This past Monday, RAW ended with a shocking finale to the Ric Flair 70th birthday celebrations. Instead of fans getting to see the Nature Boy walk down the ramp, what the WWE Universe got instead was Batista attacking his longtime mentor. All this just to send a message to Triple H.
The once rumored match between the two at WrestleMania, after the SmackDown 1000 confrontation is now all but official. You can bet Triple H will retaliate next Monday or at the Fastlane PPV to make it happen, allowing Batista to fulfill a long-held dream.
The Animal, now a Hollywood character actor returns to the squared circle to bring full circle his career. It was a match against the Game more than a decade ago which shot Batista to superstardom, as he beat his former mentor and leader from Evolution.
For Batista, this is a glorious return to the squared circle, after hitting the jackpot as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With all this said and done, Batista and Triple H have our attention as the Game tries to right a wrong, as he just can't seem to beat Batista anytime they square up or even meet each other.
Much like this past Monday, Batista has often always owned Triple H, as we shall see here.
#5 Putting Hunter down while putting him over
Batista's rage towards Triple H really manifested at the SmackDown 1000 show. As Evolution reunited on the brand's big night, Batista praised Triple H for all that he had done in the business. With Hunter embroiled in a rivalry with the Undertaker to finally conquer that mountain, Batista lavished his old leader with love and respect for his accomplishments.
That is until the end of his touching promo, where Batista called to one accolade Triple H had yet failed to conquer. Batista calmly mentioned that Triple H had failed to beat him in his grand career, stroking the ego of the Game and felling it in all of one sentence. A masterstroke in earning Triple H's ire.
Ric Flair managed to cool the situation down between the former rivals, as Batista and Hunter made up. Yet it was clear Batista had gotten under Triple H's skin. In a fascinating double turn though, Triple H's eventual disregard of the situation seems to have bothered Batista even more. Now it's the Animal's ego calling his former mentor for a fight.
The old Triple H might have retaliated but this office bred version needs to find that Game instinct if he wants to put down the rabid Animal before his bite becomes worse than his bark.
#4 Acting career goes over the galaxy!
Weaved perfectly into Batista's second exit from WWE in 2014, after a hectic few months of fan reactions and putting everyone over as a part-time star. Batista's quick arrival and exit came due to his growing stature in the entertainment industry as he prepared to take on the role of Drax in the juggernaut Marvel and Disney production - Guardians of the Galaxy.
Much like a lot of skeptics in and out of the industry, Triple H had no faith in Batista's film career, let alone his big-ticket summer movie working out. The allusions to this came from a very vocal Batista, willing to let the backstage bygones be bygones and return for a final run with the company that made him who he is.
Triple H's snide remarks on the RAW episode of Batista's exit about his Hollywood career, blew up in the Game's face as his protege's films have not only become blockbusters but found him rare praise as someone who can really perform. That Batista has worked with some of the greatest film talents of this generation from Josh Brolin to Denis Villeneuve is no laughing matter.
Batista proving Triple H wrong not just in the ring but in life is a huge blow to a star WWE failed, yet the man's love for the business that bred him has brought him back once more. You would think Batista would be the face in all of this.
#3 Punking out Hunter's Flair
Batista would be the hero of the story if it weren't for how great he is as a bad guy, and this manifested in his attack on Ric Flair this past Monday, during his birthday celebrations. The attack on Flair, whom both Batista and Hunter are close to, is a huge metaphorical thumb down to his mentors.
Knowing after all he had done from proving Hunter wrong by succeeding in Hollywood to teasing his ego didn't work. Batista used an attack on Flair, someone Triple H deeply admires and set up the whole birthday celebration for. Using Flair to get to the Game is genius and another sign of how intuitive Batista is.
He's always had the better of exchanges when staring down the Nature Boy along with Hunter, making this a twisted callback to their shared past. Doing it with the blue tinted Hollywood swagger as well as those smooth acting chops is the icing on the cake.
#2 A Hattrick of wins
Nothing says owned like three wins in a row for the Animal against the Game. Batista in his star-making turn went on a rampage against his then manipulative friend and mentor, alongside Ric Flair. Batista after shooting through the hoops and tricks of The Game, rattled him and stole his championship in the main event of WrestleMania 21.
After this, he easily owned Triple H at Backlash, before putting the last stamp on their rivalry in Triple H's special match type, Hell in a Cell. This was the first loss for the Cerebral Assassin inside a structure he had dominated. This is the last time the two would ever meet in singles competition, often found on the same side since then either as faces or heels.
The intriguing thing to note is that the few times they did nearly come to conflict, Triple H has backed off. Even as Batista sought to get his due or walk out of WWE, Triple H tried his level best to make him see the bigger picture.
If it were Randy Orton on the other end, The Game might not have been as accommodating. Thus showcasing the psychological toll it took on his ego, being felled by his protegé whom he never saw coming.
#1 Thumbs Up, thumbs down
Speaking of never seeing coming, Triple H at the height of his ego could not see what the world around him already knew. Before Batista even stepped up to him in the ring, he was already a made man and had seen through the Game and Flair's wicked tricks to dispatch of him during 2005.
While Batista trumping Triple H thrice might be a bigger accomplishment, the sweet taste of owning the Game truly came a few weeks before their WrestleMania showdown. A legendary segment and a masterclass in the making of a superstar.
As Triple H goaded the Animal to take his Rumble victory opportunity and challenge for SmackDown's WWE Championship, Batista came down like a ton of bricks on the Cerebral Assassin and played him like a fiddle, announcing his intent on taking the world title from his Evolution leader.
Batista played the Game and won, blasting Ric Flair before planting Triple H on the mat. With a signed contract and a guaranteed main event at WrestleMania, Batista proved he wasn't just Triple H's equal but his superior, and definitely as Ric Flair would put it - the man!
Now Triple H the old warhorse must channel that very same ruthless villain to put down the egomaniac Batista, seeking attention for unresolved tensions. The question remains if this clash of egos can finally go the way of the Game or will Batista forever remain a black mark in Hunter's shining career.