He’s currently starring in the latest James Bond film Spectre, but long before he was mixing it up with Daniel Craig he was mixing it up with the good and the great of the wrestling business, and now that he’s carving out quite a name for himself there’s no better time than to take a look at WWE’s recent tribute to the man himself, Batista: The Animal Unleashed.
And as is the custom with these things let’s start right at the beginning with…..
The collection begins with a forty minute documentary as our man returns to WWE in January 2014 before the Royal Rumble. As is usual with these things it’s a very well-made piece as we see Batista arriving at the arena before the show and getting ready for the Rumble match itself.
In between these segments there’s a ton of talking head moments where Batista speaks quite openly about his time away from WWE and his forays into the acting and MMA worlds, as well as a short piece with the Imperials car club in Los Angeles where he shows off his Impala low-rider.
Overall it’s not a bad piece, but personally I would have preferred something a little longer, something that looked at his entire career in greater detail instead of just the days leading up to the Rumble.
Alongside this is a special feature in which his old neighbour Titus O’Neil talks about how he met Batista. No mention of if the Animal ever borrowed a cup of sugar from him though.
But with the documentary and O’Neil piece lasting a shade over forty-two minutes it means that there’s a few matches on this disc as well, so let’s switch modes a little and begin with…..
28th July, 2001
Our journey begins in Ohio Valley Wrestling, and our man, known here as Leviathan, faces another monster in the form of Brock Lesnar.
This is the first time I’ve seen an OVW match, and it had a kind of old school vibe about it. The setting kind of reminded me of some of the old Memphis shows I’d seen, what with the local business adverts around the ring and the commentators talking about an upcoming house show. (Nick Dinsmore’s going for the OVW title everybody!)
The match itself is also something of an eye opener, especially if you’ve only seen Lesnar since his comeback. Batista….or Leviathan as I should call him, easily matched him for power as he dominated most of the match.
Leviathan took a brief trip to Suplex City, but when Lesnar took his man down with what looked like an F5-lite (an F2.5 perhaps) Leviathan’s ladies at ringside distracted the referee when he went for the pin. This gave his manager Sinn the chance to jump into the ring so she could spray something into his Lesnar’s eyes, and with the referee none the wiser Leviathan took Lesnar down with a spear for the three count.
27th June, 2002
Our man has ditched the persona of a sea creature and is now a man of the cloth as he joins the Reverend D-Von in a tag team against Faarooq and Randy Orton on Smackdown.
At first I wondered why this match was on here, mainly because it was the good Reverend who did most of the work, but when Orton had him in some trouble Batista took the blind tag route into the match and unloaded on his future Evolution buddy with a massive clothesline before taking him down with a spinebuster for the win.
But perhaps the most disappointing thing about this match was the lack of a DAMN!
22nd March, 2004
Our man is now part of Evolution as he joins Ric Flair in challenging Rob Van Dam and Booker T for the World Tag Team titles on Raw.
On the night that the Draft Lottery sent their leader Triple H to Smackdown (only to be traded back shortly afterwards) Flair and Batista were looking to regain their titles. By this time Flair was more or less running on auto-pilot as it were, doing his usual thing, throwing a ton of chops as well as the usual Flair bump off the top rope.
RVD and Booker looked pretty good as a unit, but it was during the all hell breaking loose segment that a mis-communication cost them dearly. As Batista was about to take Booker down with his powerbomb Van Dam came off the top rope, intent on taking the Animal down with a kick.
Batista saw him coming though and pushed Booker backwards, so when RVD came flying his kick caught Booker square in the back of the head. It was then that the big man took him down with the Batista bomb for the title-regaining three count.
9th September, 2005
Our man is now the World title on Smackdown as he faces the challenge of John “Bradshaw” Layfield in a bull rope match.
This was basically two big guys beating on each other with a rope and a cowbell for about nine minutes or so, and in truth it wasn’t that bad actually, although most of these type of matches have the same basic formula.
The best part came after Batista had taken JBL down with his powerbomb. He then wrapped the rope around his neck and dragged the rich man around the ring so he could touch the corners. However, he failed to notice that JBL was touching the same corners just seconds later, so when they came to the final corner JBL fought his way out of Batista’s clutches. A tug of war ensued as the champion stopped him from making the corner. A massive spinebuster put JBL out of commission, giving Batista the chance to touch the final corner and claim the win.
15th July, 2006 It’s six man action as our man joins World Champion Rey Mysterio and Bobby Lashley as they take on King Booker, Mark Henry and United States Champion Finlay on Saturday Night’s Main Event.
This was another match I wondered why they put on here considering how Batista didn’t do much. This was his first match back after a seven month absence due to an injury caused by Henry, and he spent most of the time on the apron as the hated heels used Mysterio as their own personal punching bag.
Needless to say that the ultimate underdog managed to get the hot tag eventually, and with the King left alone against three commoners a 619 from Mysterio set him up perfectly for Batista’s powerbomb and the winning pin.