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When I’m gone, when I’m gone… You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone! Welcome back to the Mr. Tito experience here at LordsofPain.net. Man, we’re just 1 week away from the “series finale” of my columns as I hit my 20th Anniversary as Mr. Tito here at LordsofPain.net on October 26th. Can’t hardly wait, folks… I’ll certainly miss the routine of watching wrestling, but the WWE product has torn my heart out as a wrestling fan. The McMahon family no longer has a product that I demand and the competition is just “meh” to me (believe me, I tried all of them). If you still enjoy WWE and other promotions, don’t take my word for it… Enjoy it all you want for all I care…
But thank you for reading. It means a lot for me and it is very likely that my loyal readers helped keep me motivated to be Mr. Tito for a long time.
OK, enough of that… You clicked this link to read a WRESTLING COLUMN from a WRESTLING COLUMNIST. And I shall deliver…
I did watch Smackdown LIVE from Hulu, the 1.5 hour condensed version, as it was the 1,000th episode. It was an OK show… Personally, I would have shown some love towards Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar who helped carry that brand for years… Probably a bit less on the “first ever General Manager” Stephanie McMahon who stepped in to ruin the momentum of the show during 2002-2003. I’m still scratching my head at the “Truth TV” segment, although the more R-Truth, the better. I’m still laughing at him bringing a Ladder into a Royal Rumble match.
The big thing that stuck out from the 1,000th Smackdown was not just Evolution‘s first ever appearance on the show, but the return of Batista. That was a major appearance, as Batista has just spent the past few years helping to headline MAJOR blockbuster Marvel Comics films Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy – Volume 2, and Avengers: Infinity War. In all 3 movies, he often steals scenes with his “Drax the Destroyer” character with amazing dead pan delivery of comedy. He’ll also be featured in Avengers 4 and that Drax character will be watched for decades from those fantastic Marvel films much like previous generations adored the Star Wars films.
That promo was great… Just like the Rock returning during 2011 after years of acting to polish his speaking ability and confidence, Batista looked like a real star in that ring and he was surrounded by big superstars with Ric Flair, Triple H, and Randy Orton. He outshined them all! Then, he dropped a bomb by mentioning that Triple H never beat him… HOLY COW… Batista’s big moment was during 2005 when he defeated Triple H at Wrestlemania 21 to win his first ever World Title (World Heavyweight Championship). Batista then moved from the RAW brand to Smackdown where he ruled it for years while Triple H remained on RAW. That is a pretty interesting Wrestlemania 35 match-up and why not? Batista now appearing on that show will potentially put more Marvel loving eyeballs on that show.
In case you haven’t heard, Batista is REALLY upset at Disney for terminating director and writer James Gunn from the 3rd Guardians of the Galaxy. Dave has dared to speak out about Disney and has been 100% behind Gunn. As of right now, the Guardians 3 film is “on hold” and reportedly, there is some consideration on how Avengers 4 might be rewritten to consider the Guardians cast. As you saw from the Infinity War film, Thanos’s snap of the fingers with the Infinity Gauntlet full of gems caused half of humanity to turn into dust. Most of the Guardians cast was killed in that movie… Meanwhile, James Gunn has reportedly signed on to the next Suicide Squad film and Batista has instantly showed interest in joining that film (his Marvel contract might tell him otherwise).
POINT BEING, if Batista truly does walk away from Disney and Marvel films, he could have limited options as an actor given how many of the studios are now merging. Maybe he’ll try another WWE run? Problem is that he’s about to turn 50 years old… How many years of taking bumps in the ring could he endure? But hey, maybe a certain country would be willing to drop a few millions on him to come back every year?
As popular as Batista appears NOW, he wasn’t so popular during 2014. In fact, quite the opposite… His return was a disaster until the Shield vs. Evolution feud, as the push for Batista vs. Randy Orton to headline Wrestlemania 30 was a complete disaster. Fans outright rejected that match and both wrestlers participating in it. They were pissed at Orton for who he defeated to become WWE Champion (Daniel Bryan) and they didn’t like how the WWE chose push Batista to the very top despite his long hiatus. Batista won the 2014 Royal Rumble match and it was met with heavy boos. In the following weeks , he was booed anywhere he went and was dubbed “Bootista”. The reactions to Randy Orton and Batista were so sour that WWE officials had to rewrite Wrestlemania 30 to allow Daniel Bryan to join their match and become WWE Champion.
Let’s go back to 2014… It wasn’t just about Daniel Bryan, as there were other things in the WWE environment that didn’t allow Batista‘s 2014 return to flourish. As you would later see, when Batista joined Evolution for the Shield feud, things were just fine. How could he go from being booed non-stop to become captivating in a great series of 6 man matches?
