The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of WrestlingInc or its staff.
The main event of Wrestlemania is much more than a simple match at a PPV. The main event of Wrestlemania is a tent pole for what WWE is going to be all about during the time before and after Wrestlemania. The build-up to the match is the biggest part of WWE from January to April, and the resulting fallout from the match will affect WWE for the rest of the year.
Batista, a former world champion, cast aside by fans since his departure from the company almost four years ago, has returned to WWE and won the Royal Rumble and will most certainly be a in the main event for Wrestlemania. Batista's win and subsequent push has gotten the ire of many fans because Batista is viewed as an undeserving winner, especially when other, more intriguing and deserving wrestlers continue to get the short end of the stick.
The lackluster response to Batista is partly not really his fault. Batista's return and Royal Rumble victory coincided with the continual mistreatment of Daniel Bryan and the walk out of CM Punk. Those two very popular stars being either buried and/or leaving the company, have meshed poorly with the fact that a star who left the company for years and who returned just six days before being handed the main event spot at Wrestlemania. The growing base of hardcore fans, have picked up on this and since Punk and Bryan also were very popular with that group of fans, Batista has gotten the brunt of those fans hate.
Another issue that Batista has faced is that WWE seems to be dedicated to having him be a face, despite everything in the world indicating that he should be a heel. Batista has always been way easier to hate then to love, and all you need to do is look at him to see why. A guy who wears skinny jeans, a jean jacket and sunglasses indoors is not cool; he just looks like a douche. Nobody wants to cheer for that guy, but we sure want to see him get beat. The plan right now looks like it is going to be Batista vs Orton for the WWE WHC at Wrestlemania. That is a match where the fans do not want to root for anybody, and unless something changes soon, WWE is in danger of having the biggest match at their biggest show of the year be drowned out by CM Punk and Daniel Bryan chants.
When Batista last worked for WWE, he was a pretty popular wrestler, but he was never at the level where he could carry the company. His best work came when he worked with bigger stars, like John Cena, Triple H and The Undertaker. Batista was an important piece in WWE, but he wasn't necessarily irreplaceable either. Last year, WWE basically did the same thing with The Rock. The Rock came back, won the WWE Championship and main-evented Wrestlemania. Now, The Rock had worked a couple matches previous to that, but the biggest difference between him and Batista is that The Rock was at such a higher level when he left then Batista was.
The Rock is undisputedly one of the most entertaining and talented performers to ever come down the pike, and not a lot of people would say that about Batista. The Rock was also way more of a main stream star than Batista is. Sure, Batista has a high profile movie gig coming out later this year, but The Rock has one of those every few months. Pretty much everyone knows who The Rock is, only a small percentage of people outside of wrestling fans know who Batista is. Lastly, when The Rock left, he was still in his prime and it felt like he left something on the table. When Batista left, it felt like he pretty much had done everything that he was capable of doing. The main point is that although giving the title and the main event to The Rock may not have been the greatest idea by WWE, at least it was defensible in that The Rock was a huge mainstream star and an icon in wrestling. Batista does not have any of that going for him.
Another thing WWE should be worried about is that they really don't know what they have in Batista. Batista appeared on Raw exactly once before he was handed the main event of Wrestlemania. Batista had not wrestled in a very long time and even when he was working full time, he was frequently hampered by injuries. Batista is also 45 years old and is clearly not in as great shape as he was when he was still working in WWE. Frankly, for someone to be handed the biggest spot in the company, they should have to prove themselves a little bit more after such a long absence.
So far, in his limited appearances, Batista has been nothing short of a disaster. When he first returned to WWE he was met with a good reception, but nothing like that of other returning stars like Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho or even Rob Van Dam. At the Royal Rumble, Batista was loudly booed and the fans thoroughly supported Roman Reigns over him, despite Batista being the face and Reigns being the heel.
On Monday, Batista was met in the ring by Alberto Del Rio, who he will presumably be wrestling at the upcoming Elimination Chamber PPV. Batista appeared to be very rattled by the crowd's reaction towards him so far, and he stumbled over his lines and looked visibly uncomfortable. Alberto Del Rio, not widely known as a dynamic speaker or for getting great reactions from the crowd, was clearly the more charismatic man on Monday. If Batista cannot even get to the same level as ADR, he is in serious trouble.
In my opinion, I honestly do not think WWE can go into Wrestlemania with the current version of Batista main eventing there show. The easiest solution would be to turn him heel and have him face Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania for the title. That would give the fans what they want, and make sure that Batista is still in the main event, which is probably a stipulation that was mandated in his contract. If they continue on their current path with Batista, WWE will be looking at a very unhappy fanbase after Wrestlemania.