Creative Control: Tracking the Animal (Batista, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, Randy Orton)

I have come to the conclusion that Christmas on a Wednesday is the worst possible timing for someone who works typical office hours.  It is smack dab in the middle of the week and rarely does an employer provide any time off other than the day itself.  Therefore, if you want to take any time off for family, you have to burn through a vast majority of your vacation days.  When though, to take the time off?  Before, or after the holiday?  And then you are faced with the same dilemma a week later with New Years.  Even if one stays and works, it is completely unproductive as usually everyone else has taken days off, leaving it quiet and all one can think about is getting out of there.  The best day for Christmas to fall on is a Friday.  By just taking 5 vacation days, one can have an uninterrupted 11-day holiday.

What does this have to do with wrestling?  Not a blessed thing.  This was just some of my musings as I sat in my quiet office trying to focus on my work as the clock seemed to tick backwards on Christmas Eve.

Also, congratulations to the referees of the Bears/Packers game yesterday and their lopsided officiating.  One, that was not roughing the passer.  Two, that was not a fumble, that was an incomplete pass as Rogers clearly still had his hand on the ball as he started his forward motion.  Not that I’m bitter.

Second Thoughts:

There was no real discussion coming from last week’s column regarding my plan for disbanding the Shield.  One reader liked the plan of having Rollins come out on top to avoid him getting lost in the shuffle.  The rest of the comments were a debate over whether or not the use of a WHAM reference was either brilliant or pathetic (per the comment counts, it’s currently at a tie). Therefore, nothing more is needed to discuss on that matter.

Batista Hunter

The big news to come out of the world of WWE last week was the confirmation that Dave Batista is returning.  He will premiere on the last Raw before the Royal Rumble.  It appears the plan was originally to have him as a surprise entrant in the Rumble, but the local promoters for a house show spilled the beans.  Naturally, big news like this throws Wrestlemania XXX predictions into turmoil and I figured this was the perfect time to lay out a storyline/plan for Batista for the coming year.

If his recent tweet is any indication, Batista is coming back as a heel.  I think this is a good call as his heel persona prior to his leaving three years ago was some of his best character work.  Set up in his return promo on Raw that he is the same narcissistic loud mouth that he was when he quit.  Have his ego more inflated given his run in movies (even if it was one minor role in a mediocre martial arts flick) and MMA (where he failed).  He should go on to note he came back because while even though the fans don’t deserve him, he could not take watching WWE anymore and seeing the sorry excuse that passed for Superstars nowadays, such as the pencil-necked geeks like Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and Dolph Ziggler.  In his mind, he could waltz into the Rumble at number 1 and win it in a record breaking 35 minutes, eliminating every participant as soon as they entered the ring.

At the Rumble, Batista does shine, entering in the late teens to early twenties, eliminating several competitors in short order.  In fact, he makes it down to the final two against none other than Bryan.  The Beard goes on to eliminate the Animal and continue his storyline to regaining the title at Wrestlemania XXX.

Batista is selected as a participant in the Elimination Chamber for a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Title (along with John Cena, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, and Alberto Del Rio against champion Randy Orton).  In the lead up, Orton tries to recruit Batista to return to his “proper” role as merely an enforcer for the true Champion, much like Evolution.  Orton plays up how their roles were lined up: Flair was the past, Triple H the present, and Orton the future, with Batista as their muscle.  Well the future is now for Orton, and Batista is still just a heavy in the mind of Orton.  Obviously, Batista does not appreciate this and says as far as he’s concerned, Triple H signed Batista back to bring in a champion who can actually stand on his own two feet.  In the Chamber match itself, Batista is eliminated via a double team pulled off by Punk and Ziggler.

From this Punk and Ziggler keep up their alliance, antagonizing the Authority as laid out in my Wrestlemania XXX card.  This leads to Triple H recruiting Batista as his tag partner (instead of Kane), looking to teach the indy darling and internet crush their proper place.  Batista is more than on board for such an alliance, given the two rail thin, average joes in their underwear unfairly cost him his chance to headline Wrestlemania.  The match should still end with Triple H losing via a pinfall to Ziggler.

In the fallout from Wrestlemania, Batista decides his problem was that others cost him his obvious victories.  He was so busy beating on others in the Rumble that the little welp Bryan was able to sneak out a win over him when he was tired and distracted.  He was left to handle everyone in the Chamber while Orton cowered in a corner, waiting for someone else to do the work.  And he relied on Triple H to actually have a shred of talent left to be able to handle a couple of overvalued jobbers.  Therefore, the Animal cuts loose on his own and looks to cut a swath through every pretender Superstar on the roster before going after the biggest pretender, the newly crowned champion, Daniel Bryan.