REASONS WHY BATISTA’s 2014 WWE RUN FAILED
For the record, him rejoining Evolution following Wrestlemania 30 was great and Evolution putting over the Shield twice cleanly was how the business should operate. My criticisms are more geared toward his singles run from January to Wrestlemania 30.
Here we go…
Out of shape, rushed to the ring too fast
From day one at the Royal Rumble 2014 event, he was sucking wind in the Rumble match from the instant he hit the ring. Looked physically great but was clearly not in cardio shape. WWE should have allowed him to work the upper midcard for a while until he gained his footing.
Tired of Randy Orton
He is a 13 time World Champion but many of those title reigns were either forgotten or upsetting. His 2011 run on Smackdown as World Heavyweight Champion caused a ratings decline and the last quarter for 2013 was a disaster for WWE ratings and Pay Per View buyrates with Orton as champ (worst Survivor Series buyrate, ever). He also has the 2012 Wellness Policy violation and yet there he was 1 year later, World Champion and heading to Wrestlemania 30 as champion. Fans were tired of him being always “in the way” for other wrestlers deserving of a push.
Daniel Bryan getting screwed by WWE Creative.
Probably the biggest reason why the Royal Rumble match victory was so rejected as Daniel Bryan wasn’t even in the 2014 Rumble match and Batista wins instantly after returning. Daniel Bryan became naturally over by the FANS throughout 2013 and it all came to a head at Survivor Series 2013 when John Cena put over Bryan 100% clean. Then, WWE Creative went on the attack… Randy Orton cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and special guest referee Triple H was there to “screw” Bryan out of the title. But, this could have been redeemed if Bryan soon got the better of Orton by winning his title back and then wrestling Triple H at Survivor Series. IN FACT, that was the initial reported plans but they were quickly changed as that SummerSlam 2013 buyrate arrived. Because it was down from the Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar SummerSlam 2012 buyrate which had a unique match-up that drew, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk were blamed for that show. Plans were changed to keeping Orton as champion and seeking other stars to push instead of Punk/Bryan. Hence why the Roman Reigns soon ramped up and why Batista was brought back (also, Lesnar got pushed harder). Fans were pissed that Bryan was losing to Orton and were more angry when Bryan was shoved into the Wyatt Family as a midcarder. Batista was booed anywhere he went, no matter what he did.
CM Punk leaving the WWE.
CM Punk had a beef with Creative and was upset that he could never headline Wrestlemania in the final match of the show. Being denied the opportunity to win the 2014 Rumble set fans off during that match that Batista eventually won. On the RAW following the Rumble, it was reported everywhere that CM Punk walked out of the WWE following a heated confrontation with Vince and Triple H. Fans just lost a top superstar that they saw losing to every big name during 2013 and felt that 2014 could have been a redeeming year for him. Nope… He left and his fans didn’t want Batista pushed in his place.
Nobody knew that his Guardians role would be huge.
Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t exactly a major franchise by Marvel Comics, as it had no major superheroes within the group and the group changed many times throughout the year. Not a top selling comic, too… But Director James Gunn knew what he was doing and found the perfect mix of characters for the roles. On top of that, he gave it an amazing soundtrack. The film was a mixture of fantasy, comedy, science fiction, and action… That, and you just want to cry when Groot wants to sacrifice himself so that the rest of the Guardians can survive. Damn it, I need a tissue every time that I see that! Batista’s movie career before that saw smaller roles in films that nobody saw or heard about. Nobody knew how GOOD he’d prove himself as Drax the Destroyer, especially nailing the dead pan comedy. But this was early 2014 when nobody imagined that this Guardians film would be a blockbuster and actually become equals to the Avengers franchise. The Guardians played a HUGE role in Infinity War and that probably wasn’t planned before 2014.
Weird fashion sense.
So you’re pushing someone as a babyface and yet he’s wearing clothing (very tight, too) that most fans cannot relate to. On top of that, the WWE was advertising that he was getting Hollywood roles. So you have a guy who hasn’t been in the company since 2010 and he randomly joins the WWE during early 2014 to be pushed as the #1 babyface… Kinda made fans feel like he was entitled to his push instead of earning it. Batista made things worse by looking the part with the way he dressed compared to what he looked like before as a WWE wrestler. It was like he was “rubbing it in” that he was a Hollywood actor to wrestling fans. Part of what makes a great heel is when the wrestler acts like he was “better than you”… But Batista’s fashion look make it appear like he was doing that as a babyface.
He was a Triple H guy.
Batista was hand-picked personally by Triple H to join the new “Horsemen like” stable Evolution. Furthermore, Triple H seemed to put in extra effort to put Batista over compared to what we saw with Chris Benoit and Randy Orton during 2014. The whole storyline was geared to launch Batista as a Main Eventer and was carefully constructed to break up the remainder of the Evolution group and to definitively have Batista beat Triple H at Wrestlemania 21. As you saw from Smackdown, Batista alluded to the fact that Triple H never beat him in a match… That was true. Batista quickly moved to Smackdown after that Wrestlemania 21 match, so thus Batista was never forced to lose a rematch in return. Reportedly during late 2013, it was Triple H who not only helped get Batista his WWE job back, but convince Vince to let him win the 2014 Royal Rumble to co-headline Wrestlemania 30 with Randy Orton. Fans knew that Batista was a “Triple H guy” and openly rejected this 2014 mega push.
Did not have a good exit from the WWE during 2010.
And finally, this point… During the Spring of 2010, Batista abruptly left the company just after he was in a high profile feud with John Cena. At Wrestlemania 26, he lost the WWE Title to John Cena and then lost his rematch to Cena at the Extreme Rules Pay Per View. Before the next Pay Per View, he was gone… In interviews later with various media outlets, Batista cited that he did not like the creative direction of his character. That seemed like it burned bridges with the WWE and his abrupt exit upset many of his loyal fans. Then, he returns to the WWE during early 2014 as a different version of his character who was pushed as the #1 babyface to win the Rumble match and go on to Wrestlemania 30 as the #1 contender.
In my opinion, the WWE botched Batista‘s 2014 return. For one, management completely failed to realize how “over” Daniel Bryan was. However, they rushed Batista to this role and not only did fans feel that it was forced, Batista wasn’t ready for the role. He wasn’t in good cardio shape, as he was clearly sucking wind in his early matches, and he was absent for almost 4 years when he returned. That is an eternity for pro wrestling. Steve Austin took less than a year off for his neck surgery during 1999-2000 and when he returned to being a full-time wrestler, he wasn’t as popular as before. Hulk Hogan was never the same following his Wrestlemania 6 loss and short absence. The Rock had a big pop for his initial return during 2010 but failed to draw at non-Wrestlemania events afterward.
Just pushing him to instantly win the Rumble match and then trying to make him the #1 babyface was a BIG MISTAKE. It took WWE 2 months to realize said error and they completely rewrote Wrestlemania 30 because of it. Daniel Bryan was shoved into that Main Event and the man who pushed for Batista’s return and Rumble win, Triple H, got to eat a loss at Wrestlemania 30 before that match.
After Wrestlemania 30, Batista was just fine in his supporting role with Evolution. He was also in much better cardio shape and he helped to contribute to both great 6 man matches with the Shield. Batista ate some of those losses, too, just as he also was the one tapping to Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 30 and the one eating the first pin during the first Shield vs. Evolution match. Most will bash his role from Rumble to Wrestlemania but few will give him credit for “doing business”.
Actually, I think that wrestling fans do… Batista had a better ending to his 2014 than beginning. He left after that 2nd Evolution vs. Shield match and went on to become a HUGE Hollywood star. I could even argue that Batista is now the greatest “wrestler turned Hollywood actor” of all time. You’ll argue the Rock, but more people have enjoyed Drax the Destroyer than any Rocky films. Batista has a character that people remember whereas the Rock is the Rock in every film that he does. I could seriously argue that Batista made those Marvel films BETTER by being in them.
That is why his Smackdown 1,000th episode appearance was so well received and why people are actually hyped for Triple H vs. Batista possibly happening at Wrestlemania 35.
THE LAST WORD
Recently, the WWE YouTube.com channel published a video on October 14th in anticipation of the 1,000th Smackdown episode entitled How Eddie Guerrero became a SmackDown legend: WWE Untold. I’m not going to lie here… I got REALLY emotional watching it.
Many wrestlers have come and gone… If you were a wrestling fan during the late 1990s and early 2000s, there were many deaths of wrestlers. Some by accident whereas many were substance related. The hardest death that I took as a wrestling fan was Owen Hart before late 2005. You knew that Owen loved the business but was also a family man. His death was not his fault due to negligance of the WWE with a stunt. It was a hard death to endure but as a 19 year old kid back then in my early days as Mr. Tito, it didn’t cause me to question myself as a wrestling fan. Probably should have, as the stunt was careless and Owen should still be here to this day.
Eddie Guerrero‘s death really bothered me when it happened during late 2005 and it broke me as a wrestling fan. If you read my columns during the first half of 2006 before I initially retired from mid-2006 through early 2010, they were very dark in tone. I was miserable as a wrestling fan because I personally felt that the WWE didn’t take care of its talent. Just after Eddie died, the WWE began its Wellness Policy during early 2006. My reaction was: “where was that policy before Eddie died?”. I thought that following the 1994 trials that performance enhancing testing and punishments for use existed. I was wrong. The WWE was just like Major League Baseball with its lack of testing. But unlike baseball, wrestlers were dying for the amount of muscle that they packed on their bodies.
