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Thread: Half Luck, Half Skul: Is Batista the Heel of 2014?

  1. #1
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    Half Luck, Half Skul: Is Batista the Heel of 2014?

    I absolutely loathe Batista.

    Big surprise, right? A member of the IWC claims to hate Batista. I assure you, arrogantly, that it’s much more than the average case of current online venom directed at the man. My hatred expands far, far past disgust at the fact that he’s returned in 2014 unfit to wrestle a midcard match on SmackDown, much less the main event of WrestleMania. My abhorrence stretches past the fact that his inclusion in the main event of WrestleMania compromises the chances of even the appearance at said show by the deserving Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio and Damien Sandow. My loathing doesn’t even include the fact that he won the Royal Rumble instead of Daniel Bryan.

    Excepting the bulk of 2005 – and let’s be honest, who didn’t like Batista during his emergence from Evolution and first World Heavyweight Championship reign? – I’ve always had a distaste for the Animal. What others may have viewed as a cool, collected demeanor I’ve almost always seen as a lofty, smug arrogance that reeks of an undeserved sense of entitlement. He’s always seemed to strut around with a ridiculous “I’m such a tough guy” aura, despite being legitimately beaten by a smaller physical specimen in Booker T. His in-ring abilities have been plagued with sloppiness for years and years – what was a Sit-Out Powerbomb in late 2002 became, consistently, a Powerbomb followed by a clumsy fall on his ass.

    Even some of his most lauded work, particularly his exit run heel program in early 2010, is vastly overrated to me. His mockery of John Cena, hypocritical and moronic, could very realistically be lobbed at the character Batista represented for nearly the entirety of his babyface run. None of his matches post-2007 struck me as anything greater than average, and in some cases, they were a chore to watch. To cap things, his promos are terribly hit-and-miss. When he hits, it’s passable but not extraordinary. When he misses, it’s like listening to a man fall down a ladder. Frequent pauses betray an obvious case of a man scurrying through his head, attempting to figure out what to say.

    In 2014, things are even worse. His biggest assets at the peak of his career, his look and credibility, aren’t what they once were. As he wheezes through virtually anything, which I presume includes putting on tight jeans unbefitting of a 25 year old, much less a 45 year old, his spot near the top of the current wrestling food chain is palpably his due to a past reputation that’s a whisper of those similarly vilified – The Rock and Chris Jericho, for instance.

    As you can see, my opening statement may even be a little understated. I purely and actively detest Batista.

    A thought struck me, though, while I was watching Batista and Daniel Bryan bicker on the most recent episode of SmackDown. Isn’t that the desired reaction for a heel?

    For years, the on-screen designation of hero or villain has factored little into the average IWC member’s perception of a superstar. I’m no less guilty of that than the next guy; Wade Barrett, Damien Sandow, and Bray Wyatt, heels their entire WWE careers, are on my favorites list. Most of us value a sports entertainer’s ability to perform his role much more than we value an on-screen character’s virtues or morals. While it would be inarguably troublesome to see 15,000 people applaud an abduction, the cheers heard in the crowd when the Wyatt Family drag a defenseless babyface into the unknown reflect appreciation for their performance as members of a dangerous and mystical cult.

    While the attitudes of “smarky” fans, which can include but isn’t limited to the cheering of ostensible heels, isn’t a new concept, its influence in live crowds has become more and more rampant over the last handful of years, and is arguably at its highest point yet. Vocal majorities of crowds have been gifted with or polluted by, depending on your perspective, the independence of directing positive and negative energy to those of our choice, regardless of their characters’ alleged alignment in the scope of morals. Babyfaces Batista and Rey Mysterio were heavily booed at the Royal Rumble. The Wyatts and the Shield, villains, received “This is awesome!” chants before even engaging in action at Elimination Chamber. It’s no longer limited to select cities, nor is it even a relatively uncommon phenomenon.

