Back in 2005, Batista decided to branch off from being a protege of Triple H, boldly going through the path of being a top guy. It all started at the Royal Rumble. After defeating John Cena, he had an opportunity to compete against John Bradshaw Layfield or his mentor, Triple H. Surprisingly, Batista showed his choice of opponent for WrestleMania by putting Triple H through a table. His momentum continued when Batista defeated Triple H and became the World Heavyweight Champion.
This is a prime example of a protege breaking away from his mentor.
Twenty five years earlier, it happened in a less-than-endorsed manner. At the time, Larry Zbyszko was a popular babyface, feuding with hated villians such as Abdullah the Butcher and "Superstar" Billy Graham. Moreover, due to the similar looks and wrestling styles, he was often labeled as the protege of Bruno Sammartino.
So, in order to separate himself from the shadows of the "Living Legend", Zbyszko challenged Sammartino to a match. Reluctantly, Sammartino agreed, not knowing that he would end up a bloody mess. Frustrated that Sammartino was ahead on points, Zbyszko rammed his midsection with a knee, following by a wooden chair shot.
This solidified Zbyszko's heel turn, and spawned the most heated rivalry of 1980. In fact, Zbyszko became one of the most hated heels in the early 80s, and even used this momentum to coin himself the "New Living Legend" (later shortened to the "Living Legend"), and propel him to a successful career in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) by becoming a two-time World Heavyweight Champion.
Storylines like this are rare these days, but is a tried-and-true experiment in one's ascension to hopefully be a world champion. Whether the outcome is becoming a face or heel, investing time in superstars - specifically as a protege to a top guy - symbolically passes the torch and helps the audience build confidence in the torchbearer.
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