Eddie was only 5’8″ but he had to pack on bulk muscle just to “look the part” in the WWE. On top of whatever he did to increase muscle mass, he had some substance issues that he had to overcome at various points. His body just gave out during November 2005 to the stress of making it in a wrestling culture that pushed its wrestlers to the brink of destruction. The 2006 Wellness Policy tested but never made results public. It wasn’t until June 2007 arrived when Chris Benoit murdered his family that things changed. That event made me stop watching wrestling from mid 2007 to late 2009 entirely because of all of the substances found in Benoit’s house and his reported failings under the older Wellness Policy that didn’t get published. I was done with the WWE at that point and wouldn’t comeback until I knew that things were officially cleaned up. Sadly, it took Eddie’s death and news following Chris Benoit’s killings & suicide that changed the WWE for the better.
Truthfully, my self-imposed WWE boycott and retirement as Mr. Tito could have remained… Just having a newborn child, I was home more to care for an infant… Just flipping around channels, I saw RAW on during late 2009… The few moments that I watched it became longer and longer in the weeks that followed. Then, on LoPforums.com, someone started an “Ask Tito” thread that got more involved with writing about wrestling again. During early 2010, LoP owner Calvin Martin invited me to write non-wrestling blogs to be featured on the side of LordsofPain.net. I wrote on politics, economics, movies, music, and whatever else came to mind… Then on one night, I reviewed RAW with it because “why not?”. My pageviews were low for my non-wrestling stuff but popped for that RAW review. Weeks later, I reviewed RAW again. Same thing. Then, I started writing about wrestling more often and my comeback as Mr. Tito was complete. Over 8 years later, here I am…
Eddie Guerrero on Smackdown from 2002-2005 was awesome and often doesn’t get enough credit for how good that run was. He was a very unlikely superstar, as WCW used him mostly as a midcarder and the substance abuse often got in the way of any success that he was about to have. The “Latino Heat” stuff with Chyna helped to launch the character side of Eddie. Then when he returned to the WWE during 2002 and then joined the Smackdown roster, the “Lie, Cheat, Steal” character was born with Eddie often using Hispanic stereotypes to forge into his unique charismatic personality. But he embraced those stereotypes to be unique to his character and then injected a lot of pride into his character as well to offset anything deemed offensive. Look at the way the crowd erupts when he defeats Brock Lesnar at No Way Out 2004. They WANTED him to win that WWE Title…
I just disagree with how the WWE fumbled his World Title run. It seemed as though WWE was “numb” from Brock Lesnar exiting after Wrestlemania 20 and they didn’t want to embrace Eddie as their champion. Instead, they rushed Bradshaw to become “JBL”. While I enjoyed that character, he went from being a tag team wrestler and midcarder to the top guy overnight. I would certainly argue that JBL became a good WWE Champion, with time, and John Cena benefited from beating him at Wrestlemania 21… But it completely discounted Eddie Guerrero as WWE Champion and how huge his No Way Out 2004 victory was and then the Wrestlemania 20 celebration with Chris. The reports said that Eddie “struggled as champion” but if you look at the booking, he wasn’t made into a dominant champion. He lost quickly to JBL and never got it back. It’s all about who your opponents are and how much you win as Champion.
If you have some time this weekend, please check out the WWE’s How Eddie Guerrero became a SmackDown legend: WWE Untold. Then, go watch No Way Out 2004 to see him defeat Brock Lesnar. His Tornado DDT reversal out of the F5 that landed on the WWE title belt was a thing of beauty!
“We lie, we cheat, we steal!” I love you, Eddie!
THANK YOU for reading, as always. I wouldn’t be writing these columns if it weren’t for you, the readers. I appreciate the time that you put into reading and discussing my columns. Tweet me anytime if you want to chat, as even after I retire from writing wrestling columns, I’ll still be lurking there. Just follow @titowrestling and you’re set.
And if you want an arse kicking on the Nintendo Switch online system, you can receive that too. Ice Hockey and Tecmo Bowl are a TON of fun to play online from the NES Classics, but if you want to play some Rocket League, Mario Kart, Splatoon 2, Street Fighter 2, Bomberman, Runbow, etc., just let me know.
I’ll still be around on Twitter and I’ll loosely follow pro wrestling news, maybe pick and choose YouTube segments to watch to remain current. I’m just choosing not to dedicate my Sunday Nights to Pay Per Views, watching RAW/Smackdown, or spending 2-3 hours (sometimes more) per column dedicated to wrestling. I just don’t have that in me any longer…
And remember… To purchase the Doc’s book Greatest Matches and Rivalries of the Wrestlemania Era via Amazon.com in the United States, GO HERE. To purchase this book via Amazon.com in the United Kingdom, GO HERE. If those don’t work, please inquire Doc via Twitter through his handle @TheDocLoP.
BUY THE BOOK!
So just chill… Until the next episode!
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