It was initially reported (originally by Wrestling Observer Newsletter) at the end of August that former multi-time World Champion Batista was being heavily favoured to headline the upcoming 2018 Class of the WWE Hall of Fame. We’re still a ways away from the first official inductee being announced (it’s traditionally announced in January of each year), but there’s a very strong case for Batista, beyond just his wrestling resume.
BATISTA: THE WRESTLER
There’s no denying that, love him or hate, Batista has had Hall of Fame worthy career in the WWE. A 6x World Champion (2x WWE Champion, 4x World Heavyweight Champion) and 4x WWE Tag Team Champion (twice in Evolution with Ric Flair, once each with John Cena and Rey Mysterio Jr.), Batista was a crowd favourite throughout the Ruthless Agression era and at times, was also one of it’s most dominant heels. His final run with the WWE (prior to his short return in 2013) as the antagonist versus John Cena provided some of his best in-ring work and promos of his career. A stereotypical “WWE Big Man” mold, Batista improved greatly over his career – in 2005, three years after his debut, he was voted Most Improved Wrestler of the Year by readers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) and the Wrestling Observer selected him as Feud of the Year twice – 2005 vs. Triple H and 2007 vs. The Undertaker. He was also part of the historic 2002 Class from Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), WWE’s developmental at the time, that included John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and Shelton Benjamin.
BAUTISTA: THE ACTOR
Dave Bautista – the man behind the Batista character – left the WWE in 2010 to pursue more opportunities. He flirted with MMA, but Hollywood became his true calling. He started with some straight to DVD affairs (like House of the Rising Sun and Scorpion King 3), but got his big break in the Quentin Tarantino produced RZA vehicle, Man With The Iron Fists in 2012, followed by a role in Vin Diesel‘s Riddick in 2013. But his career took a significant jump when he was cast as Drax The Destroyer in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, joining the highly lucrative and popular Marvel Cinematic Universe. He joined another iconic film franchise in 2015 as a James Bond villain henchman in Spectre (as Mr. Hinx). This year exploded for Bautista, as his return to Drax for Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 emerged as one of the standouts of a hugely successful film, and recent trailers for the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, Blade Runner 2049, show Bautista also has a big role in yet another big franchise.
TO INFINITY AND BEYOND
But the single biggest reason why the WWE wants Batista to headline the 2018 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony – which will be held on Friday April 6, 2018, two nights before WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans, Louisiana – is that it’s the same month that Batista’s biggest foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date comes out. Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 – the cosmic finale to the entire MCU so far that brings all their film heroes together to battle Thanos – comes out in theaters on April 25, 2018. Dave Bautista will be well into his promotional run for the film, promotions from Disney/Marvel will be looking at massive outlets, and adding his Hall of Fame induction into those promotional conversations will draw back many casual fans who may have drifted away from the WWE since Batista left in 2010. It’s practically a no brainer.
Is it still a little early to induct Batista as the headliner over so many others? Probably. But the timing of his induction couldn’t be better as far as a marketing standpoint.