not by the people he worked with. WWE viewed him as an “A” level star and he clearly wasn’t.

His debut was weak and being friends with the biggest heel in Triple H was not exactly the way to make a top babyface talent. WWE fans already had picked their top babyface and it wasn’t Batista and it wasn’t John Cena. It was of course Daniel Bryan who had been the chosen one for quite sometime.

WWE unwillingness to put Bryan over and forcing Batista down the throats of the audience came to a head at the WWE Royal Rumble. It caused the WWE to change course and the plan for Bautista was dead and eventually so was his ill fated babyface run.

His in ring work was terrible when he first returned. He would limp his way to Wrestlemania 30 as part of the now three-way match that ended up being Daniel Bryan along with Randy Orton. He would be the man to take the fall to Daniel Bryan.

He would move on to the reformation of Evolution and would like in the past be carried by five superior talents to create two solid three on three match-ups and than it was over.  It was one of the worst return runs in terms of the dollars spent to return that was gotten from it in WWE history.

I don’t put a lot of blame on Batista and in fact think if he doesn’t come back, I wouldn’t blame him in the slightest. He is off to promote his movie "Guardians of the Galaxy" as was always planned. In the end the WWE screwed this up and they made one of their most typical mistakes at the core of this.

They saw a former star that was going to be in a main stream motion picture for big movies franchise like Marvel Comics and so this as a way to gain mainstream attention. They promised him the moon and the stars to come back. At the time they figured the Daniel Bryan fad would eventually die off and they could make Dave the champion and parade around with their championship getting that "oh so important" main stream attention.

They also saw him as mentioned as a higher level star than he really was and fans did not embrace him as such. He was not the big draw that he was expected to be.

I would like to think the WWE has learned from this experience but I will sit on the sidelines and wait to see if they actually have. The days of going to the well and being bailed out are coming to a close. The well has all but dried up at this point for them. Brock Lesnar is perhaps the lone exception to that, but even given the salary he is paid for the amount of dates he performs I am not sure how cost effective it is.

The time has come to create this era’s stars and count on them to build and grow the brand back to a level closer to the glory days. I am not saying having returning stars isn’t something they can do but in the right context. The way that Wrestlemania 30 started with that iconic moment with Austin, Rock and Hulk Hogan sharing a ring was fantastic. It was however just a moment and did not involve anyone being involved in matches or storylines. It was just that nice nod to the past of this great company.

There is only one match with a legend vs. a current star that I see as possible at this point and it would be CM Punk against Steve Austin. I would say not only is it possible it may be required for Wrestlemania 32 if they plan on heading to the Dallas Cowboys stadium and filling it.

This currently seems so unlikely with Punk himself declaring himself retired and Austin seeming to have little interest in an in ring return. But to suggest a Goldberg, Sting or any other old dinosaur you care to bring back from the dead would draw I see it as being out of touch with things. The match with the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar was a harsh look at what happens when you go past your expiry date in the ring. The Undertaker is one of the most respected people in the history of this company but to watch him stumble his way through that match with as we learned a severe concussion was sad to watch. His streak ending overshadowed the fact that he had no business being in the ring in his condition at that stage.

It is so hard to accept when sports legends skills lose the battle with father time. Even harder when wrestlers who have tricks,smoke and mirrors suddenly are exposed as normal humans like you and me.

WWE has spend a lot of money in all of their developmental aspects and it is time to have faith in that money spent and create a new generation of stars and let them shine. That should be the lesson for the WWE coming off the whole failed Batista run they have learned.

Why am I not confident that they have learned much of anything from it? History, which they constantly seem to try to go back too with diminishing results of success as their go to answer to problems as this magical fix.  You want to use history for something WWE, how about for promoting your network. That is the place to do it not in the ring with the current roster today.

If anything has been made clear by the WWE audience in the last 2-3 years they want change. They want change yesterday and they still haven’t got it. CM Punk and his rise to stardom was all about a man that wanted change and an audience that embraced that man and said so do we. Punk is gone and the audience remains with that same desire for change.