    Though they don’t bat 1.000 in their efforts, WWE has, in large, been extremely successful recently in creating elaborate characters and casting the correct individuals for the parts. It’s almost as if they’ve been too good. Their heels are devious (the Wyatts), pompous (Sandow), and destructive (the Shield) – yet we cheer them anyways. They’re creating characters to be booed, and we’re not booing them – at least not all of us. Earlier, I said that they’ve been too good at it, but through another lens...well, it’s actually a failure.

    So what does WWE do?

    “Just when they think they got the answers, I change the questions.” – ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper

    I’ve long maintained that WWE, being the vastly successful business that it is, is not full of senility and obliviousness, despite what some might say. They’ve undoubtedly made their fair share of mistakes and even head-scratchers, but I’d say that those comprise the minority. What I believe WWE has done with Batista is…not completely redefine the heel, but add another dimension to the term. They’ve made it more ductile. In essence: “You wanna cheer our heels? Fine. Here’s our heel now. Cheer him. I dare you.”

    To some, it may sound juvenile. I consider it adaptation. Crowds have changed, and the WWE has been forced to mimic said change. Who was universally booed in the 80s? A guy who manipulated little kids into almost earning a grand prize before kicking the ball away at bounce 99. Who, if the theory stayed consistent, ought to have been booed in early 2014? Three efficient hitmen who had spent months carrying out the dirty work of a corrupt dictator, showing no shame in 3-on-1 attacks of some of the fans’ most beloved underdogs. But were they booed? If they were, it certainly wasn’t universal. I reiterate – I’m as guilty as the next guy. The Shield are so good at being bad that we marvel at their Anthony Hopkins rather than revile at their Hannibal Lecter.

    So WWE changed the questions. They gave us Batista. When he drew what many refer to as X-Pac heat, they adapted and even exacerbated that reaction by allowing Batista to be the unbearable ass that he is. With crowds’ vocal majorities flexing their smarky independence, WWE scrapped the attempted qualities of Batista that some might have cheered and capitalized on the qualities that so many despise. They focused on the common denominator with which nearly every fan can connect – the love of professional wrestling – and they portrayed Batista as being above that.

    He came back after four years away, which included an ambitious but ultimately feckless MMA “career”. A successful fight, but a feeble career. He returned and arrogantly expected his seat, which was not exactly vacated to an arena full of tears a la Ric Flair or Edge, to still be warm. He won the Royal Rumble in favor of deathly loyal, untouchably hardworking, and much more talented wrestlers. His expectation of coasting to the mountaintop of the business after four years off subtly undermines the entire company. It’s beneath him. That we, wrestling fans, feel perturbed by this ruffles none of Batista’s feathers. “Deal with it,” he states.

    Furthermore, he wears the rose colored glasses of a man floored by what this company has become. “What the hell has happened to this business? I mean, where are all the real men? What happened to the attitude?” His claim that the WWE was better when he was last around completely undercuts every star that’s in the business today, and worse, it’s at a time when a lot of fans are sinking their teeth into a lot the WWE’s doing. To insult that insults those enjoying it. Demeaning the business yet riding to the top of it is a pot shot to the business by a man who considers himself above it. That’s something almost every fan will despise.

    And while my genuine repugnance with Batista is possibly even stronger than ever…I have to tip my hat to WWE for their exploitation of a poor situation into something good. WWE is the doctor using a leech for medicinal purposes.

    In an age where fans hijack shows, cheer heels, boo babyfaces; in an age where X-Pac heat doesn't only exist, but is more and more prevalent than ever, WWE has had to change the questions. Maybe what we’ve, for years, called X-Pac heat is now WWE’s heel reaction. Maybe WWE has made a heel for 2014’s crowds.

    I absolutely loathe Batista. And maybe that’s precisely what WWE wants.

  2. #2
    Senior Member JacobWrestledGod's Avatar
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    Oct 2013
    I completely agree with you. The exact same thing was clear with Triple H and the Authority. I wrote a reactionary column on Bryan being left out of the RR (#Plug) and I was absolutely livid at Trips and the WWE authority. And isn't that what we are supposed to feel? Hatred towards the heels?

    In many ways, heels that are "good" at promos, in-ring etc. are cheered regardless of the moral standards of their character on-screen. Miz was cheered, Randy was cheered, Austin was cheered, Rock was cheered, Jericho was cheered - All during their heel runs as well. In this new age, heels have to be detestable in reality. Bo Dallas did that to a tee on NXT.

    Of course, WWE didn't intend Batista to be that guy who is legitimately hated enough to be a real heel. But as days go on, WWE seem to latch on to the waves of boos towards him, and create this "realistic" villain. Like you said, some people are just hateable on screen and Batista belongs in that league at least for now.

  3. #3
    Main Pager Maverick's Avatar
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    Have to disagree on this one Skul. I've been as positive about WWE management and booking decisions over the past nine months as anyone here, but I feel you may be giving them a little too much credit here. They certainly adapted to the "Bootista" movement, but even when they did so, it's been a house built on sand to me, because the man himself has been so diabolically awful in every segment he's been that all he inspires is colossal indifference.

    You see, even if WWE is going for some kind of postmodern game changing heel (actually, they did this once before with Hollywood Rock) it falls flat for me because not only is Batista floundering as badly in the ring and on the mic as he was before, he's up against a much better heel than him in Randy Orton, and quite likely to be up against the most over babyface in years in Bryan. It would be one thing if he was shredding everyone on the mic, but he's not. Even Dolph Ziggler ran rings around him in a promo contest and for all Ziggy's strengths, stick work is not one of them.

    So I don't hate Batista; I actually liked him first time around, certainly more than I liked Cena. I even vaguely looked forward to him coming back. But this heel character does nothing but make me feel embarrassed for him, particularly because the 2010 heel he played that you derided as overrated was, for me, excellent and exactly what they're trying to go for now...except that Dave seems to have forgotten most of what he knew about pro wrestling, so it falls flat.

    Give it a week or two and I doubt he'll be getting much reaction at all; when you work off real life heat, you need to have the chops to carry it off once that initial surge of antipathy from the fans has subsided. Rocky had that in 97 and 03. Bret did in 97, too. Punk in 09 managed to get whole arenas to throw garbage at him despite it being a supposedly smarter age. You can still be a hated heel with a character if you're good enough at it. Triple H is doing it now with his best for business/B+ player stuff. I don't think Batista has any of those chops, unless he magically rediscovers them over the next month or so.

    So this one was a bit of a reach for me, but hey, I enjoyed disagreeing, which is the sign of a thought provoking piece.

  4. #4
    The Underage Pessimist Subho's Avatar
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    While I think that Batista had to eventually turn heel at some point, conditioning problem not mattering, you do bring up a quite interesting point. Batista's limitations, like you mentioned at the start, would have made it harder for the fans to cheer him like they do with the other heels who are exceptionally good at what they're mean to do, but he would have played the heel role well, as evident with his work in mid 2010, though I agree that it's over-rated as well. It might be too stretching to say that WWE wanted this kind of reaction for Bats, but yeah, they've done well to adapt with the circumstances. He says what he feels, and that's even more disgusting. So, I can live with the idea that a new kind of heel might have been created, who isn't exactly a heel, but is just doing what he does in real life. If Batista's conditioning doesn't improve with time, I expect him to remain a heel/get boo'd throughout his current stint.

  5. #5
    Team Doc Kleckamania's Avatar
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    Skul- Gosh I fucking love this! That SIR Anthony Hopkins/Hannibal Lector line absolutely slayed me. You are good for that kind of unbelieveably incredible line at least once in! I feel like you pulled my thoughts out of my own mind, and possibly displayed them better than I ever could have. I have NEVER liked Batista. I nearly cried when I heard he was coming back because I knew WWE would force feed him down our damn throats at the expense of about 100 wrestlers who deserved it more. I legitimately feel 27 other Rumble entrants could have done better with the win than him, and yet THAT is why I question, like you, if he truly is a great heel fit, for the current product. I came to a quicker conclusion though....NO! His heat is organically generated based on him sucking more than Jenna Jameson in a featured role, and I agree that it had nothing to do with WWE, but they were observant, and they are riding that wave now to a killer surf. That tragically makes me mad, cause I want Bootista off my TV FOREVER! WWE deserves way more credit than they get in the listening to the audience category. This is the biggest example imo. And you displayed it absoluetly flawlessly. Seriously though, get out of my friggin head!

    Love this, but seriously, I love most all of the columns you write. That's why you were my first coach in the Voice (but I'm gonna have to beat your team now for dropping me ) (GO TEAM DOC!), and I sincerely appreciate all the help and guidance you have thrown my way from column 1. You sent me PMs (2) on how I can improve AFTER I had accepted to be on another team in the still running tourney. I needed to make that public because people need to know you are an AWESOME guy, and an amazing columnist! Thank you, and sorry now that I have to win for team Doc .

    Skul- please never stop writing.
    Last edited by Kleckamania; 03-11-2014 at 12:38 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Oliver's Avatar
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    I'm the exact opposite to you, in a way, Skul - I loved Batista throughout so much of his first run. His rise through Evolution, his eventual break away from HHH, his short tag run with Rey, his attempts to regain a title (which was when I sort of lost interest slightly), his feud with Taker, and espescially his heel run toward the end of his WWE time. In fact, I think I even liked Orton vs Batista the first time round.

    But now - no. I might still like Batista the performer (his promo game, especially, seems to be pretty good at the moment) but he's dire between those ropes. I think I said it on Twitter first, but when you've got Roman Reigns nailing a spear and making it look lethal on a weekly basis Batista's looks awful. His powerbomb is a mess, too, and obviously his cardio is FUBAR. At the moment, I'd be surprised to see him make it down the lengthy Mania ramp without being out of breath. It's like he didn't prepare for coming back, and expected to come in and be greeted as a returning hero. I wouldn't be surprised if the fans did force the hand of WWE on this one, but I think they might have just sped up plans a little bit for him - I can't imagine they wanted to go into Mania with a heel vs heel main event, even before the possible addition of Bryan. I always expected Batista to end up siding with The Authority and for that to be his heel turn, possibly after beating Bryan at Mania with HHHs help.

    Excellently written stuff, Skul, and even with the little bits of disagreement I had this is still a really strong column. You've been killing it since returning - KUTGW!

  7. #7
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    First of all, a very well written piece. I can tell that you are a writer, or at least, write a lot.

    Despite that, and despite understanding your argument [I think], I disagree with you. I don't think the WWE were in any way clever with what they have done. I feel it was as simple as, they had no option. They brought Batista in as this great face, that was supposed to win the Royial Rumble and most probably go on to face heel Orton, with the crowd behind him. Instead, he got booed, so they thought, might as well turn him heel.

    I, like you, detest the man. I however, unlike some of the posters who have replied, have never liked him. Not when he debuted, not in when he was being built up in the mid card, not when he won his first World Heavyweight title, not when he was an established main eventer, and not now. I always saw him as a guy who didn't belong in that ring. I have never seen a match that I thought was made good because of Batista. I never remember him giving a promo that would stick in my mind, an in ring mic segment that had he thinking 'you know what, I don't like him, but that was a great promo [even Cena has made me feel that way on a number of occasions].

    To me there is a difference between a heel who you just dislike because of their on screen character, and a heel who you can't stand because they can't wrestle, can't talk and generally suck at their job [being a wrestler]. Ignoring Triple H's backstage politics, I didn't like him as a heel. He annoyed me [because he was a good heel], but I could watch a Triple H match and be in awe, and I could listen to him on the mic and appreciate that he could talk. I didn't like his character, but I could watch him without wanting to turn the TV off. With Batista, I don't feel that, I just want him to leave and never return to wrestling again.

    Despite my views on him, very well written piece and an interesting point of view to see.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Freeman's Avatar
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    Sep 2013
    I think you could be right dude, however, I think whether or not WWE have stumbled across their new mega heel will depend on one thing: Will people pay to see him get his ass kicked? It's great that we seem to finally have a heel who seems to be almost unanimously despised by both the smart fans and casuals. Hopefully, the heat he's getting at the moment will turn out to be the good kind, and people will tune in because they want to see him fail, rather than that X-Pac heat which gets mentioned every now and then, where people just won't tune in at all if he's on TV. It's certainly going to be an interesting year for him.

    Loved that Hannibal Lecter/Anthony Hopkins line by the way.

  9. #9
    Hey Skul, terrific column. I like your straight columns more than your sarcasm filled and random reference filled comedy pieces because I don't understand half the things that you say on those pieces, which is totally on me and nothing about you.

    I think it's just something that WWE has to accept as a last resort and their attempt to save Wrestlemania. Randy Orton, for as good as he is claimed to be, is not really drawing as a heel, in my opinion. He is not someone that people are interested in seeing his ass get kicked. In that sense, Batista will be a much better heel for that role. Trips is doing everything right, in his role as an evil boss or something. He's not too despicable but just enough hateable. Like most our bosses. Randy - I'm just not sure why all the praise for the would have been a very uninteresting main event if it was only him Vs Bryan at Wrestlemania. Batista is a good addition and hopefully the triple threat rule will allow him to take something in the range of 25-27 minutes of break in a 30 minute match and also allow him to get beaten by Bruan by pinfall. It's as if Randy is going to compensate for Batista's lack of cardio and Batista is going to compensate for people's lack of interest in Randy. Perfect match, I would say.

  10. #10
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    First, a sort of blanket response. I realize this column didn't strongly enough convey my idea that WWE didn't start with this deployment of Batista. However, I believe that their exacerbation of his negative qualities was a quick, not to mention extremely effective, reaction. That's my fault for lauding them too strongly in the column and not pushing that message through more clearly. Cheers for the feedback in that aspect, all!


    Jake - The little I've seen of Bo Dallas, as well as the reviews I've read of his work courtesy Oli, he's another prime example of WWE turning it around and using that real-life hate. Thanks for the read and feed, and glad you agree!


    Mav - Well, about time! Haha. We've been bound to disagree on something, it's been way too long! Whereas I'll concede your point about the possibility - not the certainty, but the possibility - of the following happening...

    Quote Originally Posted by Maverick
    Give it a week or two and I doubt he'll be getting much reaction at all; when you work off real life heat, you need to have the chops to carry it off once that initial surge of antipathy from the fans has subsided.
    I don't think this is quite accurate, at least not yet:

    Quote Originally Posted by Maverick
    because the man himself has been so diabolically awful in every segment he's been that all he inspires is colossal indifference.
    He's been awful, certainly! But I don't know if he's been getting straight indifference. He's been getting boos, and a lot of 'em. Guess it depends on we keep booing his untalented ass, or if he draws pure apathy. Cheers for the read and feed, bud, always a pleasure to hear differing opinions!


    Subby - I'd argue that his arrogant coast to the top of the card is more to blame than his lack of conditioning, though that might just be me. Guys like The Rock even evoked a little venom when he returned and superseded everyone, and Batista is nowhere Rock's legendary status. Thanks for the read, man!


    Klecker - Thanks man, for that heap of praise! I'll continue writing as long as I've still got stuff to write about, and of course, assuming real life allows it, yada yada...


    Oli - Orton/Batista in '09 was brutal for me...thank goodness SmackDown was killing it then, because RAW was very meh for me back then. I think it was actually around Batista's initial brief run with Rey that I stopped liking the guy. The RAW/SmackDown feud was what did it for me, I was too much a Shawn Michaels/Edge mark, and Kane and Big Show were badass too. It'll be interesting to see if Batista joins the Authority. I hope not, I like them too much right now! Haha. Thanks, as always, for the read and the feed, buddy.


    WZ - That's the point I was going for - there's a difference between heels that you "hate" and heels that you HATE. Given the nature of the crowds nowadays, I wouldn't be surprised to see the WWE shift ever so slightly toward the latter. But you've raised a really good point - will people simply tune out? I don't think that as many will as some people think. But who knows. Thanks for the read!


    Morgan - You're absolutely right. It'll be interesting to see how it pans out. Personally, I'd love it if he straight up left WWE, but a) I'm not about to tune out simply because of him and b) if he has to be there, I'd love to see him get his ass kicked, both in the ring and on the mic, week in and week out.

    A bit arrogantly...I liked that line, too. Thanks man!


    Newt - Hey man! Appreciate the honest feed. I try to mix my columns up partly for that reason. I know that one type won't reach all readers' areas of favor. Great analysis about the upcoming match, too - the triple threat will allow Batista to hide his shortcomings in cardio and what not. 27 minutes of break in a 30 minute match is crazy to ponder, but I think you might actually be right! That's scary. Thanks for the read!

  11. #11
    There is one major sign that can be used as an evidence for the theory that the WWE always wanted Batista's return to be underwhelming, so much so that it would be necessary to turn him heel - the video package to hype his return. For a company that produces outstanding video packages that almost always touches your heart on monthly basis, how could they have produced such a vanila, uninteresting video package for such a huge return?

  12. #12
    Shine a light JCool's Avatar
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    Sep 2013
    Awesome work, Skul. I realize how much I enjoy the use of quotes. It offers the reader a chance to consider things from another perspective and to get our brain working differently to ponder on how you've connected someone else's words (presumably an authority) to your own argument or discussion.
    Roddy Piper was a good choice.
    I can agree with you that Batista could potentially be the top heel of the year, but he'll have to maintain some of that by his actual in-ring and promo work. Him just being himself will carry him pretty far though. I look forward to booing him at 'Mania.

    The only guy that comes even close to his heel status is Triple H.

    Way to go, Coach!

  13. #13
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    Mar 2014

    Great column, but I'm going to respectfully disagree. The Wyatts may be well liked, but the overwhelming reaction (their awesome entrance not withstanding) is booing. Their actions elicit boos from the majority. The same goes for The Shield. There will always be those who love the villains and cheer them, I myself fall into that category.

    That said, as I wrote in my column earlier today, what's happening with Batista is something new. It's not that the fans hate Batista, or that they hate him being winded, or being a horrible promo in general etc, etc, etc. Fans popped for Batista when he returned. Fans enjoyed Batista for a brief time despite the skinny jeans and strange look. What's happening with Batista is something brand new, something I've never seen in wrestling. Batista in a whole different scenario would have been a babyface.

    Had the WWE brought him in, and given a slow build, let him take on and crush Del Rio, and a few other lesser heels for a few months, he'd have been over as a face.

    Batista instead was hotshotted to a Royal Rumble win that everyone wanted to go to Daniel Bryan. That's why Mysterio got the reaction that he got. Had Mysterio won that Rumble, HE'D be getting this heat. (Fans probably would have accepted Reigns because he's new, and fresh, and they view him in a different light.) This is a case where Batista is a heel because he's NOT Daniel Bryan. Fans are viewing him as receiving what Daniel Bryan deserves, and he's the poster boy for that backlash. I don't think that this is the new WWE norm, I think this is an entirely new (pardon the pun) animal. It, like Bryan himself, is lightning in a bottle, and can't be recreated as the standard.

    Great column nonetheless.

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