Batista’s first target is Ziggler, whom he defeats at Extreme Rules in a Street Fight in retribution for scoring the pin at Wrestlemania.  The match should culminate with Ziggler wrapped in duct tape after trying to use it on Batista, in reference to one of Batista’s all-time greatest rants.  From there, it is on to Payback, where he faces off against the other half of his Wrestlemania opponents, Punk.  The Animal scores another victory, destroying Punk in a match similar to the Lesnar/Punk bout where despite his best efforts the Straight-Edge Superstar falls short due to the power of Batista who had spent the prior month softening him up.

With the lead-up to Money in the Bank, Batista is offered an opportunity to qualify for a place in the namesake match, but turns it down.  He notes he is so impressive and so dominant he does not need the crutch of the briefcase.  His resume will force the executives of WWE to sign him to a title match.  He does in turn cost Cena his qualifying match, which finally sets up the one-on-one confrontation between the two at Money in the Bank.  Batista even asks for an “I Quit” match, something that Cena has never lost.  He wants to prove his dominance and superiority, while also getting the ultimate revenge on Cena from four years ago.  In the match, Batista scores the victory when he has Cena tied up (with duct tape), badly beaten and has Brie Bella at his mercy.  It is the threat to his fiancée which forces Cena to quit.

During these months, Batista is conspicuous in his presence around Daniel Bryan.  He frequently appears on stage during Bryan’s matches, or will do commentary.  He is seen in the background whenever Bryan is shown backstage, stalking him.  At no point does Batista lay a finger on him.  When Bryan confronts him Batista just notes that he is biding his time, waiting for the right moment when he will destroy Bryan.  That moment will be when the stage is big enough and there are no loose ends around for Batista to worry about.

This sets the stage for SummerSlam where Daniel Bryan gives Batista what he wants, a title shot.  The champion comments that he is not only taking on the Animal to shut him up and get him out of his life, but also to avenge the way he treated his sister-in-law.  Bryan notes that he will not only beat Batista, but get his revenge on the Authority.  That it was at SummerSlam a year ago that Bryan first won the title, but was denied ending the night as champion due to underhanded tactics.  The build-up becomes intense and personal as the Animal looks to finish his climb to the top and Bryan looks to defeat his personal demon that has haunted him for a year.  In the end, Bryan is able to secure victory through a roll-up.

Infuriated by such a loss, Batista demands a rematch at Night of Champions, looking to establish his dominance and not let someone he views as not qualified as a Superstar to keep holding the belt, or have a victory over him.  Feeling that Bryan was underhanded in using a roll up, Batista has no qualms in the lead up looking to incapacitate Bryan prior to their match.  The onslaught in the coming weeks culminates with a brutal match proves to be too much and ultimately, Bryan finally loses the title he won at Wrestlemania to his longtime stalker.  In fact, after the victory, Batista decimates Bryan, taking him off television for several weeks.

From there, Batista takes on challengers and maintains his championship.  He tries to “tolerate the brats and hug the fat chicks” as required by a champion, but obviously he lacks that soft touch to pull it off.  Bryan returns in the lead-up to Survivor Series, healed and hungry for revenge.  However, he notes upon his return that there is a long line for those who want a piece of Batista. In the past year since his return, he has pissed off a lot of people. That inspired him to bring the line together and kicks off a program for a Survivor Series Elimination Match-up of Team Bryan (Bryan, CM Punk, John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, and Big E. Langston) versus Team Batista (Batista, Orton, Dean Ambrose, Kane, and Alexander Rusev).

This leads to a good stopping point.  From this match-up, an endless string of new feuds could emerge.  Does a member of Team Bryan shine and proceed to take on Batista?  Or does Bryan continue his quest for revenge in recapturing his title?  Does a member of Team Batista take particular offense with an opponent, or member of his team?  Does anyone from Team Bryan have a similar occurrence?  This one match alone could launch several storylines that culminate at Wrestlemania XXXI.

I feel if properly used, Batista’s return will be a great element for the WWE.  The urge may be to pull the trigger early for main event programs or putting the title on him, but I think the slow burn outlined above is the preferred way to go.  You get some unique match-ups, while letting a prolonged story play out regarding Daniel Bryan, the prototype of who Batista sees as the problem with the WWE since his absence.  He gets revenge against a slew of old opponents (notably Cena), captures the title in brutal fashion, and is the arrogant, monster heel that people cannot wait to see ultimately defeated.

Until next week, I relinquish creative control.

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