wrestling / News

Batista Says Creative Process Leading into WrestleMania 35 Was ‘A Nightmare,’ Explains Why He Didn’t Like WWE’s Original Plan For Flair Birthday Segment

July 8, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Batista WWE Raw 2-25-19

Batista appeared on Chris Jericho’s Talk is Jericho and discussed his struggles with the creative team leading into his match with Triple H at WrestleMania 35. The Animal recalled that the situation as a “nightmare” and felt like WWE wanted him to come back too soon, noting that he had to hold firm on not appearing on several shows so that the feud didn’t lose focus. He also recalled that their original plan for the Ric Flair birthday segment was far more generic, with him being part of the celebration instead of the finalized plan of him attacking Flair backstage.

Highlights from the discussion, as well as the full podcast, are below:

On the creative experience coming back before WrestleMania: “It was a nightmare. It wasn’t a nightmare like the last time, but it was difficult. Because for one, I thought I was going back way too soon [in late February]. And because I thought, ‘If I go back, we tease this now, what the hell are we doing for the next five weeks?’ You know, because the last run I went out [in 2014], I went back and they had no plan. And they didn’t know what to do with me, so every week they’re just sending me out there to cut these really horrible promos. They’re just awful, and I’m just regurgitating the same crap while people are going, you know, [chanting] ‘CM Punk!’ or ‘Daniel Bryan!'”

On the original plan for his return at Ric Flair’s 70th birthday party: “Then the night I was going back, they really wanted me back for the 70th birthday party for Ric, for Flair. And I said, ‘I don’t want to be a part of that! Because it just waters down our s**t! Don’t just stick me in there with like 20 other people who are coming back to say Happy Birthday Ric, then it’s me and Hunter, and we get in a little spat.’ I said, ‘It’s just watering down our program.’ So then they came up with the backstage segment where I drag Ric across the floor … And I knew, you know, it’s weird. Because I did ask the question, I said, ‘Are there gonna be some people in that ring who are a little offended that they’re not part of the program? They think they’re showing up for one thing, and they’re actually showing up for another? I don’t think [they knew]. Shawn, I saw Shawn after, he said he didn’t know. So I don’t know who was privy to what. But then they came to the point where, this isn’t my idea, and I’m not gonna water down my s**t to make everybody else happy. If they’re gonna do this to them, then they need to tell them that this is what we’re doing. Not my responsibility. You know, in wrestling, you look out for your program. What are you worried about? Your program. That’s the #1 issue that you’re concerned about. So that’s what I was concerned about, was my program with Hunter.”

On resisting WWE’s creative trying to overuse him: “So moving forward, I signed up to do a few shows, because I was concerned that I would show up every week and they wouldn’t have anything for me to do. And once I’m there, you’re just there. So I said, ‘I’ll do this show, and this show, and this show.’ But then they started saying, ‘Would you come and do an interview,’ and I was like, ‘Nope!’ ‘Well, would you come and do a promo?’ ‘Nope!’ So I ended up, they said, ‘Well, would you do an Instagram post?’ I was like, ‘[sigh] Okay.’ And then they said, they wanted me to come and do an interview with Michael Cole. I said, ‘I won’t do it. Send Michael Cole here.’ And they ended up doing this ‘via satellite’ thing, which I didn’t think was great, but it got us to the next week. I just, I was hoping we — I would still have preferred to come back at a later date, a few weeks before [WrestleMania]. Because I just don’t think, I think we had enough history where they could have built the rivalry on packages.”

On his promo on the final Smackdown before WrestleMania: “But, I have to say that the promo I did in DC, they cut when Vince called and asked me if I would do a promo in DC. It was like the go-home week of WrestleMania. I was like, ‘Not a chance. Not a chance in hell, I’m not going into my hometown to gather up support before I go into ‘Mania.’ And he said, ‘Well, this is what I want you to do. I want you to come in and want you to take off your glasses. I want you to tell Hunter to kiss your ass.’ And I said, ‘I’ll do it!’ [laughs] It was just, it was too funny! I laughed my ass off. I said, ‘I am there.'”

On getting emotional over that promo: “And I tried to play the heel part when I was there, but leaving I just broke. It was my hometown and my emotions had the best of me. There were a couple of kids who were like, ‘Batista, Batista!’ And I just, I kind of broke down. I shed a few tears. I mean, the first time I was in that arena, I got kicked out. I was looking for a job and asked to leave. I showed up, because I was told — so at the time, I think Jim Cornette was the head of talent relations. And I was trying to get him on the phone, and I could never get on the phone because I was trying to get a job. Then I found out they were going to be doing a house show in DC, and I made a couple calls, had a couple friends make a couple of calls, see if Jim Cornette was going to be there. And somebody said he was, so I just went down there, and I didn’t know any better. I went backstage, nobody stopped me. So I just walked in, and I’m walking around backstage going, ‘Jim Cornette here? Anybody know where Jim Cornette is?’ Trying to figure out how to get into professional wrestling. And so later, security came over and said, ‘Who are you here with?’ And I said, ‘Oh, sorry. I’m looking for Jim Cornette … [Jim] Dodson comes, and goes, ‘You’re gonna have to leave,’ and they kicked me out.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Talk is Jericho